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Monday, November 4, 2002, 12:00 p.m. EDT
NIEHS' Olden Named to Receive Environmental-Public Health Award
The American Public Health Association, the world's oldest and largest organization of public health professionals, will award its prestigious Calver Award to Kenneth Olden (http://www.niehs.nih.gov/about/od/pastdirectors/kennetholden.cfm), Ph.D., director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (http://www.niehs.nih.gov/) and the National Toxicology Program, at the association's annual meeting Nov. 11 in Philadelphia.
The award is named for Homer Calver, a dashing World War I medic, modern public health official, showman and environmental journalist. He was executive secretary of APHA and editor of its American Journal of Public Health. He also established and edited what became the popular Environmental News Digest.
As recipient of the Calver Award, Dr. Olden will deliver the keynote address at the APHA's environmental section's program at the annual meeting, focusing on his leadership of an institute and toxicology program which are pioneering environmental and genetic studies of individual susceptibility to disease and on better testing of potentially harmful chemicals.
Since his appointment as director of the federal National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in 1991, Dr. Olden has become a national spokesperson for improved public health through environmental health sciences, with special emphasis on partnerships with grassroots organizations and patient advocacy groups in charting programs of environmental research. He initiated environmental NIEHS-sponsored town meetings throughout the country that have been public sounding boards focusing both on regional environmental health concerns and on health disparities caused by exposures to environmental pollutants which often surround minorities and those with lower socioeconomic status.
Dr. Olden has also taken a leading role in founding the Environmental Genome Project to study people's varying susceptibility to chemicals and diseases and the National Center for Toxicogenomics, which applies advances in genetic technology to the testing of chemical and the study of environmentally related disease.
In announcing the award, APHA Chair for the Environmental Section Capt. Patrick O. Bohan, U.S. Public Health Service (Ret.) said: "The APHA's environmental section is pleased to recognize the tremendous accomplishments of Kenneth Olden over his more than ten years as director of the NIEHS and NTP, and over his decades in biomedical research. He has deepened the science of his agency at the same time he has broadened its relevance to public health. The recognition is richly deserved."
The Homer Calver award was established in 1970, the year that Earth Day was first observed and Calver died. He had served as Executive Director of APHA and as editor of the American Journal of Public Health. A dashing figure, graduating from college Calver leaped at the chance to volunteer for World War I duty with the American Ambulance Service in France.
Later, as a health officer in Winston-Salem, N.C., he brought the city through a diphtheria epidemic and secured a modern ordinance protecting the milk and food supply. Intrigued by European health exhibits he saw on a trip in 1930, he promoted, through the APHA, American exhibits combining accurate health information with showmanship - including the famous "Transparent Man" which he planned and directed. It was seen at the 1939 New York World's Fair by 12 million visitors, a record for a health exhibition that is still to be broken.
Recipients of the annual Calver award have included U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher, Congressman Edward Porter (R-Ill.), who helped spur the recent increases in the federal health research budget, Thomas A. Burke of the Johns Hopkins school of public health, and Michael McCally, then with Mt. Sinai school of medicine in New York and now with the Oregon Health and Sciences University. Dr. McCally has been an advocate of special environmental protections for the developing child.
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences is one of the National Institutes of Health. The NIEHS laboratories and the associated National Toxicology Program, which Dr. Olden also directs, are in Research Triangle Park, N.C., between Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill.
Second Award Announced
In a second award announcement, the Cincinnati Area Lead Advisory Committee has selected Dr. Olden as the first recipient of the Cincinnati Children's Environmental Health Award to be presented in November 2002. The award acknowledges Dr. Olden's leadership role in addressing children's health issues, especially lead poisoning, and recognizes the role of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in a number of children's health initiatives that have enhanced children's health in the Cincinnati area.
The CALAC is working with the local CLEARCorps, or Community Lead Education and Reduction/AmeriCorps program to increase community awareness of lead hazards and for passage of a local lead hazard control ordinance. The award presentation would be a part of a reunion of families who have participated in local lead studies.