The Knowledge for the World Award 2013
Cyrus Y. Engineer, SPH ’03, ’08 (DrPH)
Cyrus Engineer is the Country Director for the Johns Hopkins University offices in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he leads a multi-disciplinary international team in overseeing the largest annual health facility survey in the world, national household sample surveys, evaluation of a results-based financing program, and HIV surveillance in an extremely difficult environment. The team is producing national, provincial, and local balanced scorecards on health. He is leading the dialogue with the government of Afghanistan on both policy and managerial issues, dealing with physical insecurity, and governance arrangements while under the intense scrutiny of the government and NGO community. Prior to his work in Afghanistan, Dr. Engineer worked for the World Health Organization (WHO) World Alliance for Patient Safety, where he led the first Global Patient Safety Challenge. This initiative aimed to heighten awareness regarding the issue of health care associated infections and raise the profile of hand hygiene among health care professionals globally. Due to the efforts of Dr. Engineer and his team, over 5800 hospitals from 123 countries endorsed this effort. Dr. Engineer continued his work for the WHO in Baltimore, where he served as the manager of WHO’s Patient Safety Project. Efforts included the evaluation of new global programs originating at WHO headquarters, as well as ongoing projects directed at reducing blood stream infections in a number of countries and the continuing global hand hygiene initiative.
Abdul Ghaffar, SPH ’01 (PhD)
Abdul Ghaffar is the executive director of Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research at the World Health Organization, an organization that promotes the generation and use of health policy and systems research as a means to improve health and health systems in developing countries. His career spans the public sector working as a senior ministry of health official, academia codirecting a public health educational institution, non-governmental experience with not-for-profit sector, and leadership at international organizations. He has been working for over 25 years in low- and middle-income countries managing research for health and developing national health systems. He has lead initiatives with developing countries to promote more health research to combat the neglected diseases and conditions that are major sources of ill health in those countries, including Brazil, Colombia, India, Mexico, Mozambique, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Zambia. Originally from Pakistan, he has done much to improve and impact performance of national health systems. He held multiple positions in the Pakistani Ministry of Health. He was a member of the policy development teams during the formulation of two national health policies. As a member of the Global Forum, he participated in discussions with national governments to campaign for more funds for research to reduce the 10/90 gap in health research. He has sat on boards for the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research, Road Traffic Injuries Research Network and Pakistan’s Health Policy Forum.
Mark Jacobson, SPH ’82
Mark Jacobson is currently the director of the Arusha Lutheran Medical Centre in Arusha, Tanzania, a new hospital that he designed and helped construct in 2008 to become a model of quality care and a center of excellence in research and training. Prior to this, Dr. Jacobson worked for the Selian Lutheran Hospital in Tanzania, where he brought specialized care to the marginalized and disabled, particularly focusing on women and children. He has begun the first program for obstetric fistula, conducts HPV research, started an AIDS program, has opened a rape and sexual assault care center, and has begun outreach services for children suffering from crippling orthopedic problems, skeletal fluorosis and from debilitating burns or cleft lips needing orthopedic or plastic surgery. Over 5,000 women and children have been helped through these projects. As one of 30 participants from five African countries and a signatory of the Cape Town Palliative Care Declaration in 2002, Dr. Jacobson helped form the African Palliative Care Association. Under his formative leadership and chairing of the board, APCA has grown into the lead pan-African organization for the promotion and standardization of hospice and palliative care in over 20 countries throughout the continent. Dr. Jacobson has started a nursing school, which opened in February 2013 and a surgical residency is currently under development. A rehabilitative house for children receiving surgical care at the two hospitals was founded in 2008, which cares for 60-80 patients at a time.
Raymond S. Martin, SPH ’85
Ray Martin currently serves as Executive Director of Christian Connections for International Health. He has over 40 years’ experience as an international development and public health specialist managing the design, implementation, and evaluation of large health and population programs. In August 2012, he received the 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Public Health Association's 1,500-member International Health Section, an award which honors "visionaries and leaders in APHA who have shaped the direction of international health." He recently chaired the International Health Section of the APHA, a body he has served on for 15 years, and also received the Distinguished Service Award of the Section. In a 25-year career with USAID, he was chief of the Health, Population, and Nutrition offices in Zaire, Pakistan, and Cameroon, and also served in Ghana and Morocco. From 1992 he worked for several years on African programs as a public health specialist at the World Bank before becoming an independent consultant. He has also worked as a steering committee member for the US Coalition for Child Survival, an NGO dedicated to raising awareness and increasing U.S. commitment to global efforts that improve the survival and health of children under five in developing countries. His international career began as a Mennonite volunteer in community development in Somalia and in refugee development in Tanzania.
Solomon H. Snyder, Med, ’68 (HS)
Currently University Distinguished Service Professor of Neuroscience, Pharmacology, and Psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Dr. Snyder founded the Department of Neuroscience in 1980. Under his direction, his department grew to one of the best neuroscience departments in the world and is now the largest basic science department at Hopkins. Four of its current faculty members rank among the top most-cited people in the field; no other institution has more than one. Listed by the Institute for Scientific Information as one of the 10 most-often cited biologists in the world, Dr. Snyder has published over 1,000 papers in the top journals and has the highest h-index (an index that attempts to measure both the productivity and impact of the published work of a scientist or scholar) of any living biologist. Dr. Snyder attended Georgetown University 1955-1958 and received his MD Cum Laude from Georgetown University School of Medicine in 1962. After a medical internship at the Kaiser Hospital in San Francisco, he served as a research associate 1963-1965 at the NIH, where he studied under Julius Axelrod, who shared the 1970 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discovery of the actions of neurotransmitters in regulating the metabolism of the nervous system. Snyder moved to the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine to complete his residency in psychiatry (1965–1968). He was appointed to the faculty in 1966 as Assistant Professor of Pharmacology. In 1968 he was promoted to Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Psychiatry and in 1970 to full Professor in both departments. After founding the Department of Neuroscience, Dr. Snyder served as its first director from 1980 to 2006. In 2006, the department was renamed the Solomon H. Snyder Department of Neuroscience in his honor. Many advances in molecular neuroscience have stemmed from Dr. Snyder’s work, with his laboratory pioneering the use of receptor binding studies to characterize the actions of neurotransmitters and psychoactive drugs. In 1973, he discovered the opioid receptor and later identified the existence of normally occurring opiate-like peptides in the brain and was subsequently awarded the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research in 1978. Over the past few decades, Dr. Snyder has contributed more to our understanding of neurotransmitter receptors than any other investigator, not only transforming our basic knowledge of neurotransmitter receptors, but also revolutionizing the development of drugs targeting these receptors and the therapeutic approaches by the pharmaceutical industry. Arguably among the most important advances in the modern neurosciences, unraveling the molecular basis of neuronal communication via neurotransmitters and their receptors and related messenger molecules has solidified Dr. Snyder’s role as the dominant figure in this era. For his work, Dr. Snyder has been recognized nationally and internationally, receiving over 40 awards and prizes for his work, including the Wolf Prize from the president of Israel in 1983, the Bower Award of the Franklin Institute in 1992, the National Medal of Science in 2005, and the Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research in 2007. He is the recipient of nine honorary doctorates and has been elected to honorific societies including the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Science, and the American Philosophical Society. In 1980, he served as the President of the Society for Neuroscience. He is also associate editor, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. In addition to his pioneering and transformative research, Dr. Snyder has served as mentor to many trainees who in their own right have created significant impacts in the field. Of those who have trained under his tutelage 16% are now working outside of academic medicine in industry (for example, venture capital, pharma, bioscience), 33% are full professors at world class institutions, and 7% are holding posts worldwide in Australia, France, Israel, and Japan, among others.
James M. Tielsch, SPH ’79, ’83 (PhD)
James Tielsch is a professor and associate chair of the Department of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, with joint appointments in the departments of Ophthalmology and Epidemiology. His research interests focus on two major areas: the epidemiology and control of blinding ocular disease in the United States and in developing countries, and the epidemiology and control of micronutrient malnutrition and infectious disease among young children in developing countries with special emphasis on vitamin A, iron, zinc, and neonatal health. Current research activities in the epidemiology of ocular disease include the Baltimore Pediatric Eye Disease Study and a number of other smaller studies. His work on the Baltimore Eye Survey was seminal in identifying causes of blindness and vision loss in older inner city Americans. He has been on the faculty of the Department of International Health since 1994, and has been associate chair for Academic Programs since 2002. In this position he oversees more than 300 students enrolled in the MSPH, PhD and DrPH degree programs in the areas of Health Systems, Human Nutrition, Global Disease Epidemiology and Control, and Social and Behavioral Interventions. He was the primary instructor for the department’s flagship course Introduction to International Health for 5 years, and currently teaches Introduction to Global Health to undergraduates in the Public Health Studies Program.
Owens Wiwa, SPH ’98
Owens Wiwa is the regional head of the Clinton Health Access Initiative in Abuja, Nigeria. He is a human rights activist deeply committed to the plight of his Ogoni people, and the brother of the late Ogoni leader, Ken Sara-Wiwa. He is the Vice Chairman of the Toronto chapter of the Sierra Club Canada and an active member of Amnesty International, where he supports the ‘Shell to Sea’ campaign. Dr. Wiwa was chair of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People’s (MOSOP) Social Welfare and Health Committee, a non-violent action group which called for Ogoni political self-determination and a greater share of the petroleum revenue from the Nigerian government, as well as the ownership of the petroleum beneath their land. Dr. Wiwa drew attention to Shell’s oil extraction practices, claiming that MOSOP documented an increase in cases of asthma, bronchitis, and skin disease caused by the deteriorating environment. He spoke at environmental conferences and high-profile world events, most notably addressing the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Peoples. Due to his involvement with MOSOP, Dr. Wiwa was arrested and imprisoned in December 1993, April 1994, and July 1994. After his brother was arrested and tortured by the Nigerian government, Dr. Wiwa learned that he was number one on the most wanted list, and continued his work underground. After the sentencing of his brother to death by hanging in a trial internationally condemned as a sham, Dr. Wiwa fled to the UK and later to Canada.