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NYC Charity Honors Olden

By Eddy Ball
February 2010

Olden
Olden, above, is "an exceptional scientist" with a commitment to addressing the health disparities and public health challenges of people in NYC, said Hunter President Jennifer Raab. (Photo courtesy of Harvard University)

The New York City charitable organization One Hundred Black Men (OHBM), Inc. will honor NIEHS/NTP Director Emeritus Ken Olden, Ph.D.(http://www.niehs.nih.gov/about/highlights/pastdirectors/kennetholden.cfm), at its 30th Annual Benefit Gala on Feb. 25. During the black-tie event  at the Hilton Hotel in New York, Olden will receive the 2010 Distinguished Physician Community Service Award for his work as founder and dean of the new City University of New York (CUNY) School of Public Health.

Olden served as director of NIEHS/NTP from 1991 to 2005. He remained at NIEHS as a principal investigator in the Laboratory of Molecular Carcinogenesis Metastasis Group until September 2008 (see story(http://www.niehs.nih.gov/news/newsletter/2008/september/oldenleavesnih.cfm)). Following a series of meetings that summer, Jennifer Raab, J.D., president of CUNY's Hunter College, recruited Olden to establish the first of its kind school of public health with an urban focus (see CUNY TV Dec. 20, 2009 video Study with the Best(http://www.cuny.tv/schedule/Action.Lasso?-Database=CUNYPROG&-Layout=webprogdetail2&-Response=detail2.lasso&-Operator=%27eq%27&ProgramID=PR1011222&-Search) Exit NIEHS).

The right leader to create an “epicenter for modern public health”

As NIEHS/NTP director, Olden increased the Institute's role in the area of health disparities and sharpened its focus on public health policy. Raab listed those qualifications as important reasons she chose Olden to take on the challenge of starting the new school of public health. In his role at Hunter, Olden is building an integrated university program to address what Raab called "a crisis" in public health in NYC, where rates of many chronic diseases, such as diabetes, exceed those in other urban areas.

For the past 15 months, Olden has worked out of offices at Hunter College to mobilize support and establish directions for the initiative. On Nov. 16, 2009, he was among the dignitaries on hand as the new program achieved an important milestone with the groundbreaking for the new $135-million eight-story Lois V. and Samuel J. Silberman School of Social Work(http://www.cuny.edu/news/newsreleases_p=4694.html) Exit NIEHS, which will house the CUNY School of Public Health.

When Olden accepted the position, he called it "one opportunity I thought I couldn't pass up." He explained that he hopes the school will emerge as "the Mecca, the epicenter for modern public health." The new CUNY School of Public Health will begin offering graduate programs in the new facility in 2011.

OHBM's tradition of honoring community leaders

In addition to Olden, OHBM(http://ohbm.org/) Exit NIEHS will recognize the contributions of two other leaders at the Benefit Gala - John Agwunobi, M.D.(http://walmartstores.com/FactsNews/NewsRoom/6654.aspx) Exit NIEHS, senior vice president of Walmart  and president of Walmart Health & Wellness, with the 2010 Distinguished Service Award; and Mark Wagar(http://www.empireblue.com/75years/newsroom/bios.html) Exit NIEHS, president of Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, with the 2010 Corporate Citizen Award. Founded in 1963, the OHBM describes its mission as "capitaliz[ing] on the collective power of community to address issues of concern, inequities and to empower African Americans to be agents for change in their own communities."



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