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Alumni Awards

2019 Alumni Award Winners

Bloomberg School alumni have a growing list of accomplishments.

Congratulations to our Bloomberg School 2019 winners!

Learn More About Our Award Winners

Franklin C. Baer, MHS-TM '77
Franklin Baer Headshot

Franklin C. Baer, MHS-TM '77

Health Systems Development Specialist

Global Achievement Award

Franklin Baer is one of the world’s leading and most experienced technical advisors for strengthening primary health care services in resource-constrained settings in Africa. After completing his degree at Johns Hopkins in 1976, he helped develop one of the first faith-based managed health zones in DR Congo (then Zaire). In the 1980s, he served as project manager for the USAID-funded SANRU (Santé Rurale) project to develop 100 decentralized health zones, many with faith-based partners. Since 1991, he has worked as an independent consultant and technical advisor to many different governmental and non-governmental organizations.

Baer is widely admired for his knowledge and consensus-building skills in designing and improving primary health care systems. He has worked in 28 countries, primarily within sub-Saharan Africa. In 2000, he led the design of the SANRU III project to begin the rebuilding process for DRC’s health system. Similarly, he made more than twenty trips to Liberia (2006-2013) as a key advisor to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare to develop its national health plan to rebuild and decentralize its war-torn health system. In 2011, he helped SANRU evolve into a national NGO, and serves as its Vice-President. SANRU is currently Principal Recipient for Global Fund, GAVI and other donor funding to develop, rebuild and sustain more than 400 health zones across DRC. Baer has also been a long-term leader of the organization Christian Connections for International Health, and in 2017 received its International Health Champion award.

Colleen T. Cutcliffe, PhD '04
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Colleen T. Cutcliffe, PhD '04

CEO, Director and Founder, Whole Biome

Distinguished Alumna Award

Colleen Cutcliffe (formerly Colleen Tsui) is a rising star in the biotechnology sector with over 15 years of experience leading and managing biology teams in academia, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology. Cutcliffe was a graduate student in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in from 1998-2003. Her PhD thesis focused on the molecular mechanisms of ubiquitin signaling and was completed with the late Cecile Pickart. She subsequently completed postdoctoral studies in cancer biology with Elizabeth Perlman at the Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago. Following postdoctoral studies, Cutcliffe worked as a Scientist in the Parkinson's Disease Discovery Group at Elan Pharmaceuticals before serving as Senior Manager of Biology at Pacific Biosciences. 

Cutcliffe is currently CEO and Director of Whole Biome, a biotech startup located in San Francisco that has received funding from the Mayo Clinic, Sequoia, Khosla Ventures and others. Whole Biome, which she co-founded, is focused on developing novel classes of interventions, therapeutics and diagnostics that target the human microbiome to treat disease and improve lives. Whole Biome has been listed in the “Top 20 Companies to Watch” in Biotech SF and in the “Top 10 AI companies in Biology” in the Bloomberg Report. In addition to her position at Whole Biome, she is the Chair of the Jeanie Ritchie Grant Foundation and serves on the Board of Directors of the Menlo Park-Atherton Education Foundation. Lastly, Cutcliffe is an advocate for women in scientific careers. She participated at a Women in Bio alumni meetup event sponsored by Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures and can be seen speaking on the topic on the Career Girls YouTube channel.

Nitish K. Dogra, MPH '05
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Nitish K. Dogra, MPH '05

Associate Professor, International Institute of Health Management Research (IIHMR), New Delhi; Convenor, Centre for Climate, Environment and Health, IIHMR; Chapter Representative, Johns Hopkins Alumni India Club

Community Hero Award

Nitish Dogra, MD, is a public health physician, currently serving as faculty at IIHMR, a JHSPH collaborating health management institute in India. In addition to his MPH from JHSPH, Dogra received an MBBS and an MD from the University of Delhi. He has been a Visiting Faculty at the Dept. of Earth & Planetary Sciences, JHU, while on a Fulbright Fellowship.

It was in Delhi that he gained community experience at the start of his career working with urban poor children on air pollution and health. This led him to JHSPH. Armed with his degree he returned to India. Here he has catalyzed the field of climate and health with achievements such as being editor for Climate Change and Disease Dynamics in India, convening the NIH-supported Understanding Climate and Health Associations in India (UCHAI) training workshop and delivering an invited commentary at the 1st Conference on Health & Climate at WHO Headquarters, Geneva.

In the last 3 years, as the Delhi air pollution crisis has spiraled, Dogra has worked with JHU alumni, Fulbright fellows, the US Embassy in India, physicians, citizen groups and his own neighborhood to spread awareness for minimizing air pollution personal exposure. He was preceptor to Carolyn Hricko, an MPH alumna who got a best practicum award for work related to air pollution advocacy in Delhi. Dogra’s innovation linking a community-based air quality monitoring system with social media has been featured on BBC. He believes that science which doesn’t reach society, isn’t science at all!

Ralph Hingson, ScD '74
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Ralph Hingson, ScD '74

Director, Division of Epidemiology and Prevention Research, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Woodrow Wilson Award

Since 2004, Ralph Hingson has directed the Division of Epidemiology and Prevention Research at the National Institute on Alcohol and Alcohol Abuse, the world’s leading funder of research on alcohol use, health and prevention. He has published nearly 200 articles and book chapters on topics including the effects of raising the legal drinking age, laws making it illegal for persons under 21 to drive after drinking, and lowering the legal blood alcohol limit to 0.08%. All 50 states enacted these laws. He has published on magnitude, trends and prevention of underage and college drinking. Since the early 1980s, underage binge drinking has been cut in half. College binge drinking has declined since 2005.

Currently, he serves on the coordinating committee, implementing the World Health Organization’s Strategic Plan to reduce harmful alcohol misuse globally. He was president of the International Council on Alcohol Drugs and Traffic Safety (ICADTS) from 2005-2009. He served on MADD's National Board of Directors from 1995-2000, becoming Vice President for Public Policy. He joined the Boston University faculty in 1973, became full professor and the Social and Behavioral Sciences Department chair from 1986-2001, and was the Boston University School of Public Health’s Associate Dean for Research from 2001-2004.

His numerous honors include the American Society of Addiction Medicine Distinguished Scientist Award; ICADTS Widmark and Borkenstein Awards; MADD’s Annual Ralph W. Hingson Research in Practice Award; the NIH Director's 2017 Award for Contributions to the Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs and Health; and Who’s Who Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award. 

Shalon Irving, MPH '09
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Shalon Irving, MPH '09

Lieutenant Commander, U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Epidemic Intelligence Service

Distinguished Alumna Award, posthumous

Shalon Irving was a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, working as an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Epidemic Intelligence Service. She dedicated her life to understanding how structural inequality, trauma and violence affect health over a lifetime. Her specific focus was on the elimination of racial disparities in health through the development and implementation of community-based participatory approaches to health improvement, with specific emphasis on improving health outcomes for urban African–American women from their adolescence to middle-adulthood.

Irving was Purdue University's first recipient of a dual doctorate in sociology and gerontology, and she completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Kellogg Health Scholars Program at Morgan State University. After receiving her MPH at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, she worked on the front lines helping at-risk infants, teenage girls, and mothers with HIV/AIDS. She was passionate about improving food and housing security to reduce people's risk for high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems. Irving then joined the CDC's Division of Violence Prevention, refocusing on issues around trauma and domestic abuse — a mission she saw as "liberating" for African-American women. She also started a coaching business called Inclusivity Standard to advise young people from disadvantaged backgrounds who wanted to get into college or grad school and organizations seeking to become more diverse. 

Read more about her life and legacy

Mindi B. Levin, MS, CHES ®; JHSPH Faculty
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Mindi B. Levin, MS, CHES ®; JHSPH Faculty

Founder and Director, JHU SOURCE; Assistant Scientist, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, HBS (primary) and HPM (joint)

Community Hero Award

Mindi Levin is the Founder/Director of SOURCE, the community engagement and service-learning center for the JHU Schools of Public Health, Nursing and Medicine. SOURCE’s mission is to engage the health professional schools and Baltimore communities in mutually beneficial partnerships that promote health and social justice. Opportunities coordinated through SOURCE provide professional development opportunities for students, while simultaneously responding to community-identified needs.

Together with her team, Levin has worked to integrate public health practice and community engagement activities into the academic curriculum, and to provide programs and services that embrace the values of service, justice, diversity and reciprocity. She teaches and supports a variety of service-learning courses, and trains faculty and community leaders in service-learning pedagogy. She created and serves as faculty co-sponsor for the Community-Based Public Health certificate. Other initiatives that Levin has helped develop include: The Connection Community Consultants, SOURCE HIV Counseling and Testing, SOURCE Service-Learning Faculty and Community Fellows, SOURCE Service Scholars, The Identity Clinic, and Baltimore Action Projects.

Her work has been recognized with a multitude of honors, including the Institutional Leadership Award from Campus Compact of the MidAtlantic, Excellence in Practice from ACPA College Student Educators International, Michael Jenkins Humanitarian Award from Operation PULSE, and Very Important Professionals by the Daily Record. Over 13,000 JHU students have logged more than 400,000 hours of service in Baltimore through SOURCE since 2005.

Lucy Marcil, MD, MPH '13
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Lucy Marcil, MD, MPH '13

Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Boston University School of Medicine

Outstanding Recent Graduate Award

Lucy Marcil, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine, has demonstrated leadership, outstanding clinical skills and a commitment to her patients while thinking creatively about developing strategies to lessen the impact of childhood poverty in the community – both domestically and abroad. During her medical residency, she learned that 20% of families eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) do not receive it. In response, she co-founded StreetCred to fight childhood poverty by providing EITC-eligible families with financial literacy training and tax preparation services during their pediatric medical visits.
 
To help scale up the efforts of StreetCred, Marcil conducted a needs assessments at nine clinics across six states; raised approximately $200,000 in grants, corporate donations and grassroots fundraising; and hired and supervised a team of seven staff – all while completing a rigorous medical residency program. Under her leadership, StreetCred has served 2,000 families, returning over $4,000,000 to families to date, with a return on investment of $20 to families for every $1 spent on the program. She has expanded StreetCred to four sites in Boston and several states nationally and is looking to leverage clients’ tax data to help them apply for other resources – all while working to expand the program nationally. Her work with StreetCred was recently recognized when she was named a 2018 TED Fellow.
 
Prior to moving to Boston, she created a care program for Namibian orphans affected by HIV and supported a community health program for mothers and children living in slums in Bangladesh. Domestically, Marcil worked in Baltimore and Philadelphia to alleviate childhood toxic stress.

Photo credit: Nick Ciorogan of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation

Nader Moinfar, MPH '11
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Nader Moinfar, MPH '11

Chief of Ophthalmology, Lakeland Regional Medical Center; Vice Chairman, Department of Ophthalmology, Orland Regional Healthcare System

Outstanding Recent Graduate Award

Nader Moinfar, MD, entered the MPH program with the goal of finding an avenue for placing his clinical work as a retina specialist within the context of public health; he completed his MPH in 2011. Since then, Moinfar has assumed leadership positions, including Chairman of Ophthalmology of Orlando Regional Healthcare System (ORHS), as well as Chief of Ophthalmology for the Lakeland Regional Medical Center. He also serves on the Leadership, as well as Medical Executive Committees of ORHS, and the Medical Staff Quality Improvement and Multidisciplinary Peer Review Council of Lakeland Regional.

Since completing his MPH, Moinfar has also served on  the Credentials Committee, Winter Haven Hospital; Collaborative Quality Advisory Committee, ORHS; and the Surgical Working Group, Diabetic Retinopathy Clinical Research Group (NIH). He is a peer reviewer for the journals Ophthalmology, and Retina. Moinfar has performed multiple volunteer surgical trips to West Africa and Central America; his capstone project involved work he did in Honduras while in the MPH program. As an alumnus, he has served on the Bloomberg School's DAAC (Dean’s Academic Advisory Council) and established, soon after his graduation, the Moinfar Family Scholarship Fund for a MPH student in financial need at the School.

Brett D. Nelson, MD, MPH '04, DTM&H
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Brett D. Nelson, MD, MPH '04, DTM&H

Pediatrician and Global Health Faculty, Massachusetts General Hospital; Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School

Distinguished Alumnus Award

Brett Nelson is committed to a life of improving the health of newborns, children and mothers worldwide through research, innovation and advocacy for vulnerable populations, particularly newborns and children in settings affected by poverty, conflict or disaster. 

Since the early 1990s, Nelson has been involved in clinical care, academic research, program management, and global health consultancy in dozens of disrupted and resource-limited areas while working for organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control, Médecins Sans Frontières, UNICEF, International Rescue Committee, International Red Cross and Red Crescent, Johns Hopkins University, and Harvard University. He helped establish the United States’ first Pediatric Global Health Fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital and was its first fellow. Recently in Liberia, Dr. Nelson served as the country’s Senior Pediatrician and as the Chair of Pediatrics and Newborn Medicine for the country's sole teaching hospital. He currently leads newborn and child health programs in several countries in East and West Africa. 

Dr. Nelson works clinically as a newborn hospitalist, he leads several global health initiatives, and he directs a popular course at Harvard Medical School on global health and tropical medicine. In addition to his degree from BSPH, he holds a diploma degree in tropical medicine from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Dr. Nelson has published two textbooks, including the new Wiley-Blackwell medical textbook, Essential Clinical Global Health, and over 80 peer-reviewed articles.

Alan L. Sorkin, PhD, MA; JHSPH Faculty
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Alan L. Sorkin, PhD, MA; JHSPH Faculty

Adjunct Professor, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; Professor Emeritus, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Heritage Award

Alan Sorkin has contributed a lifetime of outstanding academic service to the progress of the Johns Hopkins University and University of Maryland. After receiving all three of his degrees from the JHU Department of Political Economy (BA, MA and PhD), he spent two years at The Brookings Institution and five years at the Bloomberg School where he was promoted to Associate Professor in 1972. From 1974 to 2006, he was Professor and Chair of Economics at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. Since 2006, he has been Professor Emeritus at that institution, and adjunct professor at the Bloomberg School.

Sorkin’s work is well known within the global public health community. The breadth, depth and quality of his research is evidenced by his publications, which include twelve books and eight co‐edited volumes covering a number of topics in applied economics and health economics. His most recent research is on the health status of Native Americans living on or near reservations and the adequacy of Indian Health Service Programs to serve this population. Sorkin is dedicated to applied economics, health economics and to the communities his work serves.

Rita Thapa, MPH '65
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Rita Thapa, MPH '65

Founding Chair Person, Bhaskar Memorial Foundation;  Pro-Bono Executive Director, Bhaskar Initiative for School Heart Health Empowerment Studies; Nepal;  Visiting Professor, School of Public Health, BPK Institute of Health Science, Dharan, Nepal; Health Policy Advisor, Ministry of Health and Population

Distinguished Alumna Award

Rita Thapa’s career spans 56 years now of distinguished leadership in maternal and child health, primary health care, and community health in Nepal and internationally. She earned her MPH from Johns Hopkins in 1965, and is widely known as the visionary founder of Nepal’s primary health care system, which has been responsible for making Nepal a global leader in reducing maternal and child mortality in spite of the political turmoil that Nepal has experienced for the past three decades. Heading the Community Integration Project in 1975, she created a countrywide network of District Health Offices, Health Posts, Village Health Workers, Mothers’ Groups, and Female Community Health Workers. She is one of the few people still living who attended the famous 1978 International Conference on Primary Health Care at Alma-Ata, Kazakhstan, representing Nepal and signing the Declaration of Alma-Ata, which is now considered the “gold standard” for primary health care programs around the world.

After serving in Nepal’s Ministry of Health for nearly 20 years, she joined in 1986 the World Health Organization in Manila, Geneva and New Delhi, retiring in 2001 as the Director of the Department of Health Systems and Community Health. After retirement, working as Senior Health Policy Advisor, Thapa has contributed to various public health policies, recently in restructuring health services into Federal, Province and Local Municipality levels in 2017, including to Nepal’s Public Health Act 2018. She has been working on non-communicable disease control and research, and many other high-level activities nationally and internationally.

In 2014, she was awarded Honor Plaque by Minister of Health and Population, at a public function for initiating and expanding the Government’s Family Planning-Maternal & Child Health services up to rural areas of Nepal. In 2016 she received the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Nepal Public Health Foundation in recognition of her “years of dedicated service in the field of public health and her personal example of leadership and competence of the highest standards of excellence and inspiration to all.” In 2018, Thapa received Life Time Achievement Award from Perinatal Society of Nepal in recognition of her outstanding contribution and service to Perinatal Health in Nepal.

She delivered a keynote speech on the 40th anniversary of the Alma-Ata Declaration at the invitation of the Bloomberg School in September 2018.

Paul U. Unschuld, PhD, MPH '74
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Paul U. Unschuld, PhD, MPH '74

Professor and Director, Institute for the Theory, History and Ethics of Chinese Life Sciences, Charité-Medical University Berlin

Distinguished Alumnus Award

Paul U. Unschuld was trained at the Munich University School of Pharmacy. In addition to his MPH '74, he earned a PhD in Chinese studies. In 1975, Unschuld was Assistant Professor in the Department of Behavioral Sciences at the Bloomberg School. In 1986, he became Director and Professor at the Research Institute for the History of Medicine at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet in Munich, Germany. He was a Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Berlin in 1998. Unschuld was named Founding Director and Professor of the newly established Horst-Goertz-Institute for the Theory, History, and Ethics of Chinese Life Sciences at Charité-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin in 2006.

In 2008, he was elected President of the International Society for the History of East Asian Science, Technology and Medicine. Unschuld's research focuses on the comparative history of medicine and related life sciences in China and Europe, with a focus on the history of ideas. As a leading Sinologist and expert in ancient medicine, he has published on the history of Chinese medicine, pharmaceutics and medical ethics. Among his recent publications are Huang Di Nei Jing Ling Shu - The Ancient Classic on Needle Therapy published by the University of California Press and The Fall and Rise of China. Healing the Trauma of History, distributed in the USA by Chicago University Press. He has published over 30 books on these subjects and is the world’s leading expert in ancient Chinese medicine.

Andrea Willis, MPH '99
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Andrea Willis, MPH '99

Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, BlueCross BlueShield Tennessee

Distinguished Alumna Award

Andrea Willis is dedicated to the health of Tennessee’s families. As Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at BlueCross BlueShield Tennessee, she is the standard bearer for clinical excellence and positive health outcomes, ensuring that all clinical initiatives and quality endeavors support members’ needs and contribute to the overall health and well-being of their communities. She is currently overseeing the company’s initiative to combat the opioid crisis in the state and also leads efforts to partner with churches to develop a series of health screening events.

Willis’ passion for better health and a better health care system stems from her early professional experience as a pediatrician. Within BlueCross, she has served as medical director, advising on care structures for many successful programs, including the CHOICES Long-Term Services and Support program for the state’s Medicaid population, and CoverTennessee, a low-cost insurance plan for uninsured, low-income small business workers and self-employed individuals.

Before joining BlueCross BlueShield, she served the State of Tennessee as director of CoverKids, helping develop Tennessee’s federally approved State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), and served as deputy commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Health.