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Einstein Montefiore Lung Specialist to Receive 2011 Public Service Award for Work with 9/11 Rescue Workers

May 2, 2011 – (BRONX, NY) – In honor of his significant clinical care and groundbreaking research with rescue workers who worked at the World Trade Center following the September 11, 2001  terrorists attacks, David Prezant, M.D., will receive the 2011 Public Service Award from the American Thoracic Society (ATS). Dr. Prezant is professor of medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University and an attending physician in the pulmonary medicine division at Montefiore Medical Center, The University Hospital and Academic Medical Center for Einstein.

David Prezant, M.D.
David Prezant, M.D.
On 9/11, Dr. Prezant was one of the first physicians to respond to the World Trade Center, with responsibility for triaging the injured. From that day on, he treated and monitored the lung health of more than 16,000 rescue workers from the Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY) who were exposed to World Trade Center dust – beginning the largest longitudinal study ever reported on occupational influences on lung function. Through regular assessments of the firefighters and EMS fire department rescue workers, Dr. Prezant evaluated and documented the significant and permanent lung damage that many suffered. His research on World Trade Center Cough Syndrome and the decline of lung function was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2002 and 2010.

“David Prezant embodies the spirit of public service that the ATS honors with this award,” said Dean Schraufnagel, M.D., President of ATS. “His personal bravery on the scene at the World Trade Center, and his professional courage with documenting the effects of 9/11 exposures on the workers afterwards, are something we should all aspire to. We congratulate him and offer this award in recognition of his extraordinary work.”

ATS, a medical association of more than 15,000 members dedicated to preventing and fighting respiratory disease around the globe, gives its Public Service Award each year to individuals who have made contributions in the public health arena related to this mission.

“I am so honored to be presented with this award, which highlights the importance of not just my work, but of the field of pulmonary medicine itself, in terms of its impact on public health," said Dr. Prezant. "The selfless actions of these first responders, rescue and recovery workers helped save countless lives. They deserve anything we can do to help them monitor and regain their health. Hopefully, through the lessons we have learned, similar health consequences can be prevented at future disasters.”

This year, in no small part because of the work of Dr. Prezant and his colleagues, President Obama signed legislation to expand and extend funding so that anyone suffering from these exposures – first responders, construction workers, volunteers and community residents – is eligible to receive necessary healthcare.

Dr. Prezant, who is also the chief medical officer of the FDNY, will accept the award at the ATS’s International Conference in Denver on May 15, 2011.