UC Berkeley News


SPH to host 9th annual 'Heroes' event

| 16 February 2005

A political visionary and a defender of choice are among this year's honorees by the School of Public Health, which will hold its annual Public Health Heroes award ceremony on Friday, March 18, at the Exploratorium in San Francisco.

The Public Health Heroes honor was established by the School of Public Health to promote awareness and understanding of the public-health field by recognizing individuals and organizations for their significant contributions and exceptional commitment to promoting and protecting human health.

The ceremony will be emceed by Associate Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs George Strait, who previously was an ABC News correspondent specializing in health coverage.

As always, "heroes" are selected in four categories: International, National, Regional, and Organizational. This year's International Hero is Ciro de Quadros, M.D., M.P.H, who has dedicated his career to freeing the world of infectious diseases, especially those that disproportionately affect the health and social development of the world's poorer countries.

Ciro de Quadros
A pioneer in developing effective strategies for surveillance and containment, de Quadros served as the World Health Organization's chief epidemiologist for smallpox eradication in Ethiopia in the 1970s. Following the global eradication of smallpox, he became director of the Division of Vaccines and Immunization for the Pan American Health Organization, for which he successfully directed efforts to eradicate poliomyelitis and measles from the Western Hemisphere. Since 2003, de Quadros has led Albert B. Sabin Vaccine Institute's international immunization advocacy programs, with a special emphasis on rotavirus and rubella in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Sarah Weddington
Sarah Weddington, a nationally known defender of women's rights, is SPH's National Hero for 2005. In 1972, at age 26, she successfully argued the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, which ensures a woman's right to a legal abortion. That same year she was elected to the Texas House of Representatives, serving three terms before becoming the U.S. Department of Agriculture's general counsel in 1977.

From 1978 to 1981, Weddington served as assistant to President Jimmy Carter, directing White House efforts to extend the time for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment and assisting in the selection of women for federal judiciary appointments. Weddington teaches at the University of Texas at Austin, is the author of A Question of Choice, and is at work on a book about women and leadership.

John Vasconellos
Regional Hero John Vasconcellos, who served in the California legislature for nearly four decades, worked to make politics and government credible by promoting new visions, goals, strategies, and coalitions to heal California. Throughout his long legislative career he sponsored wellness initiatives addressing everything from community-based nonviolent conflict resolution and alternative birthing practices to self-esteem-building, over-the-counter sales of hypodermic needles, and medical-marijuana regulation.

A longtime member of the Health and Human Services Committee, Vasconcellos negotiated a compromise between groups deadlocked on Medi-Cal abortion funding, chaired the subcommittee on aging and long-term care, and authored legislation to increase funding for vaccines and AIDS prevention and treatment. Now retired from public office, he is actively developing the Politics of Trust Network, a new movement in American politics fostering policies, programs, and political processes that inspire the healing potential of individuals and communities.

The Pacific Business Group on Health (PBGH), founded in 1989, is a nonprofit coalition of employers dedicated to improving the quality and effectiveness of health care while moderating costs. PBGH works collaboratively with leading health plans, provider organizations, researchers, consumer groups, and other stakeholders to promote marketplace solutions for the pressing health-care issues facing purchasers today. Employers large and small benefit from PBGH's leveraged buying power and efforts to report comparative performance information across health plans, physician groups, and hospitals.

For tickets and information about the Public Health Heroes awards ceremony, visit www.publichealthheroes.org.

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