Former Surgeon General David Satcher receives Richmond Award for work on disparities, mental illness, and improving sexual health of youth


For immediate release: Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Boston, MA — David Satcher, MD, PhD, the 16th Surgeon General of the United States and former Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has been named the 2008-2009 recipient of the Julius B. Richmond Award, the highest honor given by Harvard School of Public Health. Dr. Satcher’s career has been dedicated to eliminating health disparities, improving the sexual health of young people, and calling attention to the global impact of mental illnesses. He is currently Director of the Center of Excellence on Health Disparities and of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, GA.

The Richmond Award, conferred annually since 1997, recognizes those who carry forth the vision of former U.S. Surgeon General and Harvard emeritus professor Julius B. Richmond, who provided innovative leadership to protect vulnerable populations, children, and all Americans. Dr. Richmond issued the momentous Report on Tobacco that changed U.S. policies, set targets for the health of the American public with Healthy People 2000 and was the first national director of the Head Start Program. The award to Dr. Satcher is the first since Dr. Richmond passed away in 2008.

Dr. Satcher will address the Harvard community at a lecture and award ceremony sponsored by the HSPH Division of Public Health Practice and the Office of the Dean on Monday, May 4, 4:30-6 p.m., at the Joseph B. Martin Conference Center at Harvard Medical School, neighboring Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.

Members of the Harvard community wishing to attend, please RSVP to This event is not open to the public.

Press wishing to attend the event or to interview Dr. Satcher, please RSVP to

Appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1998 as the 16th surgeon general of the United States, Dr. Satcher for a time served simultaneously in the positions of surgeon general and assistant secretary of health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (He was Surgeon General from 1998-2002 and Assistant Secretary for Health from 1998-2001). His resume also includes serving as both Director of the CDC and Administrator of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Diseases Registry from 1993-1998.

Throughout his career, Dr. Satcher has focused his efforts on eliminating health disparities; improving the sexual health of young people, including encouraging sexual health education in schools; and reducing the social stigma associated with mental illnesses while raising awareness of these conditions globally. His efforts, although at times highly controversial, have brought about national conversations and paradigm shifts in how these topics are viewed by policy makers and health professionals alike.

Dr. Satcher’s life of public service has also included significant roles in higher education. He was President of Meharry Medical College in Nashville, TN, from 1982-1993, and Interim President of Morehouse School of Medicine from 2004-2006. He is currently Director of the Center of Excellence on Health Disparities and of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, GA. He is also the Poussaint-Satcher-Cosby Chair in Mental Health at Morehouse School of Medicine and was Director of the School’s National Center for Primary Care from 2002-2004.

He has received numerous awards and honors, including the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Award for Humanitarian Contributions to the Health of Humankind, and the National Association of Mental Illness Distinguished Service Award.

Said Julio Frenk, Dean of the Harvard School of Public Health, on conferring the School’s highest award on Dr. Satcher: “Dr. Satcher has dedicated his life to the well-being and dignity of all members of our global community, including particularly vulnerable groups — persons suffering from mental disorders, sexually active youth, members of ethnic and racial minorities — whose health needs had been treated with silence. Dr. Satcher inspires us all to boldly communicate — against discomfort, stigma or attempts at censorship — all the information that is needed to improve the public’s health.”

Past Recipients of the Julius B. Richmond Award:

Michael R. Bloomberg
Mayor of New York City

Dr. William H. Foege
Former Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci
Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

Kenneth Olden
Former Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
Erin Brockovich-Ellis
Environmental activist

Mike Moore
Former Mississippi Attorney
General Christine Gregoire
Washington Attorney General
Scott Harshbarger
Former Massachusetts Attorney General
Matthew Myers
President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
Dr. Dimitrios Trichopoulos
Vincent L. Gregory Professor of Cancer Prevention at HSPH

Katie Couric
NBC Today Show Host and Colorectal Cancer Screening Advocate

Senator Edward M. Kennedy

Dr. Marian Wright Edelman
Founder of the Children’s Defense Fund

Dr. David A. Hamburg
Co-chair, Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict
(1994-1999) and President Emeritus of the Carnegie Corporation

The late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere
Elder statesman and President of Tanzania (1962-1985)

Dr. M. Joycelyn Elders
Former U.S. Surgeon General

Donna Shalala
Former Secretary of Health and Human Services