Alumna honored for achievements in public health

Posted on Nov 14, 2015 in News

Cynthia Harris was among 12 alumni honored with the Mike and Joyce Shinn African-American Leaders & Innovators award at the Black Alumni Network‘s reunion, held on campus Sept. 25-27. The award recognizes leaders from the KU community for their impact on society.

Harris, c’78, g’82, directs the Institute for Public Health at Florida A&M University. A Kansas City native, she earned degrees in biology and genetics from KU and completed her doctorate in biomedical sciences at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee. After a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University, she became the first African-American to serve as branch chief for the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, a coordinating agency of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

She created the first doctoral program in public health in Florida, and she designed the online master’s degree program, a first for the university and among all historically black colleges and universities. Harris chairs the board of the Florida Public Health Association and the editorial board of the Harvard Journal of Public Health. She also serves as vice president of the Trust for America’s Health, and she serves on the Florida Sickle Cell Task Force and the National Science Advisory Board on Exposure and Human Health.

Learn about other honorees of the African-American Leaders & Innovators Project here. These talented and sometimes controversial African-Americans helped shape the University as well as the cities, states and nations their work touched.

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