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NIH Record - 75th Anniversary - National Institutes of Health

Birnbaum Honored by North Carolina

A smiling Dr. Birnbaum

Dr. Linda Birnbaum has received the 2016 North Carolina Award.

Photo: Steve McCaw

NIEHS and National Toxicology Program director Dr. Linda Birnbaum has received the 2016 North Carolina Award, the state’s highest civilian honor. The awards are presented each year in the fields of science, literature, fine arts and public service. 

“It is an honor to pay tribute to these remarkable individuals who have made North Carolina better by their extraordinary involvement in this state,” said Susan Kluttz, secretary of the North Carolina department of natural and cultural resources. “Each has enriched the lives of our citizens and propelled North Carolina onto the national and world stages.”

The award cites Birnbaum’s international recognition in the fields of environmental health and toxicology and her position as the first woman to lead NIEHS, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Before coming to NIEHS, she directed the experimental toxicology division at the Environmental Protection Agency.

“Her work exploring the effects of dioxins, asbestos, flame retardants and Agent Orange has impacted practices and health outcomes worldwide,” the award read in part. “Birnbaum was a trailblazing woman in the science lab as a student in the 1960s. She was encouraged by her high school cheerleading coach who also taught science, making it cool for girls in science.”

Birnbaum received the award from Gov. Pat McCrory at a Sept. 22 banquet and ceremony. Other honorees in the field of science this year are NIEHS grantee Dr. Aziz Sancar and Dr. Paul Modrich, who shared the 2015 Nobel Prize in chemistry with Dr. Tomas Lindahl, for work on DNA repair.—Kelly Lenox

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