Last chance to save with early registration for APHA 2024! Join us in Minneapolis ×

APHA announces 2022 awards for excellence in public health

Date: Oct 06 2022

Contact: Media Relations

Every year, the American Public Health Association honors excellence in public health leadership and innovation, from state and local health officials to those speaking up for public health from the halls of Congress.

This year’s awards will be presented Tuesday, Nov. 8 at 12 p.m. during APHA’s 2022 Annual Meeting and Expo, which officially kicks off Nov. 6.

“The commitment and accomplishments of these outstanding public health leaders is inspiring," said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, executive director of APHA. "Their contributions, and those of countless others, have helped strengthen the field and build a healthier nation as we continue to face serious public health challenges."

This year’s honorees include:

Wafaa El-Sadr, MD, MPH, MPA, director of ICAP at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, will receive APHA’s Sedgwick Memorial Medal for Distinguished Service in Public Health for her groundbreaking work in global HIV research, treatment and care. Through ICAP, El-Sadr partnered with global health leaders, innovators and researchers to increase access to care and prevent the occurrence of diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV, with 2.5 million people getting lifesaving HIV treatment and 43 million people receiving HIV testing.

Prabhat Jha, MD, DPhil, FRSC, professor of Global Health at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health, will receive the APHA Award for Excellence for his groundbreaking work in expanding global death reporting in low- and middle-income countries. Jha is known for leading the Million Death Study which surveyed 23 million people in India about the causes of death of their close contacts and found tobacco use as a leading cause of death. The new data spawned tobacco control policies that saved millions of lives and was instrumental in the creation of the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., will receive the 2022 Distinguished Public Health Legislator of the Year Award for his continued push for legislation that improves the health and well-being of all Americans. In addition to his ongoing effort to pass laws to reduce gun violence and increase access to reproductive health, Schumer was instrumental in the recent passage of the Inflation Reduction Act to help reduce the costs of medications for people on Medicare and lower the costs of health insurance.

Sara Rosenbaum, JD, founding chair of the Milken Institute School of Public Health’s Department of Health Policy at George Washington University, will receive the 2022 APHA Executive Director Citation for her work in elevating the voice of APHA and public health experts during public health-related federal court cases. Rosenbaum helped inject the voices of public health academia into court cases involving issues such as reproductive rights and the Affordable Care Act. She was also a founding commissioner and former chair of the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission and served on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice and CDC’s Advisory Committee to the Director.

Rear Admiral Denise Hinton, MS, RN, will receive the 2022 APHA Presidential Citation for her public health service as the deputy surgeon general and her past leadership roles in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Today, Hinton advises U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on evolving national public health data and the use of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. After working for the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, she became a chief scientist where she tackled issues such as COVID-19 response and One Health during her oversight of the FDA’s national and global health security, counterterrorism and emerging threat portfolios.

Sacoby Wilson, PhD, MS, professor of applied environmental health with the School of Public Health at the University of Maryland, College Park and former Environment Section chair, will receive the David P. Rall Award for Advocacy in Public Health for his community-based environmental justice work. As director of the Center for Community Engagement, Environmental Justice and Health (CEEJH), Wilson has helped marginalized communities ravaged by industrial pollution in Washington, D.C., South Baltimore, other parts of the Mid-Atlantic, the Southeast, and the Deep South fight for cleaner air and water.

Flavio Marsiglia, PhD, MSW, distinguished foundation professor of Diversity and Health and director of the Global Center for Applied Health Research at Arizona State University, will receive the Helen Rodriguez-Trias Social Justice Award for his public health prevention work helping marginalized communities near the U.S.-Mexico border. Marsiglia’s work includes the founding of the Southwest Interdisciplinary Research Center to address health disparities in underserved communities and the creation of a substance use prevention initiative targeted at Hispanic youth, which was later adapted for Black and American Indian children in the Southwest.

William Mercer, MD, former health officer of the Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department, will receive the Milton and Ruth Roemer Prize for Creative Local Public Health Work for his efforts to reduce youth tobacco use and expand access to health care for West Virginia residents who are homeless. Mercer developed the Joe Too Cool to Smoke program for local schools, using the likeness of Snoopy from the Peanuts gang to teach Ohio Valley children about the dangers of tobacco use. He later founded Project Homeless Outreach Partnership Effort, or Project HOPE, which sends a mobile medical van to shelters and encampments to provide medical care and medicine to people who are homeless.

Arthur James, MD, FACOG, an adjunct professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, will receive the Martha May Eliot Award for his lifetime work in lowering Black infant mortality rates and bringing attention to racism’s effects on public health. James’ accomplishments include creating a "community-oriented obstetrical care" model to address the causes of infant mortality in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and reaching Healthy People 2010’s goal for reducing Black infant mortality in Kalamazoo from nearly 30 deaths to 10 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Mulugeta Gebregziabher, PhD, professor of biostatistics at the Medical University of South Carolina, will receive the Victor Sidel and Barry Levy Award for Peace for bringing global attention to the Ethiopian government's human rights violations against residents of the country's Tigray region. A native of the Tigray region, Gebregziabher has used published research, global symposiums and advocacy of world leaders to inform public health professionals, governments and academia about the violent attacks on Tigray’s innocent civilians, health care infrastructure and food security.

Jessica Williams, PhD, associate professor for Pennsylvania State University’s Department of Health Policy and Administration, will receive the Lyndon Haviland Public Health Mentoring Award for her work in guiding the development of students and young professionals in APHA’s Medical Care Section. Williams helped match students and early-career professionals with mentors who trained them on peer reviewing publications and helped found the Barbara Starfield Medical Care Scholar program to immerse young professionals in the Section’s advocacy and policy work through events such as APHA’s Annual Meeting and Expo.

Nathan Grubaugh, PhD, MS, associate professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health, will receive the 2022 Ayman El-Mohandes Young Professional Public Health Innovation Award for his breakthrough research in saliva-based COVID-19 testing. Grubaugh’s previous infectious disease research on the Zika virus contributed to the creation of saliva-based PCR-based testing for COVID-19 in collaboration with Research Scientist Dr. Anne Wyllie, which is being used across the country. This research informs local and state public health departments and elected officials about variants of concern.


The American Public Health Association champions the health of all people and all communities. We are the only organization that combines a 150-year perspective, a broad-based member community and the ability to influence federal policy to improve the public’s health. Learn more at