Lachlan Forrow, M.D., a physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and president emeritus of The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, has been honored by the Massachusetts Medical Society as the 2016 recipient of the Henry Ingersoll Bowditch Award for Excellence in Public Health. He will receive the award, one of the Society’s most prestigious honors, at the organization’s annual meeting May 5 in Boston.
Named after a leading figure in medicine and public health in the 19th century, the award is presented annually to a Massachusetts physician who demonstrates creativity, commendable citizenship, initiative, innovation and leadership in the public health and advocacy fields.
In nominating him for the award, his colleagues cited his leadership of several medical organizations, including The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, as well as his work in advancing state and national improvements in end-of-life care. Dr. Forrow served as Chair of the Massachusetts Expert Panel on End-of-Life Care from 2009-2011; serves as senior medical advisor to The Conversation Project, a national effort dedicated to helping people talk about their wishes for end-of-life care; and serves as Chair of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Interdisciplinary Advisory Council on Palliative Care and Quality of Life.
Responding to his award, Dr. Forrow said “It is an extraordinary honor to receive an award named for Dr. Henry Ingersoll Bowditch, one of the most accomplished and inspiring physicians in the history of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In addition to being a superb clinician, Dr. Bowditch founded the first State Board of Health in the U.S., now the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and was a tireless and uncompromising physician-activist, dedicated to the abolition of slavery and to eliminating racial and social injustices in health and health care. I am deeply grateful to the Massachusetts Medical Society, not only for this award, but even more for MMS’s own efforts to continuing Dr. Bowditch’s work, both supporting physicians in improving the care of individual patients, and also advocating for reforms in our health system and our society, so that every person in the Commonwealth can lead the healthiest possible life.”
A nationally recognized expert on end-of-life care issues, Dr. Forrow is Director of the Palliative Care Programs and Director of Ethics Programs at BIDMC and Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, positions he has held since 2000. He also serves as President Emeritus of The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship.
In addition to his hospital duties, Dr. Forrow has held a number of major administrative leadership positions at Harvard Medical School, including Coordinator of Teaching Programs in the Division of Medical Ethics and Senior Fellow of HMS’s Patient-Doctor curriculum. He is a Faculty Associate of Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics and of the HMS Center for Bioethics.
Among a host of activities with professional societies, Dr. Forrow has served as Chair of the Board of Directors and as CEO of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), 1985 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, and a member of the National Board of Directors of Physicians for Social Responsibility, IPPNW’s U.S. affiliate. After serving as a medical student as an Albert Schweitzer Fellow at the Schweitzer Hospital in Lambarene, Gabon, he joined the Board of Directors of the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship (ASF) in 1983.
In 1997 he became President of ASF, leading its U.S. Schweitzer Fellows Programs, which have supported over 3,000 young physicians and other health professionals across the country in service and leadership development programs that support them in lifelong careers of service to underserved individuals and communities. From 2010-2013, he served as President of The Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Lambarene, Gabon.
Dr. Forrow has made significant contributions to medical literature for over 25 years, with numerous publications in leading journals, including the New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of the American Medical Association, British Medical Journal, and Annals of Internal Medicine.
A graduate of Princeton University with an A.B. (summa cum laude in Philosophy), Dr. Forrow earned his M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1983. Among previous awards, he was honored with the Dean’s Lifetime Achievement Community Service Award from Harvard Medical School in 2007, with the Heart of Hospice Award from the Hospice and Palliative Care Federation of Massachusetts in 2014, and with the Katherine Swan Ginsburg Award for Humanism in Medicine by BIDMC in 2015. He and his wife Susan reside in Newton, with four adult children.