San Diego, October 26, 2008
— Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH, New York’s commissioner of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, received APHA’s 2008 Milton and Ruth Roemer Prize for Creative Local Public Health Work at APHA’s 136th Annual Meeting & Exposition.
The annual award recognizes a health professional who has demonstrated exceptionally creative and innovative local public health work.
Frieden has served as New York City’s health commissioner since January 2002. He has spearheaded tobacco control programs in the city, including a move to prohibit smoking in any restaurant or eating establishment. The city now has an estimated 200,000 fewer smokers than in 2002, which will translate into a prevention of 60,000 premature deaths.
Frieden also is leading a comprehensive effort to make the city a national and global model in halting the HIV epidemic. His other priorities include improving mental health diagnosis and treatment, as well as the quality of programs that serve people with mental illness, developmental disabilities and alcohol or drug dependence.
He leads the city’s efforts to address new and emerging disease threats, including those posed by terrorism. Other health department priorities under Frieden’s guidance include reducing infant mortality, improving cancer screening and ensuring residents are treated effectively for hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes.
A leading tuberculosis control expert, Frieden was appointed the city’s health commissioner after working in India for five years, where he assisted with national TB control efforts. He helped the country develop one of the world’s most effective TB control programs, which has treated more than 6 million patients and saved more than 1 million lives.
His has received numerous awards and has authored more than 150 scientific articles. During his time as director of the city’s Bureau of Tuberculosis Control and assistant commissioner from 1992–1996, the city reduced cases of multidrug-resistant TB by 80 percent.