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Environmental Factor, December 2013

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NIEHS grantee/UCLA researcher honored by Collegium Ramazzini

By Eddy Ball

Froines, Landrigan and Hricko

Froines, center holding his award statue, was joined by Landrigan, left, and longtime USC colleague Andrea Hricko during the ceremony at the Hotel Touring Carpi. (Photo courtesy of Omar Gavioli)

Ramazzini statue

The statue honors Italian physician and University of Modena Professor Bernardino Ramazzini (1633-1714), who authored one of the seminal works of occupational medicine, De Morbis Artificum Diatriba (Diseases of Workers). (Photo courtesy of Omar Gavioli)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Professor Emeritus John Froines, Ph.D., received this year’s Ramazzini Award for his career advancing public health. Collegium Ramazzini President Philip Landrigan, M.D., presented the award and medal during a ceremony Oct. 26 in Carpi, Italy, as part of the annual Ramazzini Days.

Froines continues to serve as associate director of the NIEHS-funded Southern California Environmental Health Sciences Center, which is headquartered at the University of Southern California and directed by Frank Gilliland, M.D., Ph.D. He previously served as director of the Center for Occupational and Environmental Health at UCLA, the Southern California Particle Center, director of the UCLA-Fogarty Training Program in Occupational and Environmental Health, and, for nearly 30 years, on the California Scientific Review Panel on Toxic Air Contaminants before resigning in 2013 (see Sacramento Bee story on Froine’s accomplishments during his time on the panel).

In its announcement of the award, the Collegium Ramazzini pointed to Froines’ leadership in establishing exposure standards. “His outstanding career in occupational and environmental health research and advocacy [included] pioneering work to develop the federal occupational lead and cotton dust exposure standards in the United States and work in California that led to the recognition of diesel exhaust as a significant toxic air contaminant, preserving the health and the lives of millions.”

The award is presented annually to exceptional scientists from around the world. In 1989, then NIEHS Director David Rall, M.D., Ph.D., was honored for bringing advances in the knowledge of the relationship between the environment and human health, sharing the award with Japanese epidemiologist Takeshi Hirayama, M.D., a pioneer in establishing the link between secondhand smoke and lung cancer.

Public health and civil rights

According to a Pump Handle post by fellow public health scientist Celeste Monforton, Dr.PH, of George Washington University, a nomination letter lauded his tireless advocacy of public health and worker safety; his ground-breaking research in air pollution and hazardous chemicals; and his high-profile role in the 1960s anti-war and civil rights movements.

Among his many national public policy contributions was his service as deputy director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health during the presidency of Jimmy Carter and his collaboration with Occupational Safety and Health Administration chief Eula Bingham, Ph.D., herself a Ramazzini Award recipient in 2000.

“Research that threatens powerful economic interests—in Froines’ case, the trucking industry, lead producers, and pesticide manufacturers, to name a few—typically leads to attacks by those interests of the scientists,” Monforton wrote. “Dr. Froines experienced that firsthand over the decades of his career and still today.”

Froines’ most recent publication is “Risk and Decision: Evaluating Pesticide Approval in California,” a review of the registration process for methyl iodide. The 2013 report was published by the Sustainable Technology and Policy Program at UCLA, of which Froines is a co-director.

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