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George W. Comstock

Mastering the Art of Tuberculosis Control

It's been an enduring mantra for George W. Comstock: "I've been lucky all my life."

Lucky to do seminal research on tuberculosis prevention and treatment.

Lucky to be editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Epidemiology for nine years.

Lucky to win numerous top public health awards for work on TB control, innovative community health studies and the mentoring of young epidemiologists.

The professor emeritus of Epidemiology may call it luck, but his colleagues are inclined to say that his successes are born of commitment, determination and passion. In recognition of his contributions to public health and his 40-plus-year career at the School, Dean Michael J. Klag commissioned a portrait of Comstock to hang in the School's boardroom. At a ceremony in February, his likeness joined those of other public health legends whose portraits hang in the School.

Klag remembers being a student at the Bloomberg School when he first met Comstock, now 92. "He welcomed me, as he did everyone else, with open arms," says Klag, MD, MPH '87. "He is a mentor who offers support and demands intellectual rigor and honesty."

By the time Comstock, MD, DrPH '56, MPH, arrived at the School in 1962, he had already made his mark in TB research as chief of epidemiologic studies for the U.S. Public Health Service, running the first trials of the BCG vaccine in Georgia and Alabama. Those pivotal studies, conducted from 1947 to 1950, found the vaccine to be largely ineffective against TB, leading federal health officials to decide against vaccinating children with BCG.

In 1957, Comstock moved his research to Alaska, where the disease was rampant. His work there demonstrated the effectiveness of the drug isoniazid in preventing TB—data that the CDC still used in 2000 when the agency updated its latent TB treatment guidelines.

As the founding director of the Johns Hopkins Training Center for Public Health Research and Prevention, which opened in 1962 in Hagerstown, Maryland, Comstock oversaw numerous community-based research studies on cancer and heart disease. The Center, still a training ground for epidemiology students, was renamed in Comstock's honor in 2005. His other honors include the Maxwell Finland Award for Scientific Achievement and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute's Career Research Award.

"He has influenced generations of students who now hold leadership positions throughout the world, whether in public health agencies or academic organizations," Klag says. "The School, and I personally, owe him a great deal."

Miriam H. Alexander, MD, MPH '89, assistant professor, Population, Family and Reproductive Health, director, General Preventive Medicine Residency Program, and director of the MidAtlantic Public Health Training Center, will receive the 2007 Distinguished Service Award from the American College of Preventive Medicine.

Haroutune Armenian, MD, DrPH, professor, Epidemiology, and president of the American University of Armenia (AUA), was notified in March that the Western Association of Schools and Colleges gave AUA its full seven-year accreditation.

Susan Baker

Susan Baker, MPH '68, professor, Health Policy and Management (HPM), received the first Champions Award from the Society for Advancement of Violence and Injury Research.

Patrick Breysse

Patrick Breysse, PhD '85, MHS '80, professor, EHS, received the 2007 Meritorious Achievement Award from the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), for his outstanding long-term contributions to the field of occupational health and industrial hygiene.

Hossein Bahrami, MD, MPH '04, doctoral candidate, Epidemiology, and Master of Health Science candidate, Biostatistics, was honored with the Jay S. Drotman Memorial Award by the American Public Health Association (APHA).

Robert Black, MD, MPH, Edgar Berman Professor and chair, International Health, has been chosen to serve as one of 25 Ambassadors in the inaugural year of the Paul Rogers Society, formed to increase awareness and support for U.S. global health research.

Tom Burke

Tom Burke, PhD, MPH, professor, HPM, and director of the Risk Sciences and Public Policy Institute, was named a Fellow of the Society for Risk Analysis. He was also selected to chair the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Improving Risk Analysis.

A documentary and a TV drama produced with support from the Center for Communication Programs (CCP), under editor Jane Bertrand's leadership, won medals at the 2007 New York Festivals. Road to Hope won a Silver World Medal. The TV show Kaisey Kahoon won a Bronze World Medal.

Benjamin Caballero, MD, PhD, professor, International Health, received the Ancel Keys Prize at the World Congress of Public Health Nutrition, in Barcelona.

Christian L. Coles, PhD '00, MPH, assistant professor of International Health, received a Career Development Award from NIH to conduct research on necrotizing enterocolitis in newborns. The Mentored Research Scientist Development Award provides $475,714 over four years to support career development in the biomedical sciences leading to research independence.

Derek Cummings, PhD, MHS '04, assistant professor, Biostatistics, is the recipient of a Career Award at the Scientific Interface, given by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund to support physical and computational scientists entering biology. The award provides $500,000 over five years to support advanced postdoctoral training and the first years of a faculty appointment.

Francesca Dominici

Francesca Dominici, PhD, professor, Biostatistics and Epidemiology, is the recipient of the 2007 Gertrude M. Cox Award, given annually by RTI International and the Washington, D.C., chapter of the American Statistical Association.

James Hodge, JD, LLM, associate professor, HPM, and executive director, Center for Law and the Public's Health, was the winner of the 2006 Henrik L. Blum Award for Excellence in Health Policy, presented by APHA's Community Health Planning and Policy Development section.

Adnan Hyder

Adnan HyderMPH '93, PhD '98, associate professor, International Health, will receive a 2006 Institute of Road Traffic Education and Prince Michael International Road Safety award for his contributions towards global road safety.

Thomas Kensler, PhD, professor, EHS, is this year's winner of the American Association for Cancer Research and the American Cancer Society's prize in cancer prevention and cancer epidemiology.

Nirbhay Kumar, PhD, professor of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, received the Ranbaxy Award for his research into novel ways to prevent the transmission of malaria. The award was presented March 20 in New Delhi, India.

Ellen MacKenzie

Ellen MacKenzie, PhD, Fred and Julie Soper Professor and chair, HPM, was awarded the Society of Trauma Nurses Leadership Award.

Silvia Martins, MD, PhD, assistant scientist, Mental Health, received the American Psychiatric Association Research Colloquium for Junior Investigators Award in Toronto, Canada.

Curtis Meinert, PhD, professor, Epidemiology, received the APHA Statistics Section Award for his leadership promoting the role of randomized, controlled clinical trials.

Kenrad Nelson, MD, professor, Epidemiology, was elected the 2007 president of the American Epidemiological Society and also was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Neil Powe, MD, MPH, MBA, professor, Epidemiology, received the Distinguished Educator Award from the Association for Clinical Research Training.

Jonathan Samet

Jonathan Samet, MD, MS, Jacob I and Irene B. Fabrikant Professor in Health, Risk and Society and chair, Epidemiology, received the 2006 Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Rochester.

Barbara Starfield

Barbara Starfield, MD, MPH '63, professor, HPM, received an Award for Excellence and Innovation in Value Purchasing from the U.S. Business Group on Health.

Keith P. West, Jr., DrPH '87, MPH '79, George G. Graham Professor of Infant and Child Nutrition, International Health, received the Kellogg Prize for International Nutrition at the Experimental Biology 2007 meeting for his contributions to international nutrition research.

Scott Zeger

Scott Zeger, PhD, Frank Hurley and Catharine Dorrier Professor and chair, Biostatistics, is the recipient of the 2007 Marvin Zelen Leadership Award in Statistical Science from Harvard University's Department of Biostatistics. He has also been awarded the Royal Statistical Society's 2007 Bradford Hill Medal, given every three years to a Fellow of the Society for outstanding contributions to the development, application or exposition of medical statistics.

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