NIEHS/NTP Director Dr. Kenneth Olden Receives Society of Toxicology’s Public Communications Award
Dr. Kenneth Olden, Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program, will be presented the Public Communications Award by the Society of Toxicology at their annual meeting March 21, 2004, in Baltimore, Maryland. He is cited for his highly visible role in making a compelling case for improving the science base for environmental health decision-making. The citation reads: "His exemplary leadership of the NIEHS has fostered a strong human disease outcome focus to guide environmental health research and has served as a model for effective integration and focusing of bench research on human and environmental health issues
His ability to reach all audiences and tireless commitment to bettering the health of the public-at-large makes him one of our discipline's most effective advocate and communicator." The award comes with a stipend of $3,000 and a plaque.
Communication has been the centerpiece of Ken Olden's efforts to increase the visibility and funding base for toxicology and other environmental health science disciplines. His vision and use of resources at his disposal to create a bridge between the public and the research community have been impressive. For example, Dr. Olden created the monthly version of the Environmental Health Perspectives Journal in 1993 as an authoritative source of information on environmental health issues. It has become a leading journal in the field of public health. It is currently published in both English and Mandarin Chinese, and a Spanish version will appear soon. In January of 2004, the
Environmental Health Perspectives became an open access journal, fulfilling Dr. Olden's long-range vision. In announcing the move to open access, Dr. Olden said: "Open access to scientific information will facilitate learning and bring the benefits of modern science to people, both rich and poor, all over the world."
However, the linchpin of his vision to establish better communication between the public, researchers, and policy makers is the practice of holding regional Town Meetings. These meetings are held regularly at different locations throughout the United States and provide an open forum for the public to come and express their concerns about their health as it relates to the environment. The Town Meetings receive extensive coverage by local television, radio and newspapers.
During his tenure as Director of NIEHS/NTP, Dr. Olden has received numerous awards and honors, including the City of Medicine Award in 1996, and Honorary Doctorate Degrees from the University of Rochester and the College of Charleston in 2003.
Dr. Olden, his wife, Sandra White, Ph.D., and daughter, Heather, live in Durham. He also has three grown children.