Richard Jackson, MD, MPH

Professor Emeritus at the Fielding School of Public Health at the University of California, Los Angeles

Richard Joseph Jackson is Professor emeritus at the Fielding School of Public Health at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he was Department Chair in Environmental Health Sciences. A pediatrician, he has served in many leadership positions with the California Health Department, including the highest as the State Health Officer. For nine years he was Director of the CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health and received the Presidential Distinguished Service Award. In October, 2011, he was elected to the National Academy of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and since 2019 he led the NAM’s Health and Climate Interest Group. In 2022 He received the David Rall Medal from NAM for his service to the Academy.

Jackson was instrumental in establishing the California Birth Defects Monitoring Program and in the creation of state and national laws to reduce risks from pesticides, especially to farm workers and to children. While at CDC he established major environmental public health programs and instituted the federal effort to “biomonitor” chemical levels in the US population.

He has received its Hero Award from the Breast Cancer Fund; Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Public Health Law Association and from the New Partners for Smart Growth; the John Heinz Award for national leadership in the Environment; the Sedgwick Memorial Medal, the highest award of the American Public Health Association for Distinguished Service.  In 2015 he received the Henry Hope Reed Award for his contributions to Architecture and Planning. 

Jackson is from Newark NJ.  When he was age 3, his World War 2 fighter pilot father died of polio. Later in life, he realized how much this event shaped his career and life choices. He and his spouse, Joan Guilford, live in Berkeley, California, and have three adult children and seven grandchildren.