A Tradition of Excellence
Harvard has a long legacy of women who have excelled in the field of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Every year, the New England College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (NECOEM) recognizes an “individual who exemplifies and advances the highest ideals of occupational and environmental medicine” by honoring them with the Harriet Hardy Award. Below are Harvard affiliates and recent program graduates who have gone on to make lasting contributions to the field.
Alice Hamilton, MD (1869-1970)
Dr. Hamilton quickly realized that while some progress in understanding occupational illness and disease was being made in Europe, little was written or understood about occupational disease conditions in the U.S. In 1908, she published one of the first articles on occupational disease in this country and was soon a recognized expert on the topic. Starting in 1910, under the sponsorship initially of a commission of the State of Illinois, and later the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, she conducted a series of brilliant explorations of occupational toxic disorders. Relying primarily on “shoe leather epidemiology,” and the emerging laboratory science of toxicology, she pioneered occupational epidemiology and industrial hygiene in the U.S. Her findings were so scientifically persuasive that they caused sweeping reforms, both voluntary and regulatory, to improve the health of workers.
In 1919, Dr. Hamilton was appointed Assistant Professor of Industrial Medicine at Harvard Medical School and became the first female faculty member at Harvard University. There she served two terms on the Health Committee of the League of Nations. She moved to the Harvard School of Public Health upon its founding and chaired the Department of Industrial Medicine. While she was considered to be the best candidate for the position, the University was against the idea of a woman educating men, as the predominant idea at the time was that only men can educate men. But the School of Public Health’s leaders persisted, and eventually the University accepted her on their faculty in Industrial Medicine. The department would eventually give birth to the training program in Occupational and Industrial Medicine. When she retired from Harvard at the age of sixty-six, she became a consultant to the U.S. Division of Labor Standards and served as President of the National Consumers League.
Joseph Brain, Cecil K. and Philip Drinker Professor of Environmental Physiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, co-authored the book The Education of Alice Hamilton. For more information on the book, please visit here. For more information on Alice Hamilton, please visit NECOEM (New England College of Occupational & Environmental Medicine).
Photo and biography adapted from: CDC NIOSH
Harriet Hardy, MD (1906-1993)
Rose Goldman, MD, MPH (OEMR Class of 1981)
What she likes about OEM: Dr. Goldman likes the opportunities for clinical assessment, particularly toxicological; preventive medicine interventions, teaching, research, and advocacy.
Carolyn Langer, MD, JD, MPH (OEM Class of 1993)
Dr. Langer is an Instructor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (HSPH), where she teaches graduate and continuing education courses and sits on the HSPH Occupational Medicine Residency Advisory Committee. She also holds an appointment as an Associate Professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and sits on the Advisory Board for the Health Policy and Management Department at the Boston University School of Public Health. In 2018 Dr. Langer co-founded Pathways to Inclusive Health Care (PIHC), an innovative gap year program that enables post-baccalaureate, pre-health professions students to gain experience working with individuals with disabilities, particularly those with autism and intellectual disabilities. Housed within the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center at UMass Medical School, the PIHC program is creating a pipeline of future healthcare professionals who will make a difference in closing the health equity gap for those with disabilities.
Dr. Langer received her medical degree from Jefferson Medical College and completed her residency in occupational medicine at the Harvard School of Public Health. She also holds a law degree and a Masters in Public Health from Harvard University. In 2012 she received the Boston Business Journal Champion in Healthcare Award (Administrator category). In 2016 she received the HSPH Annual Leadership in Public Health Practice Award. In 2020 she received the Occupational Medicine Residents teaching award. Dr. Langer is a retired Colonel and former flight surgeon and hospital commander in the Army National Guard.
What she likes about OEM: Dr. Langer was attracted to occupational medicine due to the variety of focus areas offered by this discipline, such as direct patient care, preventive medicine, health promotion and worker productivity, disability management, research, and education. In reality, occupational medicine physicians have been practicing “population health” long before this term was coined. She further appreciates the range of available work settings, including, but not limited to, clinical, administrative, academic, corporate, government, and military.
M. Christine David, DO, MPH (OEMR Class of 2012)
Liz Kwo, MD, MBA, MPH (OEMR Class of 2017)
Leslie R. Cadet, MD, MPH (OEMR Class of 2019)
Leslie’s favorite part of OEM is the detective work involved in determining causation. Excelling in this area makes her a strong advocate for both the worker and the employer. She also enjoys learning about the details of her patients’ work, as it gives her a greater appreciation for the contributions they make towards the successful functioning of our society.