Because of his contributions to the advancement of public health and human rights – particularly the prevention of HIV/AIDS – Dr. Christopher C. Beyrer ’81 will be the 36th recipient of the Hobart College Alumni Association’s highest honor.
Beyrer, an internationally renowned expert on AIDS, is currently a professor at Johns Hopkins University, with joint appointments in Epidemiology, International Health, and Health, Behavior and Society. He is the founding director of the Center for Public Health and Human Rights at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; director of the Johns Hopkins University Fogarty AIDS International Training and Research Program; and senior scientific liaison and chair of the Injecting Drug Use Working Group of the HIV Vaccine Trials Network.
“The Honors Committee of the Alumni Council had several outstanding candidates to choose from – all of whom were worthy of recognition. Chris, however, rose to the top of our list as truly outstanding,” says Hobart Alumni Association President James “JB” Robinson ’96. “It was clear to the Council that honoring him was not a matter of if, but rather when. We are very excited to have the opportunity to honor Chris.”
Born in Berne, Switzerland, and raised on Long Island, Beyrer followed his father – Dr. Charles R. Beyrer ’56 – to Hobart. The younger Beyrer majored in history, graduated cum laude and was elected Phi Beta Kappa. After spending time abroad, he returned to the United States and graduated from medical school at SUNY Downstate in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he first encountered AIDS among the large Haitian population as well as the city’s gay population. This period was followed by years of work in public health research and fieldwork, particularly in Thailand and Southeast Asia.
Beyrer is the author of more than 190 papers and the author or editor of six books. He has testified before the Senate and House of Representatives regarding HIV, AIDS and human rights, and has served as a consultant with organizations including the National Institutes of Health, the World Bank, the World Health Organization and the Open Society Foundations. He serves on the Scientific Advisory Board for the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and is president-elect of the International AIDS Society, the world’s largest body of HIV professionals.
Beyrer’s life of consequence has made a difference for thousands, if not millions, of people across the globe, both those living with HIV/AIDS and those who, thanks to his scholarship, leadership and advocacy, will never experience the disease.
“Dr. Beyrer is a shining example of the many alumni who have led, and are leading, lives of consequence,” says Assistant Vice President for Alumni Relations and Annual Giving Jared Weeden ’91. “While his recognition is certainly an honor for him, this occasion is also a celebration of our alma mater and the many members of the HWS community who have contributed to the successes of our graduates.”
To be presented this year on Wednesday, Dec. 18, in Washington, D.C., the Hobart Medal of Excellence is awarded to an alumnus who, by reason of outstanding accomplishments in his particular business, profession or community service, has brought honor and distinction to his alma mater.