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Georgetown’s Lawrence Gostin honored for Lifetime Achievement in Public Health Law

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CHICAGO (Nov. 2, 2015) – Lawrence Gostin, JD, LLD (h.c.), Faculty Director of the O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown Law, was honored today for his "Lifetime Achievement in Public Health Law" by the American Public Health Association (APHA) Law Section. The award was presented in Chicago.

Gostin, who holds Georgetown University's highest academic rank of University Professor, is the founding O'Neill Chair in Global Health Law. He is also a professor of medicine at Georgetown's School of Medicine and professor of public health at Johns Hopkins University.

According to the APHA, "the award is given annually to an individual who, over the course of his or her career, has made significant contributions to the field of public health law."

"I'm truly humbled and honored for getting this award," Gostin said in his video acceptance speech. "I can hardly thank you enough."

Gostin acknowledged his friends and colleagues in the audience and confirmed the centrality of public health to his life's work.

"A decade or more ago when I started working in this field, the intersection between health and law was so very narrow," Gostin said. "There was very little discussion about the conditions in which people can be healthy, which is at the heart and soul of what you and I do."

Gostin pointed out that those in his field have brought health to questions of justice and equity, but acknowledged the uphill battle ahead specifically noting health challenges involving cigarettes and guns.

"Every major thing that we've done over the past century and on to the next century for the health and safety of the population are because of law," Gostin said.

Gostin, a lifetime member of the National Academy of Medicine, continues to lead major global health law reform initiatives. He co-chairs the Lancet-O'Neill Institute, Georgetown University Commission on Global Health and the Law. The commission aims to "make the case for the power of law to improve health while revealing current opportunities and challenges under the status quo."

Gostin also serves on two global commissions to report on the lessons learned from the 2014 West Africa Ebola epidemic: The Global Commission on a Global Health Risk Framework (National Academy of Sciences) and the Independent Panel on the Global Response to Ebola (Harvard University/London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine). He is special advisor to the United Nations High-Level Panel on Global Health Security.

"Larry Gostin helped establish the field of public health law and has been at its forefront for many decades. His career serves as an inspiration to the next generation of public health lawyers," said Lainie Rutkow, JD, PhD, MPH, chair of the APHA Law Section awards committee. Rutkow is associate professor in Health Policy and Management at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. "Larry's books — particularly Public Health Law: Power, Duty, Restraint — are required reading for anyone interested in the field. Through these works, and his hundreds of articles, Larry has made public health law accessible to academics and non-academics alike."

Gostin is director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Center on Public Health Law & Human Rights. The WHO Director-General has appointed Gostin to high-level positions, including the International Health Regulations (IHR) Roster of Experts and the Expert Advisory Panel on Mental Health. He served on the Director-General's Advisory Committee on Reforming the World Health Organization. Also, he is a member of the WHO/Global Fund Blue Ribbon Expert Panel to develop a global health equity framework. His proposal for a Framework Convention on Global Health – an international treaty ensuring the right to health – is now part of a global campaign, endorsed by the UN Secretary-General and Director of UNAIDS.

In the U.S., Gostin led the effort to draft the Model Emergency Health Powers Act to combat bioterrorism, and the "Turning Point" Model State Public Health Act.

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The O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University is the premier center for health law, scholarship, and policy. Its
mission is to contribute to a more powerful and deeper understanding of the multiple ways in which law can be used to improve the public's health, using objective evidence as a measure. The O'Neill Institute seeks to advance scholarship, science, research, and teaching that will encourage key decision-makers in the public, private, and civil society to employ the law as a positive tool for enabling more people in the United States and throughout the world to lead healthier lives.

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