Department of Environmental Health Sciences Chair & IoES Professor Richard Jackson wins prestigious award

Teresa Heinz and the Heinz Family Foundation announced the winners of the awards, honoring five outstanding individuals who have made significant contributions in five areas: Arts and Humanities; Environment; Human Condition; Public Policy; and Technology, the Economy and Employment. Each honoree will receive an unrestricted cash prize of $250,000.

“The spirit of the Heinz Awards has never felt more relevant or more important than it does right now. At a time when so much of our public discourse is about limits and the barriers to action, and when so many of our public institutions seem bogged down by vitriol and ideology, our five recipients stand as a testament to the American spirit of possibility and to the enduring power of individuals to help solve even our most seemingly intractable problems,” Teresa Heinz, chairman of the Heinz Family Foundation, said today. “While others focus on what we can no longer do, these five focus on what we can do and have redefined the limits of possibility in spheres ranging from music to medicine, science, the environment and education. They embody the best in all of us and the promise for a brighter future.”

Richard J. Jackson, a pediatrician and public health physician, has sparked a national conversation about the relationship between the physical design of communities and rising health risks, such as respiratory ailments and obesity. His research into this connection and willingness to speak out about his findings are fueled by a passion to safeguard the health of children, who he believes are most at risk from poorly designed built environments. Dr. Jackson’s warnings, once considered controversial, have been borne out repeatedly by studies documenting airborne particulate levels, a reduction in physical fitness of children and rising rates of obesity and diabetes. He has become a leading voice for reinserting health considerations into decisions about urban, suburban and transportation design programs, rallying mayors, planners, architects and the public to re-envision communities that are good for people and the planet. Dr. Jackson hosts the four-part public television series, Designing Healthy Communities, that is currently being broadcast nationally. His earlier work in California and at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has included groundbreaking initiatives to monitor agricultural chemical exposures and other environmental contaminants in the American public.

The awards program was established by Teresa Heinz in 1993 to honor the memory of her late husband, U.S. Senator John Heinz. The belief in the power of the individual to improve the lives of others is a quality exemplified by John Heinz, and an attribute the awards program was created to honor. “The most important investments – and the most profitable,” he once said, “are investments in people.”