Dr. Paul Farmer Receives CDC Foundation Hero Award

ATLANTA – Paul Farmer, M.D., Ph.D., founding director of Partners In Health, will receive the 2008 CDC Foundation Hero Award at an event at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday, October 7, 2008. The CDC Foundation is honoring Farmer for his cutting-edge research in global health equity and his extensive field work demonstrating that, through strategic partnerships, modern medical science and care can be provided successfully to impoverished communities in both industrialized and developing nations.

Partners In Health (PIH), founded by Farmer and his colleagues in 1987, is an international charity organization that provides direct health care services and undertakes research and advocacy activities on behalf of those who are sick and living in poverty. PIH developed a model of community-based care that was initially proven successful fighting multidrug-resistant tuberculosis in Peru and AIDS in Haiti. PIH now has expanded use of the community-based model to address the HIV pandemic in Africa, and many other countries and organizations have incorporated elements of the PIH approach to address health threats around the world.

Farmer was nominated for the award by Ann Veneman, executive director of UNICEF, and was selected to receive the award by a panel of public health experts and the CDC Foundation board of directors. Says Veneman, "Paul Farmer has been at the cutting edge of public health debate and practice, demonstrating that 'first world' health care can be delivered cost-effectively in extremely poor conditions where the burden of disease is greatest and where others see only obstacles and barriers."

In addition to his work with PIH, Farmer is the Maude and Lillian Presley Professor of Medical Anthropology in the Department of Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School and an attending physician in infectious diseases and associate chief of the Division of Social Medicine and Health Inequalities at Brigham and Women's Hospital. He has written extensively about health and human rights and about the role of social inequalities in determining the distribution and outcomes of infectious diseases and is the subject of Pulitzer Prizewinner Tracy Kidder's Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World.

"Dr. Farmer's work to fight disease and poverty shines a light on the potential for incredibly powerful results when individuals and organizations work together toward a common health goal," says Charles Stokes, president and CEO of the CDC Foundation. "As an organization whose mission is to forge effective partnerships between CDC and others to improve health, the CDC Foundation is honored to recognize Dr. Farmer's achievements with the CDC Foundation Hero Award."

First presented in 2005, the CDC Foundation Hero Award recognizes an individual who has made a significant contribution to improving the public's health through exemplary work in advancing CDC's mission of promoting health and quality of life by preventing and controlling disease, injury and disability. Previous recipients include:

  • 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 International Institute for Society and Health and MRC Research Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health
  • Raymond J. Baxter, Ph.D., senior vice president for community benefit for Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals
  • The Honorable Rudy Giuliani, 107th Mayor of New York City.


Established by Congress, the CDC Foundation helps CDC do more, faster, by forging effective partnerships between CDC and corporations, foundations, organizations and individuals to fight threats to health and safety. The Foundation currently manages approximately 200 programs in the United States and in countries around the world. Each of our programs involves a talented team of experts at CDC and at least one outside funding partner.