Pediatrician Who Exposed Flint Water Crisis to Speak

Mona Hanna-Attisha

Jan. 26, 2017

BLOOMINGTON, Ill.— The pediatrician who has become a national figure in the ongoing Flint water crisis will present the Founders' Day address on Feb. 15 at Illinois Wesleyan University.

Mona Hanna-Attisha, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.A.P., is the director of Hurley Children’s Hospital’s Pediatric Residency Program. Based on a tip that Marc Edwards, a water engineer and professor at Virginia Tech University, had found high levels of lead in the water in Flint, Mich., residents’ homes, Hanna-Attisha used hospital electronic medical records as data for her own study. She found Flint childrens’ blood lead levels had increased significantly after the city switched water sources.

Because of the public health implications, Hanna-Attisha announced her findings at a press conference in September 2015 ahead of publishing the results in a refereed professional journal. This announcement came at considerable professional risk. State officials initially disputed the results, but confirmed them a little more than a week later.

Hanna-Attisha has testified about the Flint water crisis before Congress and she has given hundreds of media interviews to direct the world’s attention to the ongoing situation in Flint. Named by TIME Magazine as one of 2016’s 100 Most Influential People in the World, she also appeared on Crain’s Detroit Business’ list of 100 Most Influential Women and was named as a Health Care Hero by the same publication. Medscape named her as one of the Best Physicians of the Year for 2016. She shared the PEN America's Freedom of Expression Courage Award in 2016 with Flint mother and advocate LeeAnne Walters.

Hanna-Attisha completed medical school at Michigan State University, residency and chief residency at Children’s Hospital of Michigan, and training in public health policy from the University of Michigan. Hanna-Attisha is an assistant professor of pediatrics and human development at Michigan State’s College of Human Medicine. She now directs the Pediatric Public Health Initiative, a partnership between Hurley Medical Center and Michigan State University, to research, monitor and mitigate the impact of the Flint water lead crisis.

Hanna-Attisha’s address at Illinois Wesleyan is entitled “The Flint Water Crisis: A Journey for Justice” and will begin at 11 a.m. in Presser Hall’s Westbrook Auditorium.

The Founders' Day Convocation is free and open to the public. Founders' Day honors the 30 civic and religious leaders who came together in 1850 to establish “an Institution of learning of Collegiate grade.”

Hanna-Attisha’s address at IWU is also a co-curricular event of the University’s intellectual theme, Women’s Power, Women’s Justice.

By Vi Kakares ’20