Two infectious disease experts, William H. Foege and Anthony S. Fauci, received the Harvard School of Public Health’s most prestigious award in a ceremony on Monday.
The Julius B. Richmond Award recognizes doctors or other activists who have committed themselves to “high public health standards among vulnerable populations,” according to a statement from the school.
“[Foege and Fauci] have probably changed the world between them as much as anyone in public health,” said the school’s dean, Barry R. Bloom.
Foege is a former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and a founding member of the Task Force for Child Survival and Development, a nonprofit group based in Atlanta, Ga.
At the CDC, he devised the concept of “containment vaccination,” which contributed greatly to the eradication of smallpox.
Fauci serves as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. His work has focused primarily on the fight against HIV and AIDS.
Among other contributions, Fauci’s research proved that HIV is never latent in infected patients.
Former U.S. Surgeon General Julius B. Richmond, the emeritus professor of health policy at Harvard for whom the award is named, spoke at the presentation, along with both honorees.
Richmond emphasized the importance of public health practice in universities to teach “the application of our basic knowledge for the improvement of the health of our populations.”
Fauci discussed pandemic and seasonal flu, while Foege touched on a range of topics—including Richmond’s accomplishments and his own awe at how far the field of medicine has come in his lifetime.
“What a great era we’ve lived through,” Foege said. “Could we have imagined that we would have vaccines for so many diseases, including two now for cancer?”
The school’s selections of Fauci and Foege were intended to help commemorate Richmond’s recently passed 90th birthday by honoring doctors as committed to children’s health as Richmond is.
“These two guys have done an unbelievable amount for kids in the world,” said Bloom.