Faculty members Nan Laird, Robert Blendon, and Sarah Fortune honored
December 15, 2011 – Nan Laird was appointed the new Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of Public Health. This honor recognizes her more than 35 years developing statistical methodology, teaching, and doing applied research. Laird succeeds the first holder of the professorship, Howard Koh, who is now Assistant Secretary for Health for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The professorship was established to honor former HSPH Dean Fineberg.
Laird currently is professor of biostatistics, a position she has held since 1986. She received her doctorate in statistics from Harvard University and joined the Faculty of Public Health as assistant professor in 1975. Laird was appointed chair of the Biostatistics Department in 1990 and led the department until 1999. She is a fellow of the American Statistical Association and the Institute of Mathematical Sciences, and a member of the International Statistical Institute.
Laird’s major research interest is the development of statistical methodology in four primary areas: statistical genetics, longitudinal studies, missing or incomplete data, and analysis of multiple informant data. She has worked extensively in the analysis of family based studies in genetics, and currently collaborates on genetic studies in schizophrenia, asthma and lung disease.
Robert Blendon is the inaugural recipient of the Richard L. Menschel Professorship in Public Health, a position that will be held in tandem with the directorship of the Division of Policy Translation and Leadership Development. This honor recognizes Blendon’s leadership of the Division, as well as his commitment to innovation and creativity in public health practice, research, scholarship, and teaching.
Blendon’s current appointments include senior associate dean for policy translation and leadership development. He also is a professor of health policy and political analysis at HSPH, with a joint appointment at Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He directs the Harvard Opinion Research Program, which focuses on better understanding public knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about major social policy issues in the U.S. and other nations. And he currently co-directs the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation/Harvard School of Public Health project on Understanding Americans’ Health Agenda.
From 1987 to 1996, Blendon served as chairman of the Department of Health Policy and Management at HSPH and as deputy director of the Harvard University Division of Health Policy Research and Education. Prior to his Harvard appointment, Blendon was senior vice-president at The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, where he was in charge of public policy programs. In addition, he has served as a senior advisor for the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National Governors Association, and the U.S. Congressional Committee on Ways and Means.
Sarah Fortune is the inaugural recipient of the Melvin J. and Geraldine L. Glimcher Assistant Professorship in the Division of Biological Sciences. Fortune has been an assistant professor of immunology and infectious diseases at HSPH since 2006. The Glimcher Assistant Professorship was established by the transfer of teaching and research funds that had supported the work of Laurie Glimcher, the former Irene Heinz Given Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases.
Fortune has made the pathogenesis of tuberculosis and the causes of variability in tuberculosis outcomes the focus of her career. Her lab seeks to understand M. tuberculosis (Mtb), the bacterium responsible for TB, and in particular how its ability to mutate contributes to drug resistance. Fortune is exploring new detection systems that show great promise in the effort to rapidly diagnose tuberculosis.
In 2010, Fortune received a Clinical Scientist Development Award from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation—an award aimed at encouraging the next generation of physician-scientists to stay committed to clinical research by providing support as they transition to independent research careers. Last year Fortune was also named a PopTech Science and Public Leadership Fellow. This honor recognizes fellows who are high-potential early- and mid-career scientists working in areas of critical importance to the nation and the planet. Fortune also has received the National Institutes of Health New Innovator Award and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Physician Scientist Early Career Development Award.