PITTSBURGH, March 9 – Nancy Brinker, famed breast cancer activist and founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, will be the 2009 recipient of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health's (GSPH) Porter Prize in recognition of her outstanding achievements promoting health and preventing disease. Ms. Brinker ignited the global breast cancer movement nearly 30 years ago when she promised her dying sister, Susan G. Komen, that she would put an end to the pain, fear and hopelessness associated with the disease. Ms. Komen died of breast cancer at the age of 36.
Ms. Brinker will be honored at 5:30 p.m., Thursday, March 12, at an invitation-only reception at the Sheraton Station Square. Members of the media are welcome to attend.
Among the audience will be breast cancer survivors and researchers who are part of the Pittsburgh-based National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP) – the world's most influential clinical cancer program. Since 1974, GSPH has directed the NSABP's Biostatistical Center, serving as the foundation for the project's numerous studies that have led to groundbreaking improvements in breast cancer care.
"We are delighted to honor Ms. Brinker with the 2009 Porter Prize," said Donald S. Burke, M.D., GSPH dean and UPMC-Jonas Salk Chair of Global Health. "Her determination and vision to create a world without breast cancer mirrors our own efforts to save lives and energize science to find cures for disease."
Since Ms. Brinker founded Susan G. Komen for the Cure in 1982, it has grown into a global organization of volunteers who raise money and awareness through local affiliates and sponsor Komen Race for the Cure events across the country. Since the first race was held in Dallas in 1983, the Komen organization has grown to sponsor more than 100 races annually across the globe, drawing more than one million participants. Locally, the Komen Pittsburgh Race for the Cure takes place on Mother's Day every year to raise community awareness and funding for breast cancer education and scientific research, and to honor breast cancer survivors and those who have died of the disease.
At the time the organization was founded, the words "breast cancer" were rarely uttered in public. Few treatment options existed and funding for breast cancer research was scarce. Within a few years, Ms. Brinker succeeded in overcoming the silence surrounding the disease, changing the way it is talked about and treated. Today, the Komen organization is recognized as the nation's leading catalyst in the fight against breast cancer, with more than 100,000 volunteers working in a network of 125 U.S. and international affiliates.
In addition to her work with the Komen organization, Ms. Brinker served as U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Hungary during the Bush administration where she advanced a broad range of U.S. security and economic interests. She also served as the administration's Chief of Protocol of the United States.
Established in 1983 by the Health Education Center, the Porter Prize is named in honor of the center's founding chairman Milton Porter. Until his death in 1996, Mr. Porter remained devoted to helping people achieve better health through personal behavior and access to wellness information and health care. As CEO of L.B. Foster Co., he was one of the first industrialists in the nation to view the workplace as a site for wellness programs. The Porter Prize committee is chaired by Mr. Porter's nephew, Lee Foster.
Past Porter Prize recipients have included Bill Cosby, Ed.D., in recognition of the health promotion messages he has shared with audiences over the years through his writings, television programs and stand-up comedy routines; Fred Rogers, for his work in childhood education; C. Everett Koop, M.D., for calling national attention to poor behavior as a determinant of health; community-based health care advocate Wilford Payne; Louis Sullivan, M.D., former secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services who initiated "Healthy People," the nation's first 'goals for prevention;' social worker and author Lisbeth Schorr; and William Novelli, president of the American Association of Retired People, for his creative approach to health improvements for all ages.
To learn more about GSPH and the Porter Prize, visit the school's Web site at www.publichealth.pitt.edu.
For information about the Komen Pittsburgh Race for the Cure, visit www.komenpittsburgh.org or call (412) 342-0500.