Ross C. Brownson has been installed as the Steven H. and Susan U. Lipstein Distinguished Professor at Washington University in St. Louis. A ceremony was held March 26 in the Emerson Auditorium in Knight Hall.
Brownson is an international leader in public health and the prevention of chronic disease – a “leader among leaders,” said Washington University Chancellor Mark Wrighton at the ceremony. His research focuses on the translation of evidence to public health practice and policy, focusing on environmental and policy determinants of physical activity and obesity. As the director of the Prevention Research Center at the Brown School, Brownson is keenly interested in building the next generation of practitioners and researchers through evidence-informed mentoring.
“You’ve made a huge difference in the field,” said Mary M. McKay, Neidorff Family and Centene Corporation Dean of the Brown School, in introducing Brownson.
Brownson is the first to hold the new professorship, which is endowed by BJC HealthCare and named in honor of Steven Lipstein, the former President and Chief Executive Officer of BJC; and his wife, Susan Lipstein, a pediatric physician assistant and former parent educator with Parents as Teachers.
“A professor in public health is a high calling,” Steven Lipstein said in remarks at the ceremony. He said the naming of Brownson to the professorship “warms our hearts and makes us smile.”
Brownson’s address, “Why is Public Health the One Good Infectious Disease?” outlined major advances in the field that are now the norm, like smoke-free workplaces, automobile safety features and clean water.
“When public health is at its best, it is invisible and so too often taken for granted,” he said. He said health disparities must be addressed by focusing on the social determinants of health, such as food insecurity and gun violence. He called the 17-year gap between research findings and putting them into practice “a long, leaky pipeline” and suggested that using a model based on the same factors that spread disease might be used to speed the dissemination of successful public-health strategies.
“Public health gets in your blood and you don’t want to be cured,” he concluded.
Brownson joined Washington University in 2008 and now serves on the faculty at the Brown School and at the Department of Surgery (Division of Public Health Sciences) within the School of Medicine. He directs the Prevention Research Center, which focuses on translational research aimed at reducing chronic disease risk and increasing health equity in a range of public health, community, and policy settings.
He is the author of 9 books and over 500 peer-reviewed articles. His books include Chronic Disease Epidemiology and Control, Applied Epidemiology, Evidence-Based Public Health, and Dissemination and Implementation Research in Health: Translating Science to Practice. He is an associate editor of the Annual Review of Public Health, and on the editorial board of six other journals.
Brownson’s many awards include the Abraham Lilienfeld Award for outstanding contributions in teaching and mentoring and the Award for Excellence (both from the American Public Health Association) and the Charles C. Shepard Science Award (the highest award for science, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Dr. Brownson has been repeatedly named by Thompson Reuters as one of the world’s most influential scientific minds.
This story was originally posted by the Brown School on March 29, 2019. For the complete story visit the Brown School News page.