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UCLA Fielding School of Public Health professor honored by National Academy of Medicine

Dr. Richard Jackson recognized for outstanding service to health and medicine

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

A professor emeritus at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health has been honored with one of the National Academy of Medicine’s highest awards for his work as a leader in environmental health.

Dr. Richard Jackson, professor emeritus of environmental health sciences, was recognized with the David Rall Medal, Oct. 16 in Washington, D.C. at the National Academy’s annual meeting. The Rall Medal, named after the late Dr. David Rall, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) from 1971-90, is given to a National Academy of Medicine (NAM) member who has demonstrated distinguished leadership in multiple fields.

“Year after year, the generous service and leadership of these devoted members has been critical to advancing the work of the NAM and the National Academies in addressing complex challenges in health and medicine,” said Dr. Victor J. Dzau, NAM president. “I am thrilled to honor these remarkable members for their endless dedication to improving health and furthering science.”

A national leader in environmental health, Jackson has held leadership roles in state and federal public health throughout his career, featuring innovative and far-reaching contributions as well as prominent academic roles.  He chaired the National Academies committee that produced the landmark 2011 report Improving Health in the United States: The Role of Health Impact Assessment. Jackson, who worked with Rall during Jackson’s service as director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Environmental Health, said Rall is a personal hero.

“David knew that people cannot be healthy in unhealthy environments. Thanks to his hard work, particularly when he served as NIEHS director, today Americans have much lower levels of harmful agents in their bodies, toxicants like lead and mercury, as well as many carcinogens,” Jackson said. “What would David Rall tell us as we confront today’s health challenges? … I think Dr. Rall would be devoting his energies to addressing climate change, which makes the atmosphere hotter, water more scarce, and storms more violent.”

A pediatrician, Jackson has served in many leadership positions with the California Health Department, including the highest as the state health officer. Along with teaching at UCLA, he is a faculty affiliate with both the UCLA Center for Healthy Climate Solutions and the Center for Occupational & Environmental Health at the university.

The UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, founded in 1961, is dedicated to enhancing the public's health by conducting innovative research, training future leaders and health professionals from diverse backgrounds, translating research into policy and practice, and serving our local communities and the communities of the nation and the world. The school has 761 students from 26 nations engaged in carrying out the vision of building healthy futures in greater Los Angeles, California, the nation and the world.