2012 Alumni Award of Merit Winners

From left, Swati Piramal, MPH ’92; Donald Hopkins, MPH ’70; Patricia Hartge, SM ’76, SD ’83; and Ching-Chuan Yeh, MPH ’81.

Winter 2013 ]

Four alumni nominated by their peers received the Harvard School of Public Health Alumni Award of Merit—the highest honor presented to an alumna or alumnus—at this year’s Alumni Weekend, held September 28–29 at the School.

Swati Piramal, MPH ’92, is working to change the trajectory of India’s health care, education, and public policy. Vice chairperson of Piramal Enterprises and director of the Piramal Foundation, she helps promote health in rural India through mobile health services, women’s empowerment projects, and support of community education to create young leaders.

Donald Hopkins, MPH ’70, played an important role in the eradication of smallpox before coming to HSPH and went on to tackle Guinea worm, a parasitic disease that once afflicted millions. His efforts, first at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and later at The Carter Center, have been pivotal in reducing reported cases of the disease from an estimated 3.5 million in 1986 to 1,058 in 2011.

Patricia Hartge, SM ’76, SD ’83, is a leader in the epidemiology of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, ovarian cancer, and a variety of other tumors. At the National Cancer Institute, where she serves as deputy director of the Epidemiology and Biostatistics Program, she has conducted research to reveal the environmental, genetic, and behavioral causes of these malignancies.

Ching-Chuan Yeh, MPH ’81, a physician, served as Taiwan’s minister of health from 2008 to 2009 and was a key figure in developing the country’s national health insurance system. During the SARS outbreak in 2003, Yeh left his post as a lecturer at the Tzu Chi University and volunteered to work in a quarantined hospital to help manage the crisis.


From left, Anita Patil Deshmukh, MPH ’05; Francisco Sy, SM ’81; Maura Bluestone, SM ’74; and Priya Agrawal, MPH ’06.

Additional Alumni Awards Included:

Emerging Public Health Professional Award

Priya Agrawal, MPH ’06, an obstetrician, gynecologist, and global women’s health professional, works to improve the health of mothers in developing countries. Most recently, she was asked to be executive director of Merck for Mothers, a $500 million, 10-year commitment to improving maternal survival globally.

Leadership in Public Health Practice Awards

Maura Bluestone, SM ’74, launched The Bronx Health Plan (now known as Affinity Health Plan), a not-for-profit Medicaid-managed care organization that was the first health plan licensed in New York to serve government-sponsored populations. She is currently chair of the Coalition of New York State Public Health Plan and is on the board of the Association for Community Affiliated Plans.

Francisco Sy, SM ’81, developed and directed the Infectious Disease Epidemiology Program at the University of South Carolina School of Public Health. He has also evaluated national HIV/AIDS prevention programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sy currently directs extramural research in minority health and health disparities at the National Institutes of Health, which provide resources to address major public health problems.

Public Health Innovator Award

Anita Patil Deshmukh, MPH ’05, works with Partners for Urban Knowledge, Action and Research (PUKAR), an independent collective exploring issues related to urbanization, with a focus on public health. By training local youth, known as Barefoot Researchers, in research design and data collection, PUKAR has documented the social determinants of health facing Kaula Bandar, an urban slum community in Mumbai, India. Its advocacy has led to the establishment of government health camps, a 90 percent childhood immunization rate, and the first legal access to water in the slum’s 50 years of existence.

Download a PDF of the 2012 Alumni Award of Merit Winners here