Swenberg, Brostrom selected for Greenberg and Barr awards

April 19, 2010
James A. Swenberg, DVM, PhD, and Richard Brostrom, MD, MSPH, have received two of UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health’s major awards for faculty and alumni.
Swenberg, recipient of the Bernard G. Greenberg Alumni Endowment Award for excellence in teaching, research and service, and Brostrom, selected for the Harriet Hylton Barr Distinguished Alumnus Award for achievements and contributions to the field of public health, were honored at the School’s annual Fred T. Foard Jr. Memorial Lecture on April 15 at the William and Ida Friday Center for Continuing Education.
The Greenberg Award
James A. Swenberg, DVM, PhD
Swenberg, Kenan Distinguished Professor of environmental sciences and engineering and director of the School’s Center for Environmental Health and Susceptibility, also has appointments in nutrition and pathology at UNC-Chapel Hill. He is a member of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and director of the Curriculum in Toxicology.
His research centers on mechanisms of carcinogenesis, with an emphasis on the role of DNA damage and repair. His work has been used to inform science-based risk assessment for many environmental chemicals.
“Dr. Swenberg may be considered as one of the leading individuals in modern chemical carcinogenesis,” wrote Henri Pitot, MD, PhD, UNC oncology and pathology professor emeritus, in his letter of support for Swenberg’s nomination.
Swenberg also has been active in course development, classroom teaching and mentoring.
Dr. Mike Aitken (right) presents the Greenberg Award to Dr. Jim Swenberg.

Dr. Mike Aitken (right) presents the Greenberg Award to Dr. Jim Swenberg.

He has mentored 23 postdoctoral trainees, 17 doctoral students and four master’s students. One of those students was Ivan Rusyn, MD, PhD, now associate professor of environmental sciences and engineering and director of the Laboratory of Environmental Genomics at UNC.

“The interactions with [Dr. Swenberg] have been some of the most influential in my professional life,” Rusyn wrote in a nomination letter.
“Jim has led the toxicology curriculum for many years and has seen it progress from a good program to a great program,” wrote David Kaufman, MD, PhD, vice chair of UNC’s department of pathology and laboratory medicine. “It is now regarded as among the top five graduate programs in toxicology in the nation.”
A native of Northfield, Minn., Swenberg earned Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degrees from the University of Minnesota and master’s and doctoral degrees in veterinary pathology from Ohio State University. He joined the School’s environmental sciences and engineering faculty as professor in 1990, after an established career in industry and academics.
His award was presented by Mike Aitken, PhD, chair of the environmental sciences and engineering department.
The Greenberg Award was established by the School’s Alumni Association to honor Dr. Bernard G. Greenberg, founder and chair of the Department of Biostatistics from 1949 to 1972 and dean of the School from 1972 to 1982. The award, given annually to an outstanding full-time faculty member for excellence in teaching, research and service, carries a cash prize of $12,000 each year for three years.
The Barr Award
Richard Brostrom, MD, MSPH
Dr. Richard Brostrom (right) with wife Sarah Brostrom

Dr. Richard Brostrom (right) with wife Sarah Brostrom

Brostrom, medical director of the Division of Public Health for the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), is also medical director of CNMI’s programs in tuberculosis control, public health bioterrorism preparedness and tobacco control. His award was announced by Jacky Rosati, PhD, president of the School’s Alumni Association.

After earning a Master of Science in Public Health degree from UNC’s public health school in 1987 and medical degree from UNC’s School of Medicine in 1991, Brostrom went to Saipan, CNMI’s capital city, in 1996.
Brostrom says that CNMI, a chain of 15 tropical islands in the western Pacific Ocean, is “a fantastic melting pot of eastern, western and Pacific cultures, with challenging local and global public health issues. We are battling diabetes, obesity, smoking and sedentary lifestyles. We are on the front line for SARS and H5N1 (avian flu). We face frequent typhoons and environmental challenges.”
Brostrom is well known for tobacco cessation programs and influenza control. But some of his most groundbreaking work is with diabetes and multi-drug resistant (MDR) tuberculosis.
“Dr. Brostrom was one of the first people to sound the alarm of this emerging problem of MDR TB on the island state of Chuuk,” said Sapna Bamrah, MD, medical epidemiologist in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Tuberculosis Elimination. Bamrah worked with Brostrom in Chuuk to get the outbreak under control.
“A once dysfunctional public health program is now a model of excellence in the Pacific,” wrote L. Masae Kawamura, MD, director of the TB Control Section of the San Francisco Department of Public Health.
Established in 1975, the Barr Award recognizes the achievements of alumni and their contributions to public health. For many years, the alumni award has carried the name of its 1980 recipient – Harriet Hylton Barr, MPH – to honor her contributions to the field. The Barr Award recognizes leadership, experimentation, collaboration and innovation within the profession; impact within the practice arena; and outstanding service beyond the requirements of the recipient’s employment. Its presentation was particularly poignant this year, given Barr’s death in December 2009. (See the School’s obituary online.)
More than 400 people attended the Foard Lecture events, which included, in addition to the awards presentations, department-level meetings of alumni and friends and a keynote lecture by Jeanne Lambrew, PhD, deputy director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Health Reform.
# # #

UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health contact: Ramona DuBose, director of communications, (919) 966-7467 or ramona_dubose@unc.edu.