Pittsburgh Celebrates “Caroline Acker Day”Independence Day was extra special this year. The City of Pittsburgh declared July 4, 2015 “Dr. Caroline Acker Day” to recognize the longtime Carnegie Mellon University history professor for her outstanding scholarship and many contributions to the Pittsburgh community.
“Dr. Acker worked tirelessly at Prevention Point Pittsburgh to improve the health of City and County residents by reducing cases of HIV, hepatitis and other blood-borne illnesses, broadening the range of prevention services available to IV drug users and increasing awareness of their health needs,” Gilman said.
He continued, “She’s also been a constant booster of both our city and region with a citizen’s dedication, an activist’s commitment, and a scholar’s interest in its people, its history and its future. I couldn’t be prouder of her immense accomplishments and her innumerable contributions to our city and region.”
Acker has been on the CMU faculty since 1994 and will retire at the end of the next academic year. She is a historian of medicine and public health with a research focus on drug policy, drug use, needle exchange, harm reduction and the intersection of drug use and sexually transmitted diseases. In addition to teaching and mentoring countless undergraduate and graduate students over the pas 22 years, she served as head of the Department of History in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences from 2011-2015.
In 1995, Acker co-founded Prevention Point Pittsburgh (PPP), a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing health services to injection drug users. PPP sponsors a needle exchange program aimed at reducing HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C and other blood-borne infections in injection drug users. Thanks to these efforts, more than 21,000 Allegheny County residents have received disease prevention, health promotion and overdose prevention services.
For this work, Acker received the 2008 Benjamin Rush Individual Public Health Award from the Allegheny County Medical Society. Established in 1947, this award honors a layperson, who has made an outstanding contribution to the betterment, health and welfare of citizens in Allegheny County.
By Shilo Rea