Press Releases

2006 Releases

Health Services Researcher and HSPH Professor Marie McCormick Receives Douglas K. Richardson Award

For immediate release: April 27, 2006  

Boston, MA - Harvard School of Public Health Professor Marie McCormick, M.D., Sc.D., will receive the Douglas K. Richardson Award for Perinatal and Pediatric Healthcare Research at the 2006 annual meeting of the Society for Pediatric Research in San Francisco, CA, this weekend.

McCormick, Sumner and Esther Feldberg Professor of Maternal and Child Health in the Department of Society, Human Development, and Health, will receive the award at the Neonatal Public Health Poster Symposium on April 30, after which she will deliver a lecture on "Improving the Outcomes of Premature Infants."

McCormick has devoted her career to researching and raising awareness about children's health issues. She is a pioneer in research related to low-birth weight infants and their health outcomes, being among the first to document the increased risk of rehospitalization among these children after discharge from the hospital. Later investigations by McCormick explored the impact of very premature infants on their families generally and financially.

She followed this work with being one of the first researchers to document the numerous problems, including increased risk for hospitalizations and behavioral and emotional difficulties, faced by school-aged children who were born at very low birth weights.

McCormick helped launch the Infant Health and Development Program, a long-term, landmark study that measures the impact of three years of regular home counseling on how to enhance an infant's development, two years of free daycare center programs, and participation in a parental support group. She recently published findings from the study in the March 2006 issue of Pediatrics, confirming that well-designed interventions in the earliest years can overcome certain environmental and biological disadvantages.

McCormick was co-principal investigator of the National Healthy Start Program, a national demonstration program to halve infant mortality in high-risk communities across the country. She is also part of a team that is writing up the results of a large study of decisions surrounding the discharge of full-term infants conducted through the Pediatric Research in Office Settings of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

She chaired the Immunization Safety Review Committee of the Institute of Medicine, producing a seminal report that emphasized the lack of evidence for a link between autism and the MMR vaccine. Her work on the committee has also investigated the putative link between the Hepatitis B Vaccine and certain neurological disorders - finding none - and other subjects such as flu vaccine and neurological disorders. She also chaired the IOM Committee on Preventing Perinatal Transmission of HIV and the Committee on Prenatal and Newborn Screening for HIV Infection.

McCormick is a Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, and the former Chair of the HSPH Department of Maternal and Child, now incorporated into the Department of Society, Human Development, and Health. She received her M.D. degree from Johns Hopkins Medical School, and her Sc.D. degree from Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health.

The Douglas K. Richardson Award honors the lifetime achievement of an investigator who has made a substantive contribution in an area encompassing 1) the effective utilization of healthcare services, 2) the identification of risk factors for adverse outcomes, 3) general epidemiologic health services studies or 4) patient oriented clinical studies that lead to improved healthcare delivery to the neonatal/pediatric populations. The award is made annually by the Society for Pediatric Research and provides an honorarium and plaque.

Douglas Richardson was best known for his research on neonatal illness severity and variations in neonatal clinical practice. He developed the Score for Neonatal Acute Physiology (SNAP), an important instrument that measures the severity of illness based on deviation of measures of physiologic function, rather than subjective clinical assessments. This tool was validated by exhaustive testing and was shown to have excellent predictive power for both mortality and morbidity independent of birth weight. SNAP, and subsequent refinements of this instrument, have been used by multiple investigators to study numerous risk factors and interventions in the neonatal intensive care setting.

Christina Roache
Office of Communications