Press Release

Public Health Heroes to be honored at March 18 ceremony

| 17 March 2009

A global health humanitarian, a health care system efficiency expert, a nursing advocate and an information technology non-profit group each will receive a 13th annual Public Health Heroes Award from the UC Berkeley School of Public Health on Wednesday, March 18.

The prize that the following individuals will receive is considered to be the only one given by a university to individuals and organizations for their efforts to build healthier lives in a safer world:

  • Dr. Paul Farmer will receive the International Hero award for his dedication to treating some of the world's most impoverished populations and raising the standard of health care in poor areas of the world.
  • Dr. John E. Wennberg will receive the National Hero award for his leadership in pointing the way to cost reduction and efficacy improvements in the U.S. health care system.
  • Betty Moore will receive the Regional Hero award for her contributions to improving the quality of nursing care and to the nursing workforce in California, and for setting an example for the nation at large.
  • WiRED International will receive the Organizational Hero award for its achievements in using information technology to provide up-to-date health education and medical information in developing, post-conflict, and isolated regions of the world.

At a ceremony at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee will present Farmer's award in absentia by video; Richard M. Levy, chairman of Varian Medical Systems, will present Wennberg's award; Edward E. Penhoet and Helen Kim, former president and former chief program officer of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, will present Moore's award; and Robert A. Corrigan, president of San Francisco State University, will present the award to WiRED International.

The Public Health Heroes honor was established in 1996 by the UC Berkeley School of Public Health to recognize innovative leaders who have made meaningful contributions to the protection and promotion of health. For information about this year's Public Health Heroes awards ceremony or to reserve seats, visit:

About International Hero Paul Farmer:

Medical anthropologist and physician Paul Farmer is the Maude and Lillian Presley Professor in the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School and a founding director of Partners In Health, an international non-profit organization that provides direct health care services and undertakes research and advocacy activities on behalf of those who are sick and living in poverty. Farmer's work draws primarily on active clinical practice and focuses on community-based treatment strategies for diseases that disproportionately afflict the poor, health and human rights. He also studies the role of social inequalities in determining the distribution and outcomes of infectious diseases.

Farmer is an attending physician in infectious diseases and associate chief of the Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) in Boston, and served for 10 years as medical director of a charity hospital, L'H˘pital Bon Sauveur, in rural Haiti. Along with his colleagues at BWH, in the Program in Infectious Disease and Social Change at Harvard Medical School, and in Haiti, Peru, Russia, Rwanda, Lesotho and Malawi, Farmer has pioneered novel, community-based treatment strategies for AIDS and tuberculosis (including multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis). Farmer and his colleagues have successfully challenged policymakers and critics who claim that quality health care is impossible to deliver in resource-poor settings. He is the subject of Pulitzer Prize-winner Tracy Kidder's book "Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World" (Random House, 2003).

About National Hero John Wennberg:

John E. Wennberg holds the Peggy Y. Thomson Chair in the Evaluative Clinical Sciences at Dartmouth Medical School. He is also founder and director emeritus of The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice. Wennberg has received numerous awards and is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Science and the Johns Hopkins University Society of Scholars.

With colleague Dr. Alan Gittelsohn, Wennberg developed a strategy for studying the population-based rates of health resource allocation and utilization. This method, called small-area analysis and first published in 1973, revealed large variations in health care usage among different areas. Work to uncover the reasons behind these variations led Wennberg and his colleagues to develop techniques to document the results of common medical practices, a strategy that came to be called outcomes research.

Wennberg is the founding editor of The Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care project, which examines the patterns of medical resource intensity and utilization in the United States. The Atlas project has also reported on patterns of end-of-life care, inequities in the Medicare reimbursement system, and the underuse of preventive care.

About Regional Hero Betty Moore:

In September 2000, Betty Moore and her husband Gordon established the Palo Alto, Calif.-based Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, which seeks to develop outcome-based projects that will improve the quality of life for future generations. The foundation focuses its work in three areas of interest to the Moores: environmental conservation, science and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Passionate about improving the quality of health care, Betty Moore provided the vision and leadership that led the foundation to approve in 2003 the 10-year Betty Irene Moore Nursing Initiative. The initiative aims to improve patient safety and other outcomes through nurse-led initiatives in acute care hospitals within the five San Francisco Bay Area counties: Alameda, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara. Through her position on the Moore foundation's board of trustees, Moore continues to play an active role to ensure her vision for improved quality health care and patient safety is realized.

Moore served on the board of El Camino Hospital in Mountain View, Calif., and volunteered at the Palo Alto Senior Day Care Center. Today, she is a member of the governing board of Filoli, a historic house and garden near Woodside, Calif., that is part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and serves on its Fine Arts Committee.

About Organizational Hero WiRED International:

WiRED International's mission is to ensure equal access to information that saves lives. Providing equipment, coordination and contacts, it brings vital information to communities coping with the challenges of war, poverty and dislocation. Within a single day, WiRED can convert an empty room into a technology hub with global reach.

Executive director Gary Selnow, a professor at San Francisco State University, began WiRED's work in 1997 while serving as a Fulbright Fellow at Croatia's University of Zagreb just following the Balkan War. Selnow was moved by the war's impact on the region's children, who were without adequate educational resources and had no access to basic computer technologies. With a small seed grant from USAID, he launched WiRED - inspired by the idea that access to the Internet could help end the children's isolation and enhance their education. That idea evolved into a larger effort to provide medical education and information resources for health care educators and practitioners in troubled regions.

WiRED's technology information centers have served some 1 million people annually at nearly 100 locations in 12 countries on four continents. WiRED's Medical Information Centers supply isolated doctors and other health care professionals with computers, Internet access and other technology; medical curricula; and collaboration with well-trained doctors in developed countries. WiRED's Community Health Information Centers connect people at the grassroots level to interactive, computer-based information - often the only source of health information available to them. In addition to helping to bridge the information gap, WiRED operates on the philosophy that its centers should help promote reconciliation in communities through local collaboration and equal access.

About the Public Health Hero Award:

The Public Health Hero award was founded to honor pioneers working toward improved health for all and to raise awareness of the field of public health, a field in which many individuals and organizations work with dedication toward the greater good. Previous recipients of UC Berkeley Public Health Hero awards have included actor Rob Reiner, who cofounded the I Am Your Child Foundation; epidemiologist and technologist Dr. Larry Brilliant; and Rowe v. Wade attorney Sarah Weddington.

About the UC Berkeley School of Public Health:

Building on a campus tradition of preeminent interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary scholarship, education and public engagement that challenges conventional thinking, the UC Berkeley School of Public Health develops diverse leaders equipped to help solve the health challenges of the 21st century and beyond. The school's mission is to conduct world class, rigorous research; apply knowledge to prevent disease and injury and to promote the health of individuals and communities in California, the United States and the world; develop diverse leaders for professional and research careers through undergraduate, master's and doctoral programs; and enhance the knowledge and skills of the public health workforce through continuing education and technical assistance.