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MacArthur Foundation Names a Second U.Va. Fellow

February 24, 2003 -- Janine Jagger, Ph.D., was concerned about safety long before child seats and air bags for cars became legal requirements. Her early work on prevention of brain injuries was published in government reports and Consumer Reports, as well as in the academic press starting two decades ago.

Jagger was one of the first to realize how critical would be the prevention of infection among health care workers when the AIDS epidemic first started in the early 80’s. Early on in the epidemic she invented a new way to resheath a needle within a syringe to protect the person giving an injection to someone with a blood-borne infection. She went on to design EPINet, the Exposure Prevention Information network, which has been published as a software program in numerous languages and designated as the manual of choice for operating room nurses.

Now, Jagger, Becton Dickinson Professor of Health Care Worker Safety in the division of Geographic Medicine at the University of Virginia since 1996, and a faculty member since 1978, has been honored with a MacArthur "genius" award. She has been far ahead of the curve throughout her career, working out ways to educate those at risk of injury or infection and to prevent occupational exposure to disease.

Jagger was present in the White House when President Clinton signed the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act into law in 2000. She was named Henderson Inventor of the Year by the University’s Patent Foundation in 1996, and she has received numerous other honors. The MacArthur Award brings her work to national prominence.

Jagger worked in Africa in 1974 during her graduate training in the Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh. Now she plans to use the financial support she will receive from this latest award benefit healthcare workers in developing countries. She hopes to enhance her collaborative work with healthcare providers, particularly in Ghana, to reduce their exposure to deadly infectious diseases by reducing their use of injectible medications and by making available devices for the containment of injection waste to reduce accidental needlesticks.

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