During my third year of medical school in Seattle in 1965, I received an LSU tropical medicine fellowship to study at the Children’s Hospital in San Jose, Costa Rica. Enroute to San Jose, I hitchhiked to New Orleans via Baltimore and Atlanta, stopping at medical centers to interview for internships.
After my residency at Charity Hospital in New Orleans, I joined CDC’s EIS program, as Oregon’s first EIS officer. That fall I went to Pakistan to conduct the first field trial of oral therapy for cholera. Exposures to intense problems associated with rapid population growth, poverty, and crowding led me to change my career.
I transferred to CDC’s Family Planning Evaluation Activity and to the Georgia Health Department. One of my first tasks in Georgia was to determine whether the new state law legalizing abortion would reduce maternal mortality. Because of continuing discriminatory access to services, it would not. A lawyer cited this social inequity in Doe v. Bolton, the Supreme Court case from Georgia that was decided concurrently with Roe V. Wade.
Two years later, CDC supported me in studying demography at Princeton for a year. I returned to CDC, spent a year in the CDC Director’s Office of Program Planning and Evaluation, then returned to the Family Planning Evaluation Division.
With CDC’s major reorganization in 1980-81, I became the first Director of the Division of Reproductive Health. In 1985, CDC assigned me to Emory to develop the Global Health Track, and in 1987 to USAID, New Delhi for two years—in charge of Population, Health and Nutrition. When I returned from India, I chose to spend six years developing Maternal and Child Health epidemiology in the Georgia Health Department.
After 30 years with CDC working in 30+ countries and with many State Health Departments, I retired from CDC in 1999—went with my brother briefly to Antarctica—and then joined RSPH, the first two years in Epidemiology and now in Global Health.
March 1978 - PHS Commendation Medal in recognition of sustained high quality work performance in the development of the international family planning evaluation assistance programs.
September 1981 - CDC Letter of Commendation for contribution to the U.S.-Mexico Border Survey conducted during the period June-Sept 1979 in 51 selected counties in four border states of Texas, NM, AZ, and CA, of maternal and child health planning on the U.S. side of the border.
Oct 1990 - Georgia March of Dimes for producing Infant Health in Georgia: Progress during the 1980s--a collaborative report by Georgia March of Dimes, Georgia Department of Human Resources, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Nov 1990 - CDC Commendation Medal for outstanding work and development of activities to reduce infant mortality and to assist states in conducting analytic projects, and to evaluate their infant mortality problems.
1992 - CDC Meritorious Service Medal for sustained significant contributions to the development of activities to prevent and control morbidity and mortality
among infants and women of reproductive age.
1993 - Recipient, Carl Schultz (Population and Reproductive Health) Award, APHA
1996 - Georgia March of Dimes -
For contributions to statewide prevalence study of perinatal exposure to cocaine-- a collaborative study by Georgia March of Dimes, Georgia Department of Human Resources, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1999 - MCH Coalition Award for Lifetime Achievement in MCH epidemiology
2001-2002 Rollins School of Public Health, Student Government ‘Professor of the Year’
2004- Ipas In Appreciation “for your distinguished career in public service, research, teaching, and advocacy; for your visionary leadership in advancing maternal and child health, family planning, and women’s access to safe abortion care in the United States and globally; for your mentorship and support of students and young professionals in reproductive health; for your outstanding scholarly contributions over three decades in contraception, abortion, postabortion care and the epidemiology of maternal and child health. We do hereby honor and thank you for your unwavering support for women’s reproductive health and rights around the world.”
May 2009-The Thomas F. Sellers, Jr. Award "For exemplifying the ideals of public health and serving as a role model and mentor to his colleagues. This award is given to an individual who, like the man for whom it is named, represents the best qualities of collegiality."
May 2012 Emory Williams Distinguished Teaching Award, Emory University