January 27, 2020
Robert W. Haley, MD, presents a seminar after receiving the inaugural
Laurance N. Nickey, MD, Lifetime Achievement Award. Photo: TMA/Matthew Lemke
The Texas Medical Association (TMA) presented its inaugural Laurance N. Nickey, MD, Lifetime Achievement Award to Robert W. Haley, MD, director of the Division of Epidemiology at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and a TMA physician leader. Doctors presented the award Saturday at the 2020 TMA Winter Conference in Austin. The award, created by the TMA Council on Science and Public Health, recognizes a TMA member physician who has made outstanding contributions to medicine through a significant commitment to public health.
The award honors Laurance N. Nickey, MD (1931-2018), a pediatrician and longtime director of the El Paso City-County Health District. Dr. Nickey was instrumental in increasing women’s access to prenatal care in El Paso, organizing polio vaccinations in Southwest Texas and New Mexico, and establishing the United States-Mexico Border Health Commission to address cross-border public health issues and concerns.
“I’m overwhelmed to be honored because there are so many people in Texas who equally deserve that award,” said Dr. Haley. “People go into medicine to help people and make their lives better. Dr. Nickey’s example and his ability to inspire made him one of the most outstanding influences from the viewpoint of public health.”
“Throughout his career, Dr. Nickey figured out that in order to improve the health of all Texans, he and all of us had to think outside the walls, the borders, the lines of the state of Texas,” said Eduardo Sanchez, MD, a TMA physician leader, former Texas health commissioner, and chief medical officer for prevention and chief of the Center for Health Metrics and Evaluation for the American Heart Association. “In recognition of the many contributions Dr. Nickey made to public health, the TMA Council on Science and Public Health is honored to recognize Dr. Haley and his outstanding contributions to public health in Texas.”
“Like the late Dr. Nickey, Dr. Haley has exhibited an impressive commitment to community [and] leadership within TMA and his county medical society, while mentoring countless young physicians and public health professionals,” said Wendy Chung, MD, chair of TMA’s Council on Science and Public Health, who presented the award. “He is a clean air advocate, sought to reduce ozone-causing emissions from coal-fired power plants, and established TMA’s air pollution control policies. Texans breathe easier and live better because of Dr. Haley’s work.”
Dr. Haley has spent much of his career studying infectious diseases and epidemics, and how to prevent them. He also has conducted extensive research to prevent hospital-related infections, fought to improve air quality – therefore public health – by reducing ozone-causing emissions, and studied health disorders affecting Gulf War veterans.
He served 10 years at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta as an epidemiologic investigator and as a director of infectious disease research. Dr. Haley returned to Texas in 1983 and founded UT Southwestern’s Division of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, where he directs courses in clinical epidemiology, biostatistics, computing, and disease prevention.
Dr. Haley also was part of physicians’ front-line response to the Ebola outbreak in Dallas in 2014, sharing accurate information and quelling the community’s fears.
The honoree serves as an attending physician in internal medicine services at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas. He has published more than 150 articles in scientific journals and served as the president of the Dallas County Medical Society. Dr. Haley has promoted public health causes for more than 30 years as a member of the TMA House of Delegates and the TMA Council on Science and Public Health.
Dr. Haley began his career as a philosophy instructor at his alma mater, Southern Methodist University, and later received his medical degree from UT Southwestern Medical School.
TMA is the largest state medical society in the nation, representing more than 53,000 physician and medical student members. It is located in Austin and has 110 component county medical societies around the state. TMA’s key objective since 1853 is to improve the health of all Texans.
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