Brownson Installed as Steven H. and Susan U. Lipstein Distinguished Professor

Alumni; Faculty; Public Health

Ross C. Brownson has been installed as the Steven H. and Susan U. Lipstein Distinguished Professor at Washington University in St. Louis. A ceremony was held March 26 in the Emerson Auditorium in Knight Hall.

Brownson is an international leader in public health and the prevention of chronic disease – a “leader among leaders,” said Washington University Chancellor Mark Wrighton at the ceremony. His research focuses on the translation of evidence to public health practice and policy, focusing on environmental and policy determinants of physical activity and obesity. As the director of the Prevention Research Center at the Brown School, Brownson is keenly interested in building the next generation of practitioners and researchers through evidence-informed mentoring.

“You’ve made a huge difference in the field,” said Mary M. McKay, Neidorff Family and Centene Corporation Dean of the Brown School, in introducing Brownson.

Brownson is the first to hold the new professorship, which is endowed by BJC HealthCare and named in honor of Steven Lipstein, the former President and Chief Executive Officer of BJC; and his wife, Susan Lipstein, a pediatric physician assistant and former parent educator with Parents as Teachers.

“A professor in public health is a high calling,” Steven Lipstein said in remarks at the ceremony.  He said the naming of Brownson to the professorship “warms our hearts and makes us smile.”

Brownson’s address, “Why is Public Health the One Good Infectious Disease?” outlined major advances in the field that are now the norm, like smoke-free workplaces, automobile safety features and clean water. 

“When public health is at its best, it is invisible and so too often taken for granted,” he said. He said health disparities must be addressed by focusing on the social determinants of health, such as food insecurity and gun violence. He called the 17-year gap between research findings and putting them into practice “a long, leaky pipeline” and suggested that using a model based on the same factors that spread disease might be used to speed the dissemination of successful public-health strategies.

“Public health gets in your blood and you don’t want to be cured,” he concluded.

Brownson joined Washington University in 2008 and now serves on the faculty at the Brown School and at the Department of Surgery (Division of Public Health Sciences) within the School of Medicine. He directs the Prevention Research Center, which focuses on translational research aimed at reducing chronic disease risk and increasing health equity in a range of public health, community, and policy settings. 

He is the author of 9 books and over 500 peer-reviewed articles. His books include Chronic Disease Epidemiology and Control, Applied Epidemiology, Evidence-Based Public Health, and Dissemination and Implementation Research in Health: Translating Science to Practice. He is an associate editor of the Annual Review of Public Health, and on the editorial board of six other journals. 

Brownson’s many awards include the Abraham Lilienfeld Award for outstanding contributions in teaching and mentoring and the Award for Excellence (both from the American Public Health Association) and the Charles C. Shepard Science Award (the highest award for science, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Dr. Brownson has been repeatedly named by Thompson Reuters as one of the world’s most influential scientific minds. 

Steven and Susan Lipstein

Steven and Susan Lipstein moved to St. Louis in 2000, when Steve became president and CEO of BJC HealthCare.

Steve began his career at Johns Hopkins Hospital, and over the ensuing years, he assumed positions of increasing responsibility at Johns Hopkins and the University of Chicago Hospitals before coming to BJC.  Susan was certified as a Child Health Associate, and licensed as a pediatric physician assistant. Her career began at Johns Hopkins Hospital, where she and Steve met. She entered private practice in general pediatrics in Chicago and became a parent educator with Parents as Teachers in the Clayton School District.

For almost four decades, Steve and Susan have committed both their professional careers and their community service activities to health care, public education, and early childhood development to improve access and opportunity, especially for those living with the disadvantages of poverty.

They now reside primarily in Colorado, near their children.

BJC HealthCare

One of the largest nonprofit health care organizations in the United States, BJC HealthCare is focused on delivering health care services to residents primarily in the greater St. Louis, southern Illinois and mid-Missouri regions. BJC serves the health care needs of urban, suburban and rural communities and includes 15 hospitals and multiple community health locations. Its services include inpatient and outpatient care, primary care, community health and wellness, workplace health, home health, community mental health, rehabilitation, long term care and  hospice.

As a nonprofit health care organization, BJC is the largest provider of charity care, unreimbursed care and community benefit in Missouri, providing more than $900 million in free or reduced medical care, education of health professionals, medical research funding and community outreach programs.

BJC was created in June 1993 with the merger of Barnes-Jewish Inc. an affiliation between Barnes Hospital and The Jewish Hospital of St. Louis, and Christian Health Services.