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2005 Award for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Recipient

2005 Award Recipients

AAAS Award for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility


David Michaels

Dr. David Michaels is this year’s recipient of the AAAS Award for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility. He is recognized for his commitment to obtain justice for workers whose health suffered from working in nuclear weapons programs, and for advocating scientific integrity in public policy making.

The AAAS Award for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility, established in 1980, honors scientists and engineers whose exemplary actions, often taken at significant personal cost, have served to foster scientific freedom and responsibility. The recipient receives $5,000 and a commemorative plaque.

David Michaels is research professor and associate chair in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at George Washington University’s School of Public Health and Health Services, and he directs the department’s doctoral program. He is an epidemiologist with extensive experience in research, regulatory and public policy, and program administration, and has focused much of his research and policy work on the health of the disadvantaged. He holds a B.A. degree in history from the City College of New York, a MPH degree in epidemiology, and a Ph.D. degree in sociomedical sciences, both from Columbia University.

Dr. Michaels holds faculty appointments at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and has taught epidemiology and biostatistics at several medical schools. He has conducted epidemiologic studies on typographers, commercial pressmen, construction workers, bus drivers, and paper workers, as well as on tuberculosis, sexually-transmitted disease, drug abuse, mental health, homelessness and HIV, and has lectured on occupational epidemiology in Colombia, Mexico, and Chile.

Since joining George Washington University, much of Dr. Michaels’ work has focused on the use of science in public policy. He is chair of the planning committee of the Project on Scientific Knowledge and Public Policy, bringing together an interdisciplinary group of scientists to examine the use and misuse of science in two forums in which public policy is shaped – the courts and the regulatory arena.

Dr. Michaels is the chief architect of the historic initiative, enacted in 2000, which compensates workers in the nuclear weapons complex who developed cancer or lung disease as a result of exposure to radiation, beryllium, and other hazards. He also oversaw promulgation of two major public rules: Chronic Beryllium Disease Prevention (10 CFR 850) and Nuclear Safety Management (10 CFR 830).

He has authored articles in JAMA, the International Journal of Epidemiology, the American Journal of Public Health, the journal Science, and the American Journal of Public Health. His appointments include serving on the editorial board of Preventive Medicine, and serving under the Clinton administration as the assistant secretary for environment, safety, and health at the U.S. Department of Energy. There, he was primarily responsible for protecting the health and safety of workers, neighboring communities, and the environment surrounding the nation’s nuclear weapons complex.

Dr. Michaels is the recipient of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Meritorious Service Award (2001), David P. Rall Award for Advocacy in Public Health by the American Public Health Association (2001), and the Samuel Gompers Award from the International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions (2000).

Please click here for a list of past recipients.