Berkeley awards gala to celebrate public-health heroes

UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health will honor health and human rights champion Mary Robinson and AIDS researcher and advocate Marcus Conant as public-health heroes at an awards gala Wednesday evening.

The annual Public Health Heroes ceremony, now in its 16th year, was established to recognize individuals and organizations for their significant contributions in promoting and protecting the health of population around the globe. To date, 54 individuals and organizations have received the Public Health Hero award.

At this year’s reception in San Francisco, former UCSF clinical professor Marcus Conant will be honored for his lifetime of pioneering HIV-AIDS research, treatment and advocacy efforts. Among the first physicians to identify AIDS in 1981, Conant helped to create one of the first and largest AIDS clinics in the United Sates.

A co-founder of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, Conant’s clinical practice and research work contributed to the development of some of today’s leading HIV medications.

The 2012 Public Health Heroes gala will also honor Mary Robinson for her advocacy efforts to promote women’s and children’s health, human rights and social justice. Robinson became the first female president of Ireland in 1990, before serving five years as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

President of the Mary Robinson Foundation—Climate Justice, the lawyer and former law professor, has used her influence as a world leader to advocate for immunization and maternal health programs around the globe and to press governments and corporations to adopt practices and policies that support environmental justice and ethical globalization.

Robinson, a former law professor and practicing lawyer, visited the Berkeley campus Tuesday to deliver the keynote address at the 2012 Global Health Symposium. The annual conference, which featured working sessions at Sutardja Dai Hall and Blum Hall covering issues in health research and access to food, water, energy, well-being and justice, was organized by the Berkeley Alliance for Global Health and the Center for Global Public Health.