Public health is the science and art of protecting and improving the health of communities through education, the promotion of healthy lifestyles, and research for disease and injury prevention.
I’m proud to labor in government to bring my skills and experience as a physician to protecting the public and providing the most healthful environment for all people. When elected I will be the only physician in the Senate.
My specific long-term interests are focused on environmental toxins known as endocrine disruptors. These hormones, including atrazine which is in widespread use in Maryland agriculture, mimic the actions of estrogens and anti-androgens in the bodies of many animals, including humans.
The deleterious effects of these compounds have been known since DES (diethylstibestrol) was pulled from the market in 1971, and the science developed in the 70’s. But it has only been during the past few years that state legislatures and the federal government have come to grips with these toxins and acted to protect the public health. The FDA and EPA are still reluctant to act, but we are making progress.
As a researcher and public health professional, I will bring a unique perspective and scientific leadership to Annapolis. Having done research on DES, and having worked with the leading researchers in the field, I can work from a position of strength to take on the chemical industry. I will do so fearlessly.
An extremely serious problem which has been growing deadlier over the past decade is antibiotic resistance. Since the introduction of penicillin in 1943, we have quickly grown accustomed to beating any and all bacterial infections. But today, with antibiotics commonly overused to treat humans and their rampant abuse in agriculture and aquaculture, we are on the verge of returning to the pre-1943 era. One of my best friends recently passed away with a systemic infection that was resistant to all antibiotics. We must rein in their use, and do so urgently.
I am also passionate about improving nutrition. I managed, as Councilmember Trachtenberg’s Senior Adviser, the successful Montgomery County legislation to ban artificial trans fats, and educated lawmakers on similar legislation on the state level. That ban on artificial trans fats, which saved hundreds of lives annually in our county, will be a national reality in 2018, thanks to action by industry and the FDA. Tens of thousands will be saved as a result nationwide. I also lobbied vigorously for menu labeling, now the law in the county.
What’s next? We must improve school nutrition, because eating habits are set in childhood and extremely difficult to change later. The epidemic of childhood obesity is crippling this country, and while it shows signs of slowing, it can be even more damaging than the epidemic of smoking. We need to be creative in limiting the use of high fructose corn syrup, and should also keep raising the tobacco tax to fund public health projects while cutting smoking in the young. We need to promote GMO labeling, so the public knows the source of their food. I will lead in working to persuade my colleagues of the virtues of science in the public interest, and I will build the coalitions necessary to improve the lives of all Maryland’s residents.