Philadelphia, Pa., November 10, 2009 — Branden Pfefferkorn, MD, MPH, is winner of the American Public Health Association's 2009 Jay S. Drotman Memorial Award for young professionals.
The award recognizes a health worker or student, 30 or younger, who has demonstrated potential in the health field by challenging traditional public health policy or practice in a creative and positive way.
Having recently completed graduate studies at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Pfefferkorn impressed his mentors early in medical school by becoming actively involved in efforts to lessen industry influence in medical education both at the local and national level. As part of this work, he developed a controversial scorecard to assess and compare conflict-of-interest policies at U.S. medical schools. The scorecards have led to medical schools modifying their policies regarding medical industry sponsorship of medical school programs.
Pfefferkorn’s most notable accomplishment has involved his work on humanitarian drug licensing, which began when he discovered that a medication developed at the University of Wisconsin was being withheld from Thailand. When his attempt to negotiate with the director of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation failed, Pfefferkorn persisted and joined the national coordinating committee for Universities Allied for Essential Medicines. He presented his project at the group’s national meeting, published a guest column in the Wisconsin State Journal and helped coordinate a petition campaign and poster display on campus. The work culminated in an oral presentation at the 2008 APHA Annual Meeting.
During his undergraduate studies at Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania, Pfefferkorn was on the dean’s list for eight semesters and a member of the Society for Collegiate Journalists, the national leadership honor society Omicron Delta Kappa, the English honor society Sigma Tau Delta, the biology honor society Beta Beta Beta and the freshman honor society Alpha Lambda Delta. He won a sophomore essay award of merit for “Antibiotic Resistance: Fighting Bacteria that Fight Back.”
He is a member of the American Medical Students Association, National Physicians Alliance, Universities Allied for Essential Medicines and was a delegate for the annual meeting of the Wisconsin Medical Society. Among his community service and volunteer work, he was a member of the Ethics Symposium Organizing Committee, a Navajo Nation spring break trip coordinator and a Doctors Ought to Care presenter at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and a steering committee member for the Dane County Domestic Violence Task Force. As a fellow for LOCUS – the Leadership Opportunities with Communities, the Under-served and Special Populations — Pfefferkorn helped design and implement a series of interviews with dairy farmers in Wisconsin to assess their views of health care and needed health care reform.
“I can honestly say that I have never worked with a student with more creativity, motivation and commitment to public health,” said Patrick Remington, MD, MPH, associate dean for public health at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, in a letter nominating Pfefferkorn for the Drotman award. “Branden is truly an outstanding young public health professional, whose early work signals great promise that he will become a future public health leader.”