Sir Michael Marmot Receives CDC Foundation Hero Award

Sir Michael Marmot, M.B.B.S., M.P.H., Ph.D., F.R.C.P., F.F.P.H.M., FMedSci, director of the University College London (UCL) International Institute for Society and Health and MRC research professor of epidemiology and public health, will receive the 2007 CDC Foundation Hero Award at an event at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday, September 17. The CDC Foundation is honoring Marmot for his groundbreaking work examining how socioeconomic status affects health over a lifetime.

Considered by some as the father of “social epidemiology,” Marmot has been at the forefront of research into health disparities for the past 30 years. His work demonstrates that health disparities are not just a question of rich versus poor or privilege versus deprivation. Marmot describes a “social gradient,” in which health and life expectancy correlate to an individual’s socioeconomic position, with those in the upper class experiencing the lowest rates of disease, those in the middle gradually experiencing higher rates, and the poor suffering from the highest rates of disease and the lowest life expectancy.

“Sir Michael’s work has great implications for CDC, other public health researchers, employers and policy makers,” says Charles Stokes, president and CEO of the CDC Foundation. “All societies are founded on hierarchies of some kind, but Sir Michael argues that we have opportunities to make changes within these hierarchies to help reduce disparities and improve health. This is important work that is informing new strategies for overall population health protection and individual preventive medicine. We are honored to recognize Sir Michael Marmot’s achievements with the CDC Foundation Hero Award.”

Marmot says, “The social gradient in health is pervasive. It is seen in many countries. But the size of health inequalities varies. Understanding why position on the social hierarchy is related to health gives us the possibility to reduce health inequalities. The challenge is to implement our research findings on how the circumstances in which people live, work, grow and age influence their health. CDC, par excellence, is an organization that uses best research to influence the public’s health. Taking action on social determinants of health could be a most important part of its mission.”

Marmot is engaged in several international research efforts on the social determinants of health. In 2000, he was knighted by Her Majesty The Queen for services to epidemiology and understanding health inequalities. Internationally acclaimed, Marmot is the chair of the Commission on Social Determinants of Health ( set up by the World Health Organization in 2005. He is the author of Status Syndrome, a book that examines how social standing directly affects health and life expectancy.

First presented in 2005, the CDC Foundation Hero Award recognizes an individual or organization that has made a significant contribution to improving the public’s health through exemplary work in advancing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) mission of disease prevention and health promotion. Previous recipients include Raymond J. Baxter, Ph.D., Senior Vice President for Community Benefit for Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and The Honorable Rudy Giuliani, 107th Mayor of New York City.