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The 2017 APHA Conference and Bloomberg Distinguished Professor Lisa Cooper’s Social Justice Award

“Climate Changes Health”

Public health practitioners face a crush of new challenges that threaten basic health as a result of climate change.

This reflects the timely theme of the 2017 American Public Health Association conference: “Creating the Healthiest Nation: Climate Changes Health.”

JHSPH affiliates will join thousands of public health professionals on November 4 in Atlanta, Ga. where the four-day conference will highlight big picture ideas to ensure a nation where “everyone has the opportunity to prepare for, protect their families from, and rebuild after a climate event.”

See all JHSPH presenters 

Lisa Cooper, APHA awardee 2017. Credit: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Credit: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

APHA is also a time to recognize the achievements of standout public health practitioners across the nation. Notable among JHSPH awardees this year is Bloomberg Distinguished Professor Lisa Cooper, MD, MPH ’93. Cooper, who directs the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Equity, will be honored at APHA with the Helen Rodriguez-Trìas Social Justice Award for her dedication to improving the health of underserved communities, addressing issues such as health disparities, workforce diversity and cultural competency.

The award is named for Helen Rodriguez-Trìas, a New York pediatrician from an underserved community in Puerto Rico. Liberian-born Cooper recalls seeing similar health disparities in her own childhood community. “I witnessed the impact of social deprivation on the health of many of my family members and fellow citizens, and developed my passion for a career in medicine and public health,” she says. “Like Dr. Rodriguez-Trìas, I have strong interests in bridging knowledge and communication gaps between health systems and communities, and a desire to use science to transform practice and policies leading to health equity in disadvantaged communities.”

The theme of the conference resonates with Cooper who sees parallels between health disparities and the outsize burden climate change has on the lives of those in marginalized communities:

“Have you ever heard the statement, ‘When America catches a cold, African-Americans (and poor Americans) get pneumonia?’ This is evidenced by how persons living in poverty and ethnic minorities have borne the brunt of each recent natural disaster related to climate change—for example, by not having resources that allow them to evacuate in a safe and timely manner, living in homes that are more easily destroyed than the homes of persons with greater financial resources, and being unable to obtain basic resources such as food, water, and medicines.”

Cooper stresses that protecting the most vulnerable persons in society from climate change should be a top priority for the public health community, both nationally and globally.

Cooper will be honored at the APHA awards ceremony on Tuesday, November 7.

DON’T FORGET: Join us at the annual APHA reception at Ventanas, Atlanta’s beautiful rooftop venue! Meet the School's new dean, Ellen J. MacKenzie, PhD ’79, MSc ’75, and connect with alumni and friends of the School from around the world.

APHA Alumni Event - Atlanta