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The Right to Science and Infectious Diseases: Past, Present and Future

This webinar is part of the Scientific Collaborations with Human Rights Organizations webinar series, co-sponsored by the AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition and the Movement Engaged Research Hub of the Center for Social Science Research at George Mason University.

Webinar Description

This webinar will investigate the right of everyone to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications (“right to science”) and the reasons why this right is necessary and important. Participants will learn about the applications of states’ essential obligations under the right to science to develop, diffuse, and conserve science; what these obligations actually mean; and explore science and human rights in the context of infectious diseases. Panelists will discuss how the right to science framework is a necessary complement to attaining the right to the highest available standard of physical and mental health, and other human rights.

Panelists will use global health examples from the past forty years to show how the negation of equitable, affordable, timely and universal access to tangible and intangible scientific goods has been impacting the enjoyment of human rights for all, and why the continued disregard for right to science obligations has not only undermined global and local responses to COVID-19, but also hinders an equitable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Without the application of a right to science framework, a recovery that addresses inequalities arising from and exacerbated by the current pandemics will not be possible. Neither will we be able to prevent future pandemics.

The presentations will explore lessons learned from the AIDS movement as well as ongoing work on tuberculosis and COVID-19, to highlight how the connections between chronic under-investment in public health, research and development etc. reverberate in everyday life and how science and technology have the ability to promote, or – through their inaccessibility – hinder equitable human advancement for everyone. Participants will walk away with a deeper understanding of the right to science, its practical applications, and why the right is important for securing health equity.

Our panelists include Gisa Dang (Health and Human Rights Consultant), Mike W. Frick, TB Project Co-Director (Treatment Action Group) and Fifa A. Rahman (MHL-Health Law, PhD). Oliver Moles (Social Scientist and Program Evaluator), who also leads the webinar development team, will moderate the panel. 


Gisa Dang is a health and human rights consultant and prior nonprofit program director. Previously based in New York, Beijing, and Bangkok, she has over a decade of experience facilitating innovative coalitions and local grassroots human rights advocacy strategies in challenging political environments. As a human rights consultant, Gisa’s areas of expertise include the right to science, the right to health, and evaluation of human rights-based approaches. Together with Treatment Action Group, Gisa focuses on increasing public knowledge and analyses of the right to science. Her work includes regular submissions to UN bodies and special procedure on disease-based application of the right to science framework; qualitative research on human experiences on the nexus of infectious diseases and science (e.g., impact of unscientific TB screening on labor migration), and developing community-supporting human rights education materials. Gisa holds a MA in Sinology and Political Science from University of Cologne. Born and raised in Germany, Gisa resides in San Diego and enjoys native California plants and raising backyard chickens.

Mike Frick is one of the co-directors of TAG’s tuberculosis program. He joined TAG in 2013 as a TB project officer. Mike leads the following areas of TAG’s TB portfolio: 1) advocacy to support universal access to TB prevention, including research to develop new TB vaccines and preventive therapies; 2) research to track global funding for TB research and development (published in TAG’s signature annual report Tuberculosis Research Funding Trends); and 3) work to define and apply the human right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress to advance TB research and access. Mike holds a BA in international studies from Kenyon College and an MSc in global health and population from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. In 2009, he was a Fulbright Fellow at Kunming Medical College in Yunnan, China. Born in Oklahoma, he currently lives in Brooklyn, New York and is an enthusiastic cook and fire escape gardener.

Dr. Fifa A. Rahman has over 12 years’ experience working in global health, focused on strategic engagement and the amplification of Global South expertise in global health initiatives including via qualitative research, convening of strategic actors, and evaluation of global health projects. As Principal Consultant at Matahari Global Solutions, she leads a team of six consultants and has led and coordinated projects to develop the strategy for the Global Coalition of TB Activists, a final evaluation on the impact of COVID-19 on HIV and TB services in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, an evaluation to document lessons learned from pediatric TB advocacy in 8 countries across Africa and Asia for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF), and the mid-term review of the Global Fund Community Engagement Strategic Initiative, among other projects. She is the NGO representative on the WHO Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT - Accelerator), and formerly Board Member for NGOs at Unitaid, working on equitable access to HIV, TB, malaria, and cervical cancer tools. She is also part of the Technical Working Group for the WHO Framework for Research, Development, and Innovation for Health Security Preparedness. Her analysis and insights have been included in pieces in the New York Times, The Guardian, Devex, The Hindu Business Times, among others. Work experience has taken her to early infant diagnosis facilities in rural Mozambique, to villages receiving HIV self-testing kits in Mazowe, Zimbabwe, and to the World Health Summit in Berlin. She is based in Leeds, United Kingdom, and speaks English (fluent), Malay (proficiency), and Spanish (intermediate).

Oliver Moles, Ph.D., is a social scientist and program evaluator. He has worked for many years in the US Department of Education's research office on a range of national poverty and education programs and issues. His specialties include disruptive school behavior and efforts to build home-school partnerships. He leads the webinar development team which has organized science and human rights webinars within the AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition for the last six years.  

This webinar series is a project of the AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition. The team organizer is Oliver Moles, Ph.D.

To view past webinars in this series, please visit Scientific Collaborations with Human Rights Organizations.

Event Contact

Nate Weisenberg

Senior Program Associate

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