Dr. Benjamin is the NOLA.com/Times Picayune Endowed Chair of Public Health Sciences at Xavier University of Louisiana, and from 2009-2013, served as the 18th U.S. Surgeon General. She specializes in prevention policies and health promotion among individuals as well as large populations, especially concerning obesity, childhood obesity, and children’s health. She has a special interest in rural health care, health disparities among socio-economic groups, suicide, violence, and mental health.
From her early days as the founder of a rural health clinic in Alabama to her leadership role in the worldwide advancement of preventive health, Dr. Benjamin has forged a career that has been recognized by a broad spectrum of organizations and publications. In 1995, she was the first physician under the age of 40 and the first African-American woman to be elected to the American Medical Association (AMA) Board of Trustees. Other past board memberships included the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Kaiser Family Foundation Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, Catholic Health Association, and Morehouse School of Medicine.
Dr. Benjamin is a member of the Institute of Medicine and a Fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians. She has been chosen as a Kellogg National Fellow and Rockefeller Next Generation Leader.
In 1998, Dr. Benjamin was the U.S. recipient of the Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights. She received the 2000 National Caring Award, which was inspired by Mother Teresa and was recognized with the Papal honor Pro Ecclesia et Ponticificefrom Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. In 2008, she was honored with a MacArthur Genius Award Fellowship. In 2011, she was the recipient of the Chairman’s Award at the 42nd NAACP Image Awards, and in May 2013, Reader’s Digest ranked her No. 22 of the “100 Most Trusted People in America.”
Dr. Benjamin has a B.S. in chemistry from Xavier University, New Orleans, attended Morehouse School of Medicine, earned her medical degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and her MBA from Tulane University. She is the recipient of 23 honorary degrees.