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University of Iowa News Release

April 20, 2005

Fuortes Named Recipient Of Award For Community Engagement

Laurence Fuortes, M.D., professor of occupational and environmental health, has been selected as the first recipient of a new University of Iowa College of Public Health award for faculty achievement in community engagement.

The award, established this year by the College of Public Health's Board of Advisors, recognizes a faculty member for application of theory, research and practice to address public health challenges at the community level.

Fuortes was selected for his leadership of numerous projects with major community service components, including programs focused on pesticide toxicology, traumatic head and spinal cord injury, and his direction of the Burlington Atomic Energy Commission Plant-Former Worker Program (BAECP-FWP). Since 2000, the BAECP-FWP, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, has provided free medical screenings to more than 600 former nuclear weapons workers at the Iowa Army Ammunition Plant (IAAP) near Burlington. The screenings are intended to identify occupational illnesses potentially caused by work at the plant, which between 1947 and 1975 was one of only two U.S. facilities involved in the final assembly of atomic weapons.

Fuortes has also been an active member of many community-based organizations in the Iowa City area, including the Iowa City Free Medical Clinic, the Iowa City Crisis Center and Foodbank, the Johnson County Coalition Against Tobacco Addiction Among Youth and the Salvation Army. In 2002, Fuortes was the recipient of a Fulbright Research/Lectureship Award, which he used to conduct tuberculosis surveillance and prevention research and teach medical students in community health at the University of Natal in South Africa.

"This award is a fitting tribute to Dr. Fuortes for his extraordinary efforts over many years to reach out and be of service to communities across Iowa and beyond," said Stephen Ummel, chair of the College of Public Health Board of Advisors and chair of the selection committee. "His work is representative of the College of Public Health faculty's deep commitment to community engagement."

In her nominating letter, Kristina Venzke, project coordinator of the BAECP-FWP, identified Fuortes' dedication, energy and personal commitment to the project serving the former nuclear workers.

"Dr. Fuortes is one of those rare individuals whose actions are as strong as his words," Venzke wrote. "His dedication to social justice is as important in his professional life as it is in his personal life."

The award for Faculty Achievement in Community Engagement was announced at the College of Public Health Board of Advisors meeting Tuesday, April 19.

STORY SOURCE: The University of Iowa College of Public Health, Office of Communications, 4261 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242.

MEDIA CONTACT: Dan McMillan, 319-335-6835,