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Claudia R. Baquet Receives Watkins-Saunders Award for Health Disparities in Baltimore

Thursday, March 20, 2014

 Claudia R Baquet M.D., M.P.H.
  Claudia R Baquet M.D., M.P.H.

The American Heart Association (AHA) is proud to announce the selection of Claudia R. Baquet, MD, MPH, Associate Dean of Policy Planning, Professor of Medicine, and the Director of the Bioethics and Health Disparities Research Center at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, as the recipient of AHA’s 2014 Watkins-Saunders Award. This annual prestigious award honors the groundbreaking clinical, medical, and community work of Dr. Levi Watkins and Dr. Elijah Saunders and recognizes individuals whose work exemplifies excellence in their endeavors to diminish healthcare disparities in Maryland.

Dr. Baquet is being recognized for her exceptional work on nationally legitimizing the role of policy research in addressing health disparities. Her research laid the foundation for health disparities dating back to her landmark research at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) [1984-1992] and her role on the Secretary’s Task Force on Black and Minority Health Chapters on Health Services and Cancer. This led to a policy change at NCI in reporting cancer statistics by requiring the inclusion of race and ethnic specific data, an essential development of the first intervention trials to address screening and tobacco cessation for African Americans. Later, this led to the National Black, Hispanic, and Appalachia Leadership Initiatives on Cancer and subsequent research programs for Native Americans and Native Hawaiians. Dr. Baquet has also worked on rural health disparities policy and health needs in the U.S. Insular Areas and she served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health in Public Health Services (1992-1994). Her novel model for bidirectional academic-community engagement in partnered research led to leveraging significant disparities research funding for community organizations of over $18 million from her grant portfolio which exceeds $70 million.

The 2014 Watkins-Saunders Award is the most recent award to be added to an impressive list of accolades for Dr. Baquet, including the National Institute of Health’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Special Award for “Closing the Health Gap in the Communities We Serve”; the American Public Health Association’s David P. Rall Award for “Advocacy in Public Health”; the National Medical Association’s Council on Concerns of Women Physicians Research Award; the YWCA of Greater Baltimore’s “Racial Justice Award”; the American Cancer Society National Board of Directors’ St. George Award; the Maryland Governor’s Cancer Council’s Martin Abeloff Award for Excellence in Cancer Research, Education and Cancer Control; and honors from the Maryland Senate and the American Association for Cancer Research for her “longstanding commitment to the community” and significant advancements to the science of cancer and health disparities research.

Dr. Baquet is honored to have been chosen to receive the 2014 Watkins-Saunders Award. “It is a true privilege to receive this award named for two legends,” she says. “I knew Dr. Watkins when I was a graduate student at Hopkins, and he was always so giving of his time for mentorship. After graduating from Hopkins and before I went to NIH, I had the privilege of working with Dr. Saunders at Provident Hospital on community research, education and outreach. He has always been a force in championing community needs.”

Dr. Baquet was presented the 2014 Watkins-Saunders Award at the 30th Annual Baltimore Heart Ball on Saturday, February 1st. The ball, chaired by the Baltimore Orioles, took place at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel.

“The Department of Medicine congratulates Dr. Baquet on this well-deserved award, which is named, in part, for another esteemed member of our department, Dr. Elijah Saunders," said Stephen Davis, MBBS, Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. "I was honored to be in attendance at the ceremony where she was recognized by the American Heart Association for all of her hard work to diminish healthcare disparities in the state of Maryland, and I thank her for her dedication to this cause.”

About the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association

The American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association are devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – America’s No. 1 and No. 4 leading causes of death. We partner with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The American Heart Association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. The American Stroke Association is a division of the American Heart Association. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-800-AHA-USA1, visit heart.org or call any of our offices around the country.

For more information about the Heart Ball, please contact Annette Fisher, Senior Communications Director at 410-246-6726 or email Annette.fisher@heart.org.

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