EPICOH Scientific Committee
on Epidemiology in Occupational Health

Lifetime Achievement Award

About the Award

Inspired by the recognition of David Wegman’s contribution to the field of occupational epidemiology at the 2014 EPICOH meeting in Chicago, the EPICOH Management Group established the EPICOH Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016. The Award recognizes an individual for their sustained outstanding contributions to the science of occupational epidemiology, and the impact of their work on the field and public health policy. Awards are based on nominations by their peers in the field and selected by the EPICOH Management Group. Presented at the EPICOH annual meeting, the Award includes a keynote lecture by the recipient.

Dr Debra Silverman, 2020 Recipient

The EPICOH Management Group is happy to announce that Dr. Debra Silverman is the recipient of the 2020 EPICOH Lifetime Achievement Award. During her 40+ year career at the National Cancer Institute in the United States, Dr. Silverman has made numerous important contributions to the field of occupational cancer epidemiology. She calculated the first national estimates of occupational-induced bladder cancer in the United States in the 1980s and has continued to conduct important work identifying and characterizing occupational bladder carcinogens since that time. Although her research portfolio is broad, her signature accomplishment is the evaluation of diesel exhaust in the carcinogenicity of cancer of the lung and other sites. She initiated and led the Diesel Exhaust in Miners Study, which estimated, for the first time, the exposure-response curve for lung cancer due to diesel exhaust. This high-profile study withstood extraordinary legal and political challenges from its inception, and its completion is a testament to Dr. Silverman’s persistence. The study has been cited as highly influential in regulatory policy. Dr. Silverman is currently the Chief of the Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Branch, National Cancer Institute, a position she has held since 2008, and where she has mentored and supported many junior researchers in occupational epidemiology. Dr. Silverman will receive her award and give a keynote lecture at the EPICOH Meeting in August 2020 in Montreal.

Professor Neil Pearce, 2019 Recipient

The EPICOH Management Group is happy to announce that Professor Neil Pearce has been selected as the recipient of 2019 EPICOH Lifetime Achievement Award. Professor Pearce will receive his award and give a keynote lecture at the EPICOH Meeting in April 2019 in Wellington, New Zealand. Professor Pearce’s impact on the field of occupational epidemiology is far-reaching. Over his 30 year career, he has made pioneering contributions to occupational health in New Zealand, the UK and internationally, including low and middle-income countries. Professor Pearce has been a highly prolific researcher, with over 600 peer-reviewed publications. His highly original work in cancer, asthma, and chronic kidney and neurodegenerative diseases has contributed significant insights into the etiology and mechanisms of occupational disease. Importantly, he has conducted valuable work on health inequities in vulnerable populations. In addition to his etiologic work, Professor Pearce is a renowned methodologist, and one of the authors of the classic textbook “Research Methods in Occupational Epidemiology”. Through his service on numerous national and international panels he has significantly contributed to policy changes designed to reduce hazards in the work place.

Professor David Coggon, 2017 Recipient

In 2017, the EPICOH Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Prof. David Coggon. Prof. Coggon spent his career at the University of Southampton and the Medical Research Council UK, where he made major research contributions in a number of areas, including musculoskeletal injuries and disability, chemical carcinogens, and the relation of work and health near retirement. His work has contributed to policies protecting worker health in far-reaching areas; for example, he demonstrated that workers exposed to metal fumes were at increased risk of infectious lobar pneumonia, leading to recommendations for immunization for this occupational group. Prof. Coggon has also led or contributed to numerous important organizations that set or influence policy, including serving as President of the Faculty of Occupational Medicine, Royal College of Physicians, London, as an expert on the UK’s Industrial Injuries Advisory Council and as chair/trustee of several national grant funding bodies. He has taught occupational epidemiology courses around the world, and has been a generous mentor to many trainees.

Dr. Aaron Blair, 2016 Recipient

Dr. Aaron Blair was the recipient of the inaugural EPICOH Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016. Dr. Blair’s contributions to the field of occupational epidemiology extend to all aspects of the field, including the important influence his research has had on policies that protect the public’s health throughout the world. Dr. Blair spent his career at the National Cancer Institute in the United States, where he served as Chief of the Occupational and Environmental Branch and its precursor for over 25 years. After his retirement from the National Cancer Institute in 2007, he became the first interim director of the newly formed Occupational Cancer Research Centre in Canada. Among other numerous scientific achievements, Dr. Blair was instrumental in initiating the Agricultural Health Study cohort, as well as the largest studies of formaldehyde and acrylonitrile to date. His work in numerous areas has been cited by regulatory and review agencies, and directly contributed to the classification of several substances as human carcinogens. In addition to his major and sustained scientific contributions, Dr. Blair has influenced the larger occupational epidemiology community by his commitment to mentoring and training, as well as his generosity of time and collegiality.

Precursor to the Lifetime Achievement Award

Dr. David Wegman, 2014 Recipient

Dr. David Wegman’s contributions to the field of occupational epidemiology and to the EPICOH community are extensive and wide-reaching. He was a catalyzing force in the development of many organizations focused on improving the health of workers around the world. For example, Dr. Wegman was an early and consistent supporter of EPICOH as a Scientific Committee of ICOH, starting with the 2nd meeting in 1982 in Montreal and serving as an early Secretary and Chair of the Scientific Committee that later became the EPICOH Scientific Meetings. In 2009, in recognition of his sustained contributions to the field, he was elected as an Honorary Member of ICOH. Dr. Wegman was instrumental in establishing the Department of Work Environment at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, serving as the Founding Chair, and then serving as the Founding Dean of the School of Health and Environment. Throughout his academic career, Dr. Wegman was a generous and thoughtful mentor, modestly working behind the scenes to promote the work of others. In his approach to occupational health, Dr. Wegman engaged stakeholders in all areas, bringing together academics and professional practitioners with workers, labor unions and community groups so that those most impacted by workplace hazards could engage in and sustain the solutions. Dr. Wegman has served on numerous boards and advisory panels most notably the US National Toxicology Program’s Board of Scientific Counsellors, the NIOSH Board of Scientific Counsellors, and as member of two standing boards and chair of several ad hoc committees for the US National Academy of Sciences.