Dr. Lewis Kuller, former chair of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health’s department of epidemiology, was recently given the prestigious John Snow Award from the American Public Health Association (APHA) and the Royal Society for Public Health in England.
The award, which annually recognizes an outstanding scientist for excellence in epidemiologic practice or research, was presented to Dr. Kuller in New Orleans at the 2014 APHA annual meeting.
“APHA’s recognition of our work in cardiovascular disease prevention, women’s health and, more recently, aging is a testament to the skill and expertise of our team at Pitt Public Health,” said Dr. Kuller, professor emeritus. “One of my mentors, Dr. Abraham Lilienfeld, was the first recipient of this award, so it is a true honor to follow in his footsteps.”
Awardees are chosen for their contributions to the improvement of human health or substantial reduction in burden of disease through innovations in public health practice based on clear epidemiologic foundations or implementation of epidemiologic approaches to the solution of health problems. Their contributions are practical, explicit and applied, rather than theoretical or implicit.
The Snow Award is one of the oldest in the field of epidemiology. It commemorates John Snow, MD, a physician who practiced in nineteenth century Britain and is credited as one of the founding fathers of epidemiology, which is the branch of medicine that deals with the incidence, distribution, and possible control of diseases and other factors relating to health.
Dr. Snow used disease incidence data and mapping to determine that a cholera outbreak in the mid-1850s was associated with a public water pump. He convinced authorities to stem the outbreak by disabling the pump, which researchers later discovered had been dug near a cesspit.
Dr. Kuller made significant contributions in the study of cardiovascular disease and the use of noninvasive techniques, such as ultrasound, to detect early heart disease in people without symptoms. He is also recognized for his research on the risks and prevention of cancer, as well as the study of Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr. Kuller received his medical degree from George Washington University in 1959 and completed his residency in medicine at Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn, NY, in 1961. He continued his education at Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health, receiving a doctorate in public health in 1966 and going on to join the faculty.
In 1972, Dr. Kuller came to Pitt Public Health to chair its department of epidemiology, which he led for 30 years.
He has published more than 300 scientific articles, mostly in the field of epidemiology, and was recognized in a recent Thomson Reuters list as one of the most highly cited researchers worldwide.
View a video of Dr. Kuller’s award acceptance speech: