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Your Environment. Your Health.

Council Gives 1st Outstanding Achievement Award to NIEHS' Olden for Encouraging People of Color in Science

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)

News Release

Archive - New Contact Information

For more information about this archival news release, please contact Christine Flowers, Director, Office of Communications & Public Liaison at (919) 541-3665.
Monday, June 9, 2003, 12:00 p.m. EDT
Contact: Tom Hawkins, NIEHS
(919) 541-1402

The Council of Environmental Professionals will award its first Outstanding Public Service Achievement Award to National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences ( Director Kenneth Olden, Ph.D. (, for his encouragement of African Americans and people of color generally to work in environmental health sciences.

The council exists in order to increase the number of technically trained minorities in the environmental and public health professions. The council's award will be made at a reception at 5:30 p.m. June 11 at the law offices of Arnold & Porter, 555 Twelfth St. NW, Washington, DC 20004.

Born into poverty on an eastern Tennessee farm, the young Olden was encouraged by parents and teachers to study hard and do well. He excelled in the public schools and went on to earn a B.S. degree in biology from Knoxville College, an M.S. from University of Michigan and a Ph.D. in the biological sciences from Temple. He carried out research at Harvard University and the National Cancer Institute and director of the Howard University Cancer Center before becoming director of NIEHS.

When he was appointed to NIEHS in 1991, he became the the first African American to direct one of the federal government's National Institutes of Health. He is also the director of the National Toxicology Program which coordinates toxicology studies within the Department of Health and Human Services and is also headquartered at NIEHS in Research Triangle Park, N.C.

Dr. Olden is an internationally recognized researcher in cancer biology as well as an innovator in environmental health sciences who has pressed for action on the health disparities faced by the poor and racial minorities, and for the more active participation of the American people in the priority setting process in medical research.

Council of Environmental Professionals President Elliott P. Laws said, "Dr. Olden was the unanimous choice of the board of directors as soon as his name came up. In his professional success and as a person of integrity, he typifies the excellence we are seeking to bring to the sciences."

Because of his own start, and the encouragement he received, Dr. Olden has sought to set an example, to personally mentor outstanding minority students and young scientists, and to develop formal programs at his Institute to introduce science to young members of minority groups and to encourage excellence.

Dr. Olden last month was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree by the University of Rochester.

His other honors include appointment by President George H.W. Bush to membership on the National Cancer Advisory Board; membership in the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences; the Calver Award from the American Public Health Association; the HHS Secretary's Distinguished Service Award; the President's Meritorious and Distinguished Executive Award; and the American College of Toxicology's First Distinguished Service Award.

Dr. Olden and his wife, Sandra L. White, Ph.D., and daughter, Heather, live in Durham, N.C., and he has three grown children.

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