Awards : Hall of Fame Award

Irwin Redlener, M.D. ’69

Irwin Redlener, M.D. ’69 is president of The Children’s Health Fund, which he co-founded with singer Paul Simon in 1987. The fund develops and supports health care programs for medically underserved children- more than 300,000 children have received medical care through its national network. He is associate dean at the Joseph L. Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. He directs Columbia’s National Center on Disaster Preparedness and a special initiative on public health advocacy. Previously, Redlener played a leading role in the development of the The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, New York, where he served as president and chief spokesperson.

He helped organize and continues to serve on the Task Force on Terrorism of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the pediatric disaster committee of the National Association of Children’s Hospitals. He has also been co-chairman of the Healthy Start Advisory Group for America’s Promise: The Alliance for Youth and served a two-year term as chairman of the National Advisory Council on the National Health Service Corps. He has assisted in relief efforts in Honduras, Guatemala, Ethiopia as well as South Florida. From 1971 to 1973 he directed a rural, VISTA-run health center in East Arkansas. From 1986 to 1987 he was director of grants and medical director of USA for Africa and Hands Across America. Redlener practiced general pediatrics and directed a special care nursery for seven years. He developed and directed a pediatric intensive care unit as a faculty member of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine; served as professor of pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine; and as lecturer in pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.

Since September 11, 2001, Redlener has emerged as one of the country’s leading authorities on terrorism and disaster preparedness, with a particular emphasis on the needs of children and families. He was among the first to call attention to the special vulnerabilities of children to chemical and biological agents, outlining recommendations and urging legislators to strengthen the public health system to include provisions for children. These recommendations were an impetus for children’s provisions incorporated into a bioterrorism bill signed by President Bush in June 2002. In February 2003, Redlener convened a coalition of experts from government agencies, professional organizations, emergency medicine, and other specialties to analyze existing data on the needs of children in disaster planning, preparation and response at the federal, state and local levels, and to develop consensus recommendations about pediatric emergency preparedness.