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Kaid Benfield’s Blog

A salute to one of the good guys in public health, Andy Dannenberg

Kaid Benfield

Posted January 18, 2011 in Health and the Environment, Living Sustainably

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Dr. Andy Dannenberg just retired from a long stint at the Centers for Disease Control, where he was a real champion of improving the built environment – especially the walkability of our neighborhoods – to support health.  I had the pleasure of getting to know Andy when he was an early and astute adviser to LEED-ND, helping us shape it.  I didn’t know he was moving on from the CDC, but my friend Dick Jackson recently passed this along:

On December 31, 2010, CAPT Andrew L. (“Andy”) Dannenberg, MD, MPH retired from CDC after 21 years of service with the federal government.

Andy Dannenberg received an MD from Stanford University and an MPH from Johns Hopkins University and completed a family medicine residency at the Medical University of South Carolina. Dr. Andy Dannenberg (via Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health)Before coming to EEHS, Andy was Director for the Division of Applied Public Health Training in the CDC Epidemiology Program Office. He also was a medical epidemiologist at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, and Director of the Johns Hopkins Preventive Medicine Residency Program.

From 2001 through 2010, Andy was the Associate Director for Science in the Division of Emergency and Environmental Health Services (EEHS) at the National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH). During this time he also served as Team Leader of the NCEH/EEHS Healthy Community Design Initiative. For the past decade, his research and teaching has focused on the relationship between public health and the design of the built environment.

Although he is retiring from CDC, Andy’s schedule will continue to be full. He will serve as a clinical professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences in the School of Public Health and as an affiliate professor in the Department of Urban Design and Planning in the College of the Built Environments—both at the University of Washington in Seattle—and he will continue to work with the Healthy Community Design Initiative as a consultant to CDC. Look for Andy as coauthor, with Howard Frumkin and Richard Jackson, of the forthcoming book Making Healthy Places: Designing and Building for Health, Well-being and Sustainability, which will be published by Island Press in mid-2011.

EEHS colleagues fondly note that Andy was (and is!) an exercise fanatic who always reminds colleagues to take the stairs. Andy notes that one of his proudest accomplishments was that he worked on the 6th floor of Chamblee building 106 for 3 years and never took the elevator.

Pretty impressive, including that last bit.  I'm really looking forward to reading the new book.

To get a sense of the vision developed by Andy and his colleagues at the CDC, take a look at the excellent web resource they have built up, Designing and Building Healthy Places.  It is rich with valuable information on such important topics as physical activity, respiratory health, children’s health, aging, food, healthy home design, mental health and social capital, and health impact assessments.  It’s nicely organized, too, and makes a great go-to place for connecting the dots on these topics. 

None of this existed prior to Andy's tenure (or that of his former colleagues and soon to be co-authors, Dick Jackson and Howie Frumkin) at the CDC.  The institution has become a real leader in researching and evolving this branch of the public health field, and it will be critical that the work be continued with vigor.

Well-earned, my man.  Enjoy.

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Kaid Benfield writes (almost) daily about community, development, and the environment.  For more posts, see his blog's home page. 

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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