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September 24, 2011

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Dean Klag, Prof. Black, Melinda Gates, and JHU President Ronald J. Daniels

Johns Hopkins University Honors Bill and Melinda Gates with First Global Health Leadership Award

At Ceremony, Department of International Health, in 50th Year, Announces New Center to Save Lives of Mothers and Newborns

Citing the “visionary leadership” of Bill and Melinda Gates for helping save the lives of millions of people in the developing world, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Department of International Health today named the two philanthropists as recipients of its first annual Global Health Leadership Award. Melinda Gates accepted the award on behalf of the couple at a ceremony at the Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The inaugural award marked the 50th anniversary of the Department of International Health, which, over the years, has worked closely with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation around issues of global health. The Department is the largest in the world, and has fostered profound global health improvements through development and dissemination of vaccines, diarrhea and pneumonia research, HIV/AIDS prevention, nutrition research, education, and capacity-building for the poorest and most underserved populations on Earth. 

“It has been a privilege to work with Johns Hopkins over the past decade, and Bill and I are honored to receive this award from such a respected partner of the foundation,” said Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “Johns Hopkins has been a leader in driving incredible progress in women’s and children’s health. Thanks to their innovative approach and perseverance, millions of lives around the world have been saved.”

At the ceremony, the Department also announced that it was launching the International Center for Maternal and Newborn Health, which will comprehensively address the problem in the developing world of mothers dying during in childbirth and newborns dying in the first days of life.  Every year 3.7 million deaths occur in the first month of life, and an estimated 340,000 women die during childbirth, almost all of the deaths in the developing world.

Finding new ways to save the lives of mothers and newborns has been one of the major goals of both Bill and Melinda Gates, said Robert Black, MD, MPH, the Chairman of the Department, who presented the award to Melinda Gates. Black said that no one has done more than Bill and Melinda Gates in revolutionizing global philanthropy to find solutions to the most pressing global health issues of the time.

“They have set in motion revolutionary breakthroughs in scientific research that has saved the lives of people around the world,” Black said. “Their visionary leadership has galvanized world attention to the great untapped potential to find simple, inexpensive, mass-produced solutions to diseases and conditions that plague hundreds of millions of people in the developing world.”

Michael J. Klag, MD, MPH, Dean of the Bloomberg School of Public Health, said that the Gateses have “driven home with clarity that there is a moral imperative to relieve human suffering and improve the human condition. Through their foundation, they have mobilized armies of scientists, government leaders, lay health workers, farmers, teachers and students across the planet to reach for goals that once were thought impossible.“

Media contact: Tim Parsons, director of Public Affairs, at 410-955-7619 or  tmparson@jhsph.edu.