American Medical Association Honors Dr. Guthrie S. Birkhead, for Outstanding Government Service

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 11, 2008) – Dr. Guthrie S. Birkhead, Deputy Commissioner of the Office of Public Health for the New York State Department of Health, has been named a recipient of the 2008 Dr. Nathan Davis Awards for Outstanding Government Service from the American Medical Association (AMA).

These national awards, named for the founder of the AMA, are presented to local, state and federal career and elected government officials upon the recommendation of an independent panel of judges and are awarded to officials in seven categories of public service. Dr. Birkhead's award is in the category of "Career Public Servant at the State or Local Level."

"We congratulate Dr. Birkhead for achieving national recognition with this honor," said state Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D. "His leadership and outstanding work in public health has long been known to his colleagues here and to others in the public health field."

Through these awards, established in 1989, the AMA encourages and stimulates public recognition for the highest standards of service throughout the levels of government.

"These awards are among the most prestigious forms of national recognition for outstanding public service in the advancement of public health," said AMA Executive Vice President and CEO Michael D. Maves, M.D. "Dr. Birkhead's selection from such an impressive group of nominees speaks volumes in recognizing the dedication and diligence of his public service."

Dr. Birkhead is the chief public health physician in the state Health Department. He oversees the activities of DOH's four public health centers and two public health offices: the AIDS Institute, Center for Community Health, Center for Environmental Health, Wadsworth Laboratories, Office of Public Health Practice and the Health Emergency Preparedness Program. In addition to his work at the Department, he is also an Associate Professor of Epidemiology at the School of Public Health, University at Albany and the founding Director of DOH's Preventive Medicine Residency Program.

"As a nationally known practitioner, scholar and educator, Dr. Birkhead is at the forefront of applying current scientific knowledge to complex public health problems, ranging from the HIV infection rate among newborns to the low measles vaccination rates among preschool-age children," said Ronald Brookmeyer, Chair of the Master of Public Health Program at Johns Hopkins University. "In addition to his own research and academic and clinical achievements, he has devoted himself to training the next generation of public health professionals."

Dr. Birkhead joined the state Health Department in 1988, and served most recently as Director of the AIDS Institute and Director of the Center for Community Health. He was appointed Deputy Commissioner in 2007. He is a Member and incoming Chair of the National Vaccine Advisory Committee of the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

Dr. Birkhead is a graduate of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Epidemic Intelligence Service and Preventive Medicine Residency programs, and is board-certified in internal medicine and preventive medicine. He holds a medical degree from Yale University School of Medicine and a master's degree in public health from the Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health.

The officers of the AMA will present the award to Dr. Birkhead at the AMA's annual recognition dinner on April 1, 2008 in Washington, D.C.