The medal for lifetime achievement in public health, first awarded in 2005, was named for Stephen Smith, an Academy Fellow and pioneer in the field of public health. The recipient should have led or significantly contributed to work that effected a significant change in public health policy or practice to improve population health, including work on the broad determinants of health, with a special emphasis on eliminating health disparities.

Eligibility Requirements

Award candidates demonstrating extraordinary contributions to the field of public health must be nominated via the Nominations Committee’s process (see Application Process below). The awardee must be available to accept the award in-person at the Academy’s Anniversary Discourse and Awards ceremony in November.

Application Process

During the first quarter of the year, a message is sent on behalf of the Nominations Committee to all Academy Fellows and Members soliciting nominations for the Academy’s five annual awards that are bestowed at the Annual Meeting of the Fellows and Discourse and Awards Ceremony in November. The task of the Nominations Committee is to recommend a list of nominees (two individuals per award, allowing for an alternate in case the first choice is unable to attend the November meeting) based on the submitted nominations. The nominees are discussed at great length and it is decided as a group which two names for each award should be advanced for consideration—there is the first candidate and then an alternate if the first choice cannot accept. The Academy President, Dr. Jo Ivey Boufford, extends the invitations to those selected. 

Award Information

The award recipient accepts the event in-person at the Academy’s Anniversary Discourse and Awards ceremony in November.


Previous Recipients:
  • 2016 Linda Rosenstock
  • 2015 Alfred Sommer
  • 2014 Sir Michael Marmot
  • 2013 David R. Williams
  • 2012 Honorable Michael R. Bloomberg
  • 2011 Thomas Frieden
  • 2010 Lisa Berkman
  • 2009 Philip J. Landrigan
  • 2008 Harvey V. Fineberg
  • 2007 William H. Foege
  • 2006 William B. Kannel, Allan Rosenfield
  • 2005 Lester Breslow