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Food for Thought: Steve Luby and Jenna Forsyth on Lead Exposure

Professor Luby and Dr. Forsyth discussed their work to reduce two key sources of lead contamination in Bangladesh

The Food for Thought series features student-focused events with speakers from a variety of disciplines discussing topics related to global development.

Event Details:

Tuesday, November 1, 2022
5:30pm - 6:30pm PDT


Gunn SIEPR Building


This event is open to:


As a potent neurotoxin, lead irreversibly damages the brain, permanently lowers IQ, and reduces lifetime earnings. 90% of children with elevated blood lead levels live in lower income countries. Although the worldwide reduction in IQ from childhood lead exposure is associated with nearly one trillion dollars in lost productivity annually, there has been little investment in systems-based, solution-oriented research to prevent lead exposures in low-income countries.

On Tuesday, November 1, 2022, the King Center on Global Development invited the Stanford student community to learn about the processes and technologies Professor Luby, Dr. Forsyth, and their team have designed to lessen lead contamination within the battery recycling industry and in the spice trade. The research goal is to produce a set of long-term, viable solutions to ultimately remove lead from the value chain or find ways to ensure it does not contaminate the environment. Professor Luby and Dr. Forsyth discussed the current and future work of the lead initiative, which aims to improve health, intelligence and economic growth in developing countries by reducing lead exposure, with an initial focus on Bangladesh.


About the speakers: 

Steve Luby

Portrait of Stephen Luby smiling

Steve Luby studied philosophy and earned a Bachelor of Arts summa cum laude from Creighton University. He earned his medical degree from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, Dallas and completed his residency in internal medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center, Strong Memorial Hospital. He studied epidemiology and preventive medicine at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Professor Luby's previous positions include directing the Centre for Communicable Diseases at the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Diseases Research, Bangladesh in Dhaka, Bangladesh from 2004 - 2012, conducting research and teaching epidemiology at the Aga Khan University in Karachi, Pakistan from 1993 - 1998, and working as an epidemiologist in the Foodborne and Diarrheal Diseases Branch of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Jenna Forsyth

Portrait of Jenna Forsyth smiling

Jenna Forsyth (M.S.E., PhD) is a postdoctoral fellow with Stanford University’s Woods Institute for the Environment, primarily contributing to the Stanford Lead Initiative funded by the King Center for Development. She completed her PhD with the Stanford Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources and obtained her Master's in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Washington. Her research brings together principles of environmental science, epidemiology, and behavior change. 
Dr. Forsyth has spent nearly 15 years addressing global and environmental health problems, particularly contaminants in air, water, soil, and food, with a recent emphasis on lead exposure. She has field research and professional work experience in numerous countries, including Bangladesh, Kenya, Tanzania, Costa Rica, and Australia. Dr. Forsyth’s recent research has focused on understanding and preventing lead exposure in South Asia from informal battery recycling and other sources like turmeric adulterated with lead chromate.

This event is co-sponsored by the King International Development Association (KIDA).

KIDA is an undergraduate student organization dedicated to fostering collaboration and community among young leaders committed to addressing international development challenges. KIDA harnesses Stanford’s unique resources to help undergraduates translate their interest in international development into engaged and meaningful action. 

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