I remember my 1968 trip to Dallas for the Academy of Achievement Banquet of the Golden Plate very clearly, despite the fact that it was 47 years ago. I had just graduated from high school and it was my first plane trip alone and the first time I had ever worn a tuxedo and stayed in a hotel by myself. Very exciting. The dinner was huge and glamorous and I remember being addressed by an astronaut (Jim Lovell), a baseball star (Stan Musial), and a U.S. Senator (Daniel Inouye). Inspiring!
I’ve been very fortunate since then. I graduated from Harvard College, the University of Rochester Medical School, and Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health, and I became a family doctor and preventive medicine specialist. I spent most of my career in the U.S. Public Health Service, retiring as an Assistant Surgeon General. While in the PHS I had the good fortune to work on and lead several programs that have helped improve the health of Americans, such as the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. It makes evidence-based recommendations on which preventive services Americans should receive. I’ve also been a professor of family medicine at Georgetown University Medical Center — where I teach medical students and family medicine residents — a chief scientist at the non-profit research institute RTI International, and a health policy columnist for the global medical journal The BMJ.