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Crusader against substance abuse receives Lienhard Award

October 14, 2010
by Press Release
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Washington, DC — The Institute of Medicine presented the 2010 Gustav O. Lienhard Award to Joseph A. Califano, Jr., founder and chairman of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University and former U.S. secretary of health, education, and welfare. The award honors Califano for his leadership in catalyzing federal action to curb smoking and his broader efforts to reduce the toll of addiction and substance abuse, as well as for his contributions to improving public health in general.

As the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW)—the forerunner of today's departments of Health and Human Services and Education and the Social Security Administration—Califano spearheaded a slew of major health initiatives during the Carter administration. But Califano is best-known for spurring federal action to reduce and prevent tobacco use. While the links between smoking and disease had been laid out in a 1964 surgeon general's report, it was under Califano's leadership in the late 1970s that HEW began to proactively implement policies and steps to curb smoking, including encouraging physicians to counsel their patients to quit smoking and to give up the habit themselves, and making HEW a smoke-free workplace.

Califano's efforts to reduce the damage caused by addiction have continued with his leadership of CASA, which he founded in 1992 to promote awareness, treatment, and prevention of substance abuse of all kinds. The organization's research promotes understanding of substance abuse as a chronic disease, a critical step to gaining insurance coverage for treatment and overcoming its stigma. Based on CASA's research showing that provision of treatment in criminal justice and welfare systems reduces recidivism and saves money, Illinois introduced a comprehensive strategy in its prison system that has been credited with substantial reductions in prisoner relapses, and other states are considering similar reforms. Califano has authored several books on addiction, including his latest, How to Raise a Drug-Free Kid—The Straight Dope for Parents, and High Society—How Substance Abuse Ravages America and What to Do About It.

"Joseph Califano is a leader who gets things done, as evidenced by the many accomplishments that mark his career," said Institute of Medicine President Harvey V. Fineberg. "He is a compassionate individual who has worked hard to improve the health of disadvantaged groups, including poor children, people with mental illness, and individuals grappling with addiction. And he is a courageous and thoughtful man who tackled entrenched interests and championed significant changes in federal policy on tobacco use.".

Califano received a B.A. from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., and an LL.B. from Harvard Law School, where he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. He was elected to the Institute of Medicine in 1990.

Califano is the 25th recipient of the Lienhard Award, which includes a medal and $40,000 prize. The annual award recognizes outstanding national achievement in improving personal healthcare services in the United States. Nominees are eligible for consideration without regard to education or profession, and award recipients are selected by a committee of experts convened by the Institute of Medicine. This year's selection committee was chaired by Stephen M. Shortell, Blue Cross of California Distinguished Professor of Health Policy and Management and dean, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley. Califano will donate the prize money to CASA.