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Penn Nursing Professor Wins Prestigious Award for Book about Children and Drug Safety

Cynthia Connolly’s, PhD, RN, FAAN, book, Children and Drug Safety: Balancing Risk and Protection in Twentieth Century America, just received the distinguished Arthur J. Viseltear Prize. This award is given each year by the American Public Health Association (APHA) to a historian who has made outstanding contributions to the history of public health, either through a body of scholarship or through a recent book (published within the previous two years).

The APHA selection committee chose to honor Connolly’s book for its outstanding and deeply insightful historical research and original contribution to science policy.  They felt the book’s focus on the politics of pediatric drug safety and the making of invasive drug markets and consumers addresses a critical gap in public health histories of childhood and contributes to ongoing debates in the US on prescriptions and the role of experts. Connolly will receive the award at the APHA annual meeting in San Diego, California in November 2018.

“My research is situated at the junctures of history, public health policy, and clinical practice.  I am particularly proud to receive this award from APHA because public health and social justice issues are so inextricably intertwined,” said Connolly, the Rosemarie B. Greco Term Endowed Associate Professorship in Advocacy, an Associate Professor in Penn Nursing’s Department of Family & Community Health, Associate Director of the Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing, Co-Faculty Director at the Field Center for Children’s Policy, Practice, and Research, and a Senior Fellow at Penn’s Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics.

Children and Drug Safety: Balancing Risk and Protection in Twentieth Century America traces the development, use, and marketing of drugs for children in the twentieth century, a history that sits at the interface of the state, business, health care providers, parents, and children. This book illuminates the historical dimension of a clinical and policy issue with great contemporary significance—many of the drugs administered to children today have never been tested for safety and efficacy in the pediatric population.
 
Each chapter of the book engages with major turning points in pediatric drug development; themes of children’s risk, rights, protection and the evolving context of childhood; child-rearing; and family life in ways freighted with nuances of race, class, and gender. It charts the numerous attempts by Congress, the Food and Drug Administration, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and leading pediatric pharmacologists, scientists, clinicians, and parents to address a situation that all found untenable. 

“Nowhere are the successes—and failures—of public health so visible as child well-being. Historical research reminds us that was as true in the past as it is in the present,” said Connolly.

Children and Drug Safety: Balancing Risk and Protection in Twentieth Century America was published in April 2018 by Rutgers University Press.