The Vernon Houk Award
The Vernon Houk Award recognizes unsurpassed leadership in preventing lead poisoning by the Alliance to End Childhood Lead Poisoning and the Society for Occupational and Environmental Health. This award honors Vernon Houk, MD who passed away in September 1994. Dr. Houk was an Assistant Surgeon General for the U.S. Public Health Service and a former Director of the national center for Environmental Heath at the centers for Disease Control. Vernon Houk played a vital leadership role in advancing national policy to prevent childhood lead poisoning. He consistently showed great courage as a public health official by forcing federal agencies to confront the reality of lead poisoning and take meaningful preventive efforts.
Dr. Houk was one of the first to recognize and act on the knowledge that lead-based paint in homes in now the leading cause of childhood lead poisoning in the U.S. His leadership at CDC resulting in the release of the Strategic Plan for the Elimination of Childhood Lead Poisoning, a highly visible policy document that contained a new public health emphasis on housing-based interventions to control lead poisoning. Under his leadership, CDC developed and released its 1990 Statement of the Prevention of Childhood Lead Poisoning that called for universal screening of young children for lead poisoning and effectively jump-started national awareness and action on this issue. His legacy at CDC includes a strong and effective Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Branch with vital components-initiated by Dr. Houk-that include grants to state and local health departments, a proficiency testing program for laboratories, and a budding national surveillance program.
1998 Recipient - Philip Landrigan, MD, MSc
1997 Recipient - Herbert Needleman, MD
1995 Recipient - Henry Falk, MD
1994 Recipient - Professor Wi YiQun