Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH, Honored With American Diabetes Association’s Distinguished Service Achievement Award

December 5, 2008

The American Diabetes Association, the nation’s largest and leading voluntary health organization in the fight against diabetes, announced that Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH, received the Association’s prestigious C. Everett Koop Medal for Health Promotion and Awareness at the organization’s Community Volunteer Leadership Conference and Annual Meeting on November 23 in Tampa, Florida.

The C. Everett Koop Medal for Health Promotion and Awareness is named for former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Koop and honors excellence in wellness promotion and disease prevention.

“The American Diabetes Association is pleased to present this prestigious award to Dr. Frieden,” stated R. Stewart Perry, Chair of the Board, American Diabetes Association. “His contributions to the diabetes community and to health education are aligned with the Association’s mission to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people living with diabetes.”

Dr. Frieden graduated from Oberlin College and received degrees in Medicine and Public Health from Columbia University. He also completed specialty training in Internal Medicine at Columbia and subspecialty training in Infectious Diseases at Yale University.

Frieden has been New York City’s Commissioner of Health and Mental Hygiene since January 2002. Dr. Frieden, a leading expert in tuberculosis control, was appointed NYC Health Commissioner after working in India for five years, where he assisted with tuberculosis control efforts. Prior to his time in India, Dr. Frieden served as New York’s Director of the Bureau of Tuberculosis Control and Assistant Commissioner from 1992–1996. During that time, New York City saw reduced cases of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis by 80 percent.

Frieden has been a leader in restaurant food labeling. His most recent public health cause is reducing the consumption of trans fats in New York City. Trans fats are linked to heart disease and this proposal is especially relevant to people with diabetes who are at increased risk for heart attack and stroke. Heart disease is the leading cause of diabetes-related deaths. Adults with diabetes have heart disease death rates about 2 to 4 times higher than adults without diabetes. In 2006, the city’s Board of Health imposed a ban on the use of trans fats in city restaurants. The move sparked a nationwide movement against trans fats and several states and cities have recently enacted similar bans.

Frieden also led New York City to begin using methods for tracking diabetes as had previously been used for communicable diseases like tuberculosis. He championed the development of an A1C tracking program in New York City to facilitate better health outcomes in “the only major health problem in the U.S. that is getting worse, and getting worse rapidly.”

Diabetes is a serious disease that affects the body’s ability to produce or respond properly to insulin, a hormone that allows blood glucose to enter the cells of the body and be used for energy. Diabetes is growing at an alarming rate with nearly 24 million children and adults living with this disease and another 57 million Americans at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

About the American Diabetes Association

Nearly half of American adults have diabetes or prediabetes; more than 30 million adults and children have diabetes; and every 21 seconds, another individual is diagnosed with diabetes in the U.S. Founded in 1940, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) is the nation’s leading voluntary health organization whose mission is to prevent and cure diabetes, and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes. The ADA drives discovery by funding research to treat, manage and prevent all types of diabetes, as well as to search for cures; raises voice to the urgency of the diabetes epidemic; and works to safeguard policies and programs that protect people with diabetes. In addition, the ADA supports people living with diabetes, those at risk of developing diabetes, and the health care professionals who serve them through information and programs that can improve health outcomes and quality of life. For more information, please call the ADA at 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383) or visit Information from both of these sources is available in English and Spanish. Find us on Facebook (American Diabetes Association), Twitter (@AmDiabetesAssn) and Instagram (@AmDiabetesAssn)