Fries Prize for Improving Health Recipients

2023 – Katalin Karikó, PhD – For persevering through years of challenges to pioneer work in advancing the mRNA platform, which discovery has changed the vaccine field by offering a very potent and safe approach to constructing, testing and scaling up new vaccines to protect the public against emerging infections. View Announcement, View Video

2023 – Anne Schuchat, MD (RADM, USPHS, RET) – For turning science into impact by preventing infant deaths due to Group B Streptococcal (GBS) disease and saving millions of lives through extraordinary public health leadership. View Announcement, View Video

2022 – Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, Big Cities Health Coalition and the National Association of County and City Health Officials – For protecting the health of, preventing serious illness and death in, and saving the lives of millions of Americans during the unprecedented public health crisis of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. View Announcement

2021 – David Satcher, MD, PhD – For his outstanding achievements and lifetime commitment to eliminating health disparities and championing health equity for all. View Announcement

2020 – Mona Hanna-Attisha, MD, MPH, FAAP – For exposing the Flint, MI, water crisis, motivating national changes in community water management and reducing racial and ethnic disparities in child health. View Announcement

2019 – Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) – For its lifesaving impact on the health of people across the world. View Announcement

2018 – J. Michael McGinnis, MD, MA, MPP – For fundamentally transforming our nation’s understanding about how to improve health by re-conceptualizing the nation’s perspective on its leading health threats through the publication “The Actual Causes of Death in the United States,” and establishing the Healthy People process of national goals and objectives to target action. View Announcement

2017 – Lex Frieden, MA, LLD – For being an architect of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and a catalyst in the worldwide disability rights and independent living movements. View Announcement

2016 – Jonathan M. Samet, MD, MS – For his pioneering research and decades of advocacy on the negative impacts of air pollution on health. View Announcement

2015 – Harvey Alter, MD, MACP – For his life-saving research and leadership in translating science into practice, which has prevented millions of new infections and cases of disease and death from Hepatitis B virus (HBV), Hepatitis C virus (HCV) and HIV infections. View Announcement

2014 – Mathuram Santosham, MD, MPH – For his research and contribution in fighting the deadly Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) disease. View Announcement

2013 – Charles H., Hennekens, MD, DrPH – For seminal research discoveries on aspirin, which have avoided millions of first myocardial infarctions and more than one million premature deaths worldwide. View Announcement

2012 – Jonathan E. Fielding, MD, MPH, MBA – For pioneering work in identifying and applying effective worksite and public prevention programs and policies that have improved health for millions of Americans.

2011 – Richard Alan Cash, MD, MPH – For leadership in the development and dissemination of Oral Rehydration Therapy (ORT), a practical treatment for cholera and other diarrheal disease that has saved the lives of at least 60 million children worldwide.

2010 – Walter R. Dowdle, PhD – For extraordinary and continuing leadership and scientific achievement to help prevent millions of cases of disease and death from HIV/AIDS, influenza, and polio.

2009 – Donald M. Berwick, MD, KBE – For his creative, focused, tireless and successful efforts to systematically reduce medical errors and to improve the quality of medical care.

2008 – Alfred Sommer, MD, MHS – For his landmark research on mortality effects in children from Vitamin A deficiency and the extremely cost-effective use of Vitamin A in saving the lives of more than 300,000 children each year.

2007 – Donald R. Hopkins, MD, MPH – For his initiation of and sustained leadership in the global campaign to eradicate Guinea worm disease, "a forgotten disease of forgotten people."

2006 – William T. Sergeant – For his inspirational and extraordinary contributions to a healthy world by leading Rotary International global efforts to eradicate polio.

2005 – John W. Farquhar, MD – For pioneering ideas, research, and advocacy, which led to the recognition of community-wide interventions to improve health.

2004 – Faye Wattleton, RN – For courageous and effective leadership in the campaign to maintain reproductive rights and improve women's health in the United States and abroad.

2003 – P. Roy Vagelos, MD – For his visionary leadership while CEO of Merck and Co., and for his role in the prevention of river blindness with the donation of Mectizan to high prevalence countries in Africa and South America.

2002 – Millie I. Webb – For leading the grass roots campaign while President of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which resulted in setting the national standard for impaired driving at .08 blood alcohol content.

2001 – Baruch S. Blumberg, MD, PhD – For developing the hepatitis B vaccine and for his exemplary efforts throughout the world to greatly reduce liver disease and the resulting liver cancer.

2000 – Judith Mackay, MD, FRCP – For her innovative, persistent and strikingly successful tobacco control initiatives in Asia.

1999 – George D. Lundberg, MD – For his outstanding editorial championship of public health.

1998 – William B. Kannel, MD, MPH – For establishing the concept that clinically definable "risk factors" promote cardiovascular disease, and for his leadership of the Framingham Heart Study.

1997 – Michael Pertschuk, JD – For using public office to advance the public health, for setting the gold standard for health advocacy from the private sector, and for developing persistent and powerful strategies toward tobacco control.

1996 – James P. Comer, MD, MPH – For developing, disseminating and evaluating the School Development Program, which has improved the mental and physical health of thousands of school children.

1995 – Lester Breslow, MD, MPH – For recognizing the dominant effects of chronic illnesses upon the national morbidity, for identification of lifestyle risk factors, and for promotion of social and personal actions to reduce the morbid effects of illness.

1994 – C. Everett Koop, MD – For courageous, imaginative, sustained, and uniquely effective advocacy toward the reduction of cigarette smoking, the reduction of domestic violence, prevention of AIDS, and the improved health of our children.

1993 – Kenneth H. Cooper, MD, MPH – For fathering the concept of aerobic exercise, and for his leadership in promoting exercise as a lifelong habit for millions of Americans.

1992 – William H. Foege, MD, MPH – For his visionary leadership in the world-wide eradication of smallpox, vaccination of America's children, and the crusades against tobacco use and unnecessary injuries.


About the Awards | Fries Prize | Elizabeth Fries Award | Nominations | Selection Jury

About the Award

The late Dr. James F. Fries, formerly professor emeritus of medicine at Stanford University, came up with the idea for the Fries Prize for Improving Health in a 1987 ascent of Nepal’s Makalu—one of the world’s highest peaks—when his party became trapped in a severe snowstorm and was ultimately unable to scale the mountain. Following that experience, Dr. Fries returned to sea level and set about establishing a foundation to support a Nobel-like prize for health that now annually awards a $60,000 prize to an individual judged by an expert panel to have done the greatest good for the greatest number in the field of health. Sarah Fries remained active in the Fries Prize awards until her death in May 2017, and Jim Fries remained active in the awards until his death in November 2021.

The CDC Foundation is honored to partner with the James F. and Sarah T. Fries Foundation, which established and funds the award. As of 2016, the CDC Foundation manages and administers the Fries Foundation’s public health award programs, which include the Fries Prize for Improving Health and the Elizabeth Fries Health Education Award.