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Environmental Factor, November 2014

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Research!America honors Olden for advocacy

By Eddy Ball

Ken Olden

Olden during his tenure as founding dean of the CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College (Photo courtesy of CUNY)

Research!America - An Alliance for Discoveries In Health

Next spring, NIEHS and National Toxicology Program (NTP) Director Emeritus Kenneth Olden, Ph.D., will be one of five people honored with a 2015 Research!America Advocacy Award. The Society for Neuroscience, which has a number of members who are NIEHS and NTP scientists, will also be recognized at the organization’s 19th annual Advocacy Awards Dinner March 11, 2015 in Washington, D.C.

Olden will be in good company when he accepts the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Award for Sustained National Leadership. “The [awards] dinner is a high-level gathering of research leaders, attended by the nation's most influential and esteemed individuals in science, health and medical research, advocacy, business, the media, and government,” the Research!America website explains.

Along with Olden, 2015 Advocacy Awards go to ABC's "Good Morning America" anchor Robin Roberts; Michael Milken, founder of the Milken Institute and FasterCures; and David Van Andel, chairman and CEO, and George Vande Woude, Ph.D., founding research director of the Van Andel Institute.

Past winners include two Nobel laureates; actors Michael Fox and Glenn Close; former U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher, M.D., Ph.D.; public broadcasting stars Dianne Rehm and Charlie Rose; high profile politicians; and well-known nonprofits and research institutes.

From the bench to the ranks of leadership

Trained as a cancer biologist, Olden was the second longest serving director in the history of NIEHS and NTP, from his appointment in 1991 to his return to full-time research at NIEHS in 2005. His tenure transformed the institute, as he championed environmental justice and community engagement. Because of his initiatives during that time and his work since, Research!America notes, “He is considered to be the strongest champion of community-based participatory research in the U.S.”

In 2008, The City University of New York (CUNY) selected him to be founding dean of the School of Public Health at Hunter College. Three years later, with his mission accomplished, Olden accepted the appointment to his current position as director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency National Center for Environmental Assessment.

Although he now works in the Washington area, Olden has maintained his ties with scientists in the North Carolina Triangle area and the many friends he made during his tenure at NIEHS. Since leaving, he has often shared the podium with NIEHS and NTP Director Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., and other high-profile scientists from the institute.

Olden has been honored numerous times with prestigious awards, appointments, and honorary degrees, for his decades of service toward improving public health nationally and globally.

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