, November 9, 2010 —
The American Public Health Association’s oldest and most prestigious award, the Sedgwick Memorial Medal for Distinguished Service in Public Health, has been presented to William Schaffner, MD.
Since 1929, the Sedgwick medal has been awarded annually to an individual who has demonstrated a distinguished record of service to public health while tirelessly working to advance public health knowledge and practice. The award was presented during the Association’s 138th Annual Meeting and Exposition in Denver.
Chairman of the Department of Preventive Medicine and professor of infectious diseases in the Department of Medicine at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Schaffner’s career has spanned the spectrum of public health. He has worked to create new epidemiologic science, to translate that science into progressive health policy and to communicate these advances eloquently to the public and the medical and public health profession. Schaffner is an advocate of collaboration between academic medical centers and public health institutions to advance the scientific basis of public health practice.
After graduating from Yale in 1957, Schaffner attended the University of Freiburg, Germany, as a Fulbright Scholar. He graduated from Cornell Medical College in 1962, completed internal medicine residency training and a fellowship in infectious diseases at Vanderbilt, and then served as an epidemic intelligence officer with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and was assigned to the state health department in Rhode Island.
Schaffner returned to join the Vanderbilt faculty in 1969, becoming one of the pioneers of hospital infection control programs and conducting rigorous investigations that validated infection control as a scientific discipline. He also began a 40-year association with the Tennessee Department of Health, where he has collaborated on investigations of outbreaks of communicable diseases and environmental hazards as well as supervising the training of 21 Epidemic Intelligence Service officers.
Schaffner has published nearly 400 scientific articles, textbook chapters and editorials. He is president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases and is a member of the Executive Council of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. He has been associated with the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices for nearly 28 years and is an indefatigable advocate of prevention by vaccination for all age groups. Among his many honors, Schaffner was awarded the Ronald Davis Special Recognition Award for leadership and outstanding contributions to preventive medicine by the American College of Preventive Medicine and the James B. Bruce Memorial Award for Distinguished Contributions in Preventive Medicine from the American College of Physicians.