University of South Carolina

Public health researcher receives Folksam Prize

Steven Blair, a professor of exercise science, epidemiology, and biostatistics at the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health, has been awarded the 2010 Folksam Prize in Epidemiological Research.

Steven Blair
Steven Blair

Blair, an internationally recognized authority on exercise and its health benefits, will receive the award at an installation ceremony at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, on Nov. 3. The Institute is considered one of the world’s leading medical universities.

A faculty member in the Arnold School’s Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and the Department of Exercise Science, Blair studies the relationship between lifestyle and health with a specific emphasis on exercise, physical fitness, body composition, and chronic disease.

“Professor Blair has made invaluable contributions to public health through his research into how exercise and physical activity lead to a longer, healthier life, and he has brought his and other scientists’ findings to the attention of decision-makers and the general public with tireless enthusiasm,” said Anders Ahlbom, chair of the award committee.

Blair’s research includes several important methodological contributions to the field, such as objective methods for quantifying physical capacity and evaluating interventions aimed at influencing lifestyles. He also has helped to develop the national guidelines for physical activity and was the scientific editor for the U.S. Surgeon General’s report on physical activity and health.

Tom Chandler, dean of the Arnold School of Public Health, said the award underscores the international impact of Blair’s distinguished career.

“This major international award is recognition of a life’s work that has enhanced our knowledge in the fields of public health, exercise science, public policy and epidemiology,” Chandler said.

"At the Arnold School, Dr. Blair is a respected teacher, mentor, researcher, and friend, and we are proud to have him on our faculty. His scholarly achievements will be reflected in the ongoing work of Blair-influenced young scientists for generations,” he said.

Blair first came to USC in 1966 as a physical education instructor and eventually became a professor in the School of Public Health. He left Carolina in 1984 and spent the next 22 years as a researcher and then as president and CEO of the Cooper Institute in Dallas, a nonprofit research and education center recognized as a leader in exercise science. He returned to USC’s Arnold School in 2006.

”I feel very honored to be recognized,” said Blair, a past president of the American College of Sports Medicine. ”I’ve been doing this for quite a number of years. I have one brilliant ability: To line up with smart, hardworking students, post-docs, and colleagues and go along for the ride. We have great people here in the Arnold School of Public Health.”

A past-president of the American Academy of Kinesiology and Physical Education, Blair has received awards from many professional associations, including a MERIT Award from the National Institutes of Health, ACSM Honor Award and the Robert Levy Lecture Award from the American Heart Association. He is one of the few individuals outside the U.S. Public Health Service to be awarded the Surgeon General's Medallion.

Blair has published more than 390 papers and chapters in the scientific literature.

Folksam has been helping to develop epidemiological and preventative research in the public health field for many years. The Folksam Prize is awarded for epidemiologic research, particularly research that uses epidemiologic materials for disease prevention and public health improvements. The 2009 winner was Laura Fratiglioni of Sweden, a leading researcher in the epidemiology of aging.

Financed through a donation from Folksam, one of Sweden’s largest insurance companies, the prize is worth 100,000 Swedish Krona (about $13,678).

Karolinska Institutet is one of Europe's largest medical universities. According to the 2009 Academic Ranking of World Universities by Shanghai Jiao Tong University, the Karolinska Institute is the highest ranked university in Clinical Medicine and Pharmacy in Europe, eighth in the world, and Sweden's highest ranked university in all categories.

A committee of the Institute appoints the laureates for the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.



Arnold School of Public Health

Posted: 09/08/10 @ 1:00 PM | Updated: 09/08/10 @ 12:57 PM | Permalink