WASHINGTON – The American Medical Association (AMA) presented Michael Osterholm, Ph.D., MPH, with the AMA Award for Outstanding Government Service. The director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota, Osterholm is a renowned epidemiologist who warned for years that the United States was ill-prepared for a pandemic. He was appointed to President-elect Joe Biden’s COVID-19 transition advisory board, and previously served as science envoy for health security on behalf of the U.S. Department of State.

Minnesota’s state epidemiologist from 1984 to 1999, Osterholm is a skilled communicator, capable of distilling complicated, even scary messages, into understandable prose for the general public–a gift of remarkable import during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to his role at CIDRAP and other positions at the University of Minnesota–Regents Professor, McKnight Presidential Endowed Chair in Public health, Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Division of Environmental health Sciences, School of Public Health, and both professor and adjunct professor positions–Osterholm is a New York Times best-selling author and has written more than 315 papers and abstracts on epidemiology of infectious diseases.

“At a time of mass confusion, uncertainty, and very real danger, Dr. Osterholm was a calming presence and steady hand as we confronted COVID-19,” said AMA Board Chair Willie Underwood III, M.D., MSc, MPH. “Having quite literally written the books on bioterrorist catastrophe and the most pressing infectious disease threats, he was uniquely equipped to lead and reassure patients in a situation when misinformation and disinformation threatened to fill substantial gaps in knowledge. For a lifetime of work, leadership and diligent preparation, it is an honor to present Dr. Osterholm with the AMA Award for Outstanding Government Service.”

"I am gratified and humbled to receive this award from an organization I deeply respect. For generations, the American Medical Association has helped protect our nation’s well-being by bringing together the latest thinking in science, policy, and public health,” Dr. Osterholm says. “Though the award is in my name, we know that the field of public health is based on collaboration and collective effort—so many dedicated professionals work tirelessly to protect the health of our communities. I especially want to thank my colleagues at CIDRAP and at the Minnesota Department of Health. I appreciate this recognition, and look forward to working with all of you as we confront future public health challenges.”

“Having worked directly with Dr. Osterholm for many years, the Minnesota Medical Association was honored to nominate him for this prestigious award,” said MMA President Laurel Ries, MD. “Minnesota physicians recognize his vast and deep expertise and value his ability to communicate threats to public health in a way that penetrates through so much noise. We are particularly grateful for his collaboration and genuine empathy for the individuals and families harmed by infectious diseases.”

A member of the National Academy of Medicine and the Council on Foreign Relations, Osterholm also served as principal investigator and task force chair for the WHO R&D Roadmap for Influenza, and principal investigator and task force chair for the WHO R&D Roadmap for Zika.

Osterholm earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Luther College and his Master of Public Health in Epidemiology, Master of Science in Environmental Health, and Ph.D. in Environmental Health from the University of Minnesota.