November 4, 2007
The 2007 Martha May Eliot Award, which honors exceptional achievements in the field of maternal and child health, was given posthumously to Greg R. Alexander, RS, MPH, ScD, at the American Public Health Association (APHA) 135th Annual Meeting & Exposition.
Alexander, who died in February of heart failure at age 56, was one of the most prominent perinatal epidemiologists nationally and globally and led groundbreaking studies on gestational age measurement, prenatal care, and racial and ethnic disparities in birth outcomes. He worked as a professor in the department of pediatrics at the University of South Florida College of Medicine and published extensively on maternal and child health research.
Alexander co-edited the Maternal and Child Health Journal and reviewed manuscripts for 27 different scientific journals, serving on the editorial boards of four of those journals. He served as consultant or advisory board member to local, state, federal and international organizations, including the Association of Schools of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He frequently presented research findings at international, state and local conferences.
“If you attended one of his presentations or were a member of a board on which he served, you could be assured of thoughtful and wide-ranging comments and a style that assisted the group in arriving at a consensus and moving forward,” said APHA member Lorraine V. Klerman, MPH, DrPH, professor at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass.
He directed the national Maternal and Child Health Leadership Skills Training Institute for nearly 15 years, teaching critical leadership skills to hundreds of state maternal and child health program directors and staff.
During his career in academia, Alexander first taught at the Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health and then moved to the University of Minnesota, where he became chair of the Department of Maternal and Child Health. He taught at the University of Alabama at Birmingham beginning in 1995, and from 1998–2005 was chair of its Department of Maternal and Child Health. He then became professor at the colleges of medicine and public health at the University of South Florida. He was a visiting professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa for 17 years and also was part of a collaborative effort in the Caribbean involving researchers from six countries who worked to understand birth outcome disparities.
“Dr. Alexander has been a true leader for the entire MCH field,” said APHA member Milton Kotelchuck, PhD, MPH, professor and chairman of the Department of Maternal and Child Health at the Boston University School of Public Health.
APHA member Michael D. Kogan, PhD, director of the Office of Data and Program Development for the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, also supported Alexander’s nomination for the award.
“In my opinion, Dr. Alexander had few peers in the totality of contributions made to improving the health of mothers and children in the United States,” Kogan said.
Alexander’s work was honored with many previous awards, including the National Center for Health Statistics Director’s Award and the Perinatal Research Award from the National Perinatal Association.