News: News Archives
Head of AIDS Program Recognized
for Improving International Scientific Cooperation
Kenneth Bridbord says he has worked in relative obscurity much of his professional life, but the importance of the work he does has not gone unnoticed, as he discovered recently when he won the prestigious AAAS Award for International Scientific Cooperation.
"The AAAS Board is recognizing Dr. Bridbord for his decisive impact in training researchers worldwide, for his support of collaborative public health research between scientists in the United States and other countries, especially in expanding international research on AIDS," said AAAS Project Director Judy Kass. "Dr. Bridbord has contributed tremendously to the understanding and the development of science across national boundaries."
For the last 17 years, Dr. Bridbord has been with the John E. Fogarty International Center for Advanced Study in the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md. The international component of the National Institutes of Health, the Fogarty Center promotes research and training in the health sciences through partnerships between U.S. and foreign scientists and institutions. In his role as director of the center's Division of International Training and Research, which he has held for the last six years, Dr. Bridbord has focused in particular on the initiative to combat AIDS, which provides training for scientists in developing countries to address the epidemic primarily through prevention research, combining biomedical and behavioral interventions.
Since its inception in 1988, the AIDS International Training and Research Program has funded the training of approximately 2000 scientists from 100 nations, and sponsored overseas courses that have benefited more than 40,000 health scientists around the world.
"I take the most pride in seeing how people graduating from our program take their knowledge and their contributions to science and use it help their countries combat AIDS," said Bridbord, a pediatrician with a masters from the Harvard School of Public Health.
The Fogarty Center's training programs overseas dovetail well with the research interests of many of the institutes and centers that make up the National Institutes of Health, and Bridbord says the AIDS program is becoming a model for research and training programs that address other conditions that affect the health of people in developing countries.
"We've come at these issues as health professionals from a humanitarian perspective," Bridbord said. "But for strategic reasons, there is a growing interest in global health -- for reasons of economic development and political stability. And we can't tackle major health problems abroad without drawing on major talent."
Dr. Bridbord, who has also worked for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the Center for Disease Control, and the Environmental Protection Agency, is well known in some circles for his role at EPA in developing the basis for why it was important to the nation's health to remove lead from gasoline, and for helping in the drafting of the initial federal regulation aimed at removing lead from gasoline. He was honored for this work with a Silver Medal from the EPA in 1975.
A native of Brooklyn, NY, Dr. Bridbord began his academic career studying chemical engineering at The Cooper Union, but applied to medical school at the University of Chicago after realizing he wanted to follow a career that would have a direct impact on people. A stint as a volunteer during medical school helping people in underprivileged neighborhoods in Chicago led Dr. Bridbord to see the importance of prevention in addressing disease.
The AAAS Award for International Scientific Cooperation was established by the AAAS Board of Directors in 1993. The board will present Dr. Bridbord with the award's $2,500 monetary prize and commemorative plaque on 17 February 2001, during the AAAS annual meeting in San Francisco.
-- Coimbra Sirica