Posted on October 26, 2019

Dr. Richard Lemen

On October 26, the Collegium Ramazzini and the City of Carpi in Italy presented the 2019 Ramazzini Award to Richard Lemen, PhD, MSPH, former deputy Director of the US National Institute of Occupational Safety & Health, in recognition of Dr. Lemen’s lifetime of service in protecting the health and improving the working conditions of women and men in countries around the world.  

The Ramazzini Award is bestowed on “scientists deemed by the Collegium to have made outstanding contributions to furthering the aims of Bernardino Ramazzini in safeguarding public health” by the Mr. Alberto Bellelli, Mayor of Carpi during the annual Ramazzini Days. Collegium Ramazzini is an international leader in occupational and environmental health research and advocacy. Co-founded by Dr. Irving Selikoff in 1982, the academy has a strong focus on asbestos awareness and prevention.

Dr. Lemen is a retired Assistant Surgeon General of the United States and also served as the Acting Director and Deputy Director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health before his retirement. He has been a practicing epidemiologist for more than forty years, and has taught graduate level courses on environmental and occupational health issues, including asbestos, at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University.  Dr. Lemen was also appointed to the Presidential Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health by President Barack Obama in 2009 and served until 2018. He has also testified on behalf of asbestos victims. Dr. Lemen is also a world-renowned author, speaker, and lecturer on this topic. 

Mr. Alberto Bellelli, Mayor of Carpi, Center Dr. Richard Lemen, right Dr. Phil Landrigan.

Dr. Lemen shared, “I am extremely grateful to the Collegium Ramazzini for bestowing this honor upon me.  It has been my life’s goal to work for the betterment of workers throughout the World in assuring they work in healthy and safe workplaces and that they do not take any hazards from work home to their loved ones.”     

Working with Dr. Lemen has been an honor and privilege. His mentorship and unwavering dedication have been invaluable to me and ADAO, but I know I am not alone.  Below are just a few quotes about Dr. Lemen from his colleagues.

“In his more than 40 years on the front lines of public health,  Dr. Lemen conducted some of the first epidemiological studies of workers exposed to asbestos and beryllium in the United States, and he visited some of the most heavily contaminated industrial facilities in North America.  He has led investigations of workers exposed to bischloromethyl ether, benzidene-based dyes, styrene and butadiene. His work has provided the foundation for exposure standards that have saved the lives of thousands of working men and women.  In his work, Dr. Lemen has combined high scientific achievement with tireless public service and evidence-based advocacy. He is a hero of public health.” Philip J. Landrigan, MD, MSc, FAAP

“To say that Dr. Lemen is deserving of this lofty award is an understatement. Dr. Lemen has battled on the front lines for workers around the world for his entire career – the front lines of research, government service, mentorship and education, and advocacy, including in courts of law. It has been my great pleasure and honor to know and to work with him.” L. Christine Oliver, MD, MPH, MS

“I am delighted that Dr. Richard Lemen is so fittingly being honored with this year’s Ramazzini  Award recognizing all he has done for decades to protect the health and well- being of workers around the world.” Arthur L.Frank MD, PhD    

“Over the course of decades, Dr. Richard Lemen played a central role in the efforts of the US government and the public health community to protect the health of workers in the US and around the globe.  This award is well-deserved” David Michaels, PhD, MPH

“Dr. Lemen is a renowned public health worker who has contributed much to our knowledge and, time and again, helped strengthen US government and international publications on the dangers of asbestos.” Barry Castleman, ScD

“In accepting this award in Carpi, Dick showed characteristic humility, gratitude, and his lifelong dedication to pursuing justice for workers. Bravo, Dr. Lemen.” Steven Markowitz, MD, DrPH

Please join me in congratulating Dr. Lemen on this distinguished recognition!


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