IOM Presents 2013 Lienhard Award to Leader of Smoking Cessation and Tobacco Prevention Efforts

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The Institute of Medicine has (IOM) presented the 2013 Gustav O. Lienhard Award to Steven A. Schroeder, MD, whose pioneering efforts to control tobacco use have helped save millions from premature, smoking-related deaths.  The award also recognizes Dr. Schroeder’s leadership in general medicine as well as his work to improve end-of-life care.

“It is my great privilege to present this award to a dedicated champion of health for Americans and citizens around the world,” said IOM President Harvey V. Fineberg. “Dr. Schroeder’s perseverance in funding tobacco research and creating breakthrough strategies to help smokers quit facilitated a shift in public attitudes toward smoking and shaped policies to prevent smoking.”   

Initiated Smoking Cessation Efforts

As president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation from 1990 to 2002, Dr. Schroeder established and led programs to reduce smoking, enhance end-of-life care, expand health insurance for children, and encourage physical activity.  His most influential initiative focused on leveraging research, policy, advocacy, and education to reduce tobacco use and drive systemwide changes that created higher tobacco taxes, smoke-free indoor air laws, and better access to addiction treatment.  Robert Wood Johnson Foundation tobacco research was cited in the formulation of and advocacy for such policy adoption.  The impact of anti-smoking campaigns by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and its partners was profound.  Smoking rates among adults declined from 25.5% in 1993 to 18% in 2011, meaning that 5.3 million fewer people were smoking and more than 60,000 smoking-related deaths had been avoided by 2010.  

At Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Dr. Schroeder also funded the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care, which was influential in documenting large regional variations in medical services that do not correlate to desired health-care outcomes. Furthermore, after negative results from a controlled trial to improve care for seriously ill hospital patients, known as the SUPPORT study, Dr. Schroeder instituted a series of national programs to improve such care at hospitals.  Bringing together physicians, nurses, palliative care experts, clergy, and patients, the initiative attempted to minimize legal barriers to prescribing pain medications at the end of life, expand hospice and hospital-based palliative care, energize patient groups, and work with hospital chaplains.  As a result, more than 500 hospitals have received training in palliative care and many have instituted their own programs.

Founded Smoking Cessation Leadership Center

Upon leaving Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and returning in 2003 to the University of California, San Francisco -- he was originally on the faculty from 1976 to 1990 – Dr. Schroeder continued his dedication to curbing tobacco use by founding the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center.  Under his direction, the center aims to increase the cessation rate of smokers and the number of clinicians who help smokers quit by creating partnerships to develop and implement action plans.  By working with leaders at more than 80 health organizations nationwide, the center has expanded the types of groups that support smokers’ attempts to quit, such as dental hygienists, pharmacists, emergency physicians, and nurses; created new ways to market toll-free telephone quit lines; and engaged the mental health community in treating tobacco addiction. 

Dr. Schroeder earned his his medical degree from Harvard Medical School.  He trained in internal medicine at the Harvard Medical Service of Boston City Hospital and in epidemiology as an epidemic intelligence service officer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Dr. Schroeder is the past chair of the American Legacy Foundation (now known as Legacy for Health), which in 2006 established the Schroeder Institute for Tobacco Research and Policy Studies in his honor.  He was elected to the IOM in 1982 and is the former chair of IOM’s Board on Health Care Services. 

Dr. Schroeder is the 28th recipient of the Lienhard Award, which includes a medal and $40,000 prize.  Given annually, the award recognizes outstanding achievement in improving personal health care services in the United States.  Nominees are eligible for consideration without regard to education or profession, and award recipients are selected by a committee of experts convened by the IOM.  This year’s selection committee was chaired by Raynard S. Kington, president of Grinnell College.

Additional information about the Lienhard Award can be found at ■