Climate for Health Leader Gary Cohen Receives MacArthur Genius Award

By path2positive

Gary Cohen understands the importance of getting healthcare institutions on board with long-term sustainability efforts. That is why he formed Health Care Without Harm in 1996, with a mission "to transform the health sector worldwide, without compromising patient safety or care, so that it becomes ecologically sustainable and a leading advocate for environmental health and justice."  Health Care Without Harm has since grown to become a broad-based international coalition of organizations, hospitals and health partners in more than 50 countries.  Just as medical professionals take the the Hippocratic Oath and promise to "first, do no harm," they have a responsibility to eliminate practices that harm people and the environment. Although Gary has been working actively on environmental health initiative for years, this week the MacArthur Foundation awarded him with "genius" grant. "I just thought it was such an honor and validation not only for my work, but the work of the organization and the people who built the social movement inside of health care that has now taken root," he says in the Washington Post article below. Climate champions exist across all sectors, but we're particularly glad to see that our own Gary Cohen, from Climate for Health's leadership circle, has been recognized with this distinguished award.

MacArthur ‘Genius’ Gary Cohen: Health Industry’s Epiphany Creates Science Opportunity

Washington Post

By Lena H. Sun I September 29, 2015

Health environmentalist Gary Cohen was at a reception for social entrepreneurs in the spring when someone from the MacArthur "genius" fellowships program sat down next to him. He remembered telling her how important it was to raise awareness about the impact of environment on health. He described his decades of work. She nodded politely.

Cohen kept her card in his office. "I prayed deeply that something might transpire from this," he said in an interview Tuesday from his home in Boston.

As it turned out, Cecilia Conrad was a plant. The MacArthur Foundation had already picked him as one of its 2015 grant recipients, and Conrad, managing director of the fellows program, was doing reconnaissance. She confessed as much when she contacted him recently with the good news: "She said, 'I was purposely sitting next to you to check you out.'"

Cohen runs Health Care Without Harm, an organization he co-founded in 1996. It advocates for health-care corporations and hospital systems to become ecologically sustainable in the face of climate change. The nonprofit is headquartered in Reston, Va., but has offices around the world.

The group of fellows includes two other health experts: Lorenz Studer, a stem cell biologist who is working on Parkinson's disease, and Beth Stevens, a neuroscientist working on how the brain's wiring develops during childhood into early adulthood.

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