Wise 50 Over 50 Award™
Ronald St. John – Sitata
For over 40 years, I have worked in public service in the field of public health and national and international infectious disease control. I have been passionate about my work and always concerned about “making a difference.” I graduated from Yale University. I then completed a medical degree at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. During my years of service in Canada, I created the Global Public Health Intelligence Network (GPHIN) in the late 1990s. GPHIN was the very first ever computer-based system for monitoring global infectious disease outbreaks. It was designed to provide the Canadian government with early alerts about infectious disease outbreaks anywhere in the world to help prepare for a possible spread of disease to Canada.
I co-founded Sitata Inc. with my son, Adam St. John, when I was 73 years old. We started the business because we wanted to provide international travellers with an easy way to keep them safe and healthy wherever they travel. There’s a lot of anxiety surrounding travel these days, and we think our company can help calm a lot of fears about safety and health.
Following my retirement from public service in Canada, I believed that the kind of alerts created by GPHIN should be made available to the ordinary traveller, not just to government agencies. With up-to-date information about the location and severity of infectious disease outbreaks, a traveller could take basic precautions to avoid becoming seriously ill while travelling. By using information provided by Sitata, not only would the traveller avoid illness, he/she would also avoid becoming a spreader of infectious agents after arriving home. This was the origin of the Sitata idea, i.e., a web-based service to provide 24/7 health and safety information for travellers.
With my son, who provided all the computer capacities, we launched Sitata. Sitata has since surpassed GPHIN in many aspects and has become more successful than I could have possibly imagined. My hope is that we will continue to grow and keep more travellers safe around the world.