Judith Ockene named Distinguished Scientist by Society of Behavioral Medicine

Preventive health pioneer also appointed to new Worcester Commission on the Status of Women

By Sandra Gray

UMass Medical School Communications

April 24, 2014

Dr. Judith OckeneThe Society of Behavioral Medicine has named preventive and behavioral medicine pioneer Judith Ockene, PhD (right), the 2014 recipient of its Distinguished Scientist Award. She will accept the award, which recognizes outstanding achievement and contributions to the field, at SBM’s annual meeting in Philadelphia on Saturday, April 26.

Dr. Ockene, the Barbara Helen Smith Chair in Preventive and Behavioral Medicine, professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine, is a past president of SBM, and was awarded the society’s Distinguished Mentor Award in 2009. The SBM is a multidisciplinary, non-profit organization of clinicians, educators and scientists dedicated to promoting the study of the interactions of behavior with biology and the environment, and the application of that knowledge to improve the health and well being of individuals, families, communities and populations.

Ockene came to UMass Medical School in 1982 from the Harvard School of Public Health and was appointed chief of the newly established division at UMMS in 1983. She has devoted her career to the prevention of illness and disability and the promotion of health and quality of life for individuals and communities. Among numerous local, regional and national roles in which she pursued these goals, she is a principal investigator of the National Institutes of Health-funded Women’s Health Initiative and a past member of the United States Preventive Services Task Force.

“Prevention has always been front and center to me as a behavioral scientist,” said Ockene. “It is clear that we need much more collaboration between medicine and behavior to prevent and manage major public health threats like cardiovascular disease and cancer. Our division was the first to put together prevention and behavior.”

Ockene was also recently appointed a member of the Worcester County Commission on the Status of Women, one of four county and 13 metropolitan commissions that collaborate with the statewide Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women. MCSW is an independent state agency created by the legislature in 1998 to advance women of the commonwealth to full equality in all areas of life, and to promote their rights and opportunities.

“These two honors represent important areas—improving health behaviors and the status of women—on which I have focused over the span of my career,” said Ockene. “I am deeply honored to be recognized for the work that I enjoy so much.”

Related links on UMassMedNow:
Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine marks 30 years of preventing disease, improving health
Ockene on hormone therapy: In the final analysis, proceed with caution
Clinicians urged to help patients improve diet, exercise and healthy behaviors: Ockene plays key role in new advisory from American Heart Association
Drs. Glew, Grisso, Irwin and Ockene receive 2013 Chancellor’s Medals for distinction
UMass faculty study subtle gender bias in academic science careers