Elaine Larson, PhD, RN, FAAN, editor of the American Journal of Infection Control (AJIC), and associate dean for research, Columbia University School of Nursing, was selected by the New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM) as the 2014 recipient of the John Stearns Medal for Distinguished Contributions in Clinical Practice. Dr. Larson, a pioneer in promoting hand hygiene for infection prevention and control, is the first nurse to receive the honor. Past recipients include Nobel Laureates and Surgeons General.
Dr. Larson has published more than 200 journal articles, four books, and a number of book chapters on infection prevention, epidemiology, and clinical research and consults in infection control and nursing both nationally and internationally. She has served as editor of AJIC, the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology’s (APIC) official scientific journal, since 1994.
Dr. Larson’s research in hand hygiene and compliance among other topics have been put her at the forefront of implementation science movement to promote better health and healthcare. In 2013, she was named the first recipient of the Distinguished Scientist Award by APIC for her significant and sustained contributions to infection prevention science and scholarly excellence and leadership within the scientific community.
Dr. Larson is a fellow in the Institute of Medicine and has advised the World Health Organization on best practices for hand washing. She served on the President’s Committee for Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses, the Board of Scientific Counselors for the National Center for Infectious Diseases at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and was a chair of the CDC’s Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee. Larson has also served as a consultant in infection control internationally, contributing to prevention and education efforts countries such as Kuwait, Jordan, Singapore, Japan, Australia, Ghana, Peru, Brazil, Spain, Portugal, France, and Egypt. She holds a joint appointment at the Mailman School of Public Health, where she is a professor of epidemiology.
The NYAM medal for lifetime achievement in clinical practice was established in 1992 and named for John Stearns, the first president of the Academy. It is awarded for extraordinary contributions to clinical practice in disease prevention, treatment, rehabilitation; physician-patient communication; clinical medical education; or medical ethics. Past recipients include former U.S. Surgeons General David Satcher and Julius B. Richmond; neurophysiologist Torsten Wiesel and molecular biologist Joshua Lederberg, winners of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine; and epidemiologist Donald Henderson, recognized with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his work in the 1960s to eradicate smallpox.
NYAM’s more than 2,000 elected fellows embody the highest levels of achievement and leadership in the fields of urban health, science, social work, nursing, education, law, medicine, and research. Established in 1847, NYAM addresses the health challenges facing the world’s urban populations through interdisciplinary approaches to policy leadership, innovative research, evaluation, education, and community engagement. Larson will be presented with the award during The New York Academy of Medicine’s 167th Anniversary Discourse and Awards on November 6, 2014.