November 10, 2008

Blue Cross Foundation to Honor Health Leader Dr. David Wallinga

EAGAN, Minn., Nov. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation will honor David Wallinga, MD, MPA, with its 3rd Annual Upstream Health Leadership Award. Wallinga is the director of the Food and Health program at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) in Minneapolis. Founded in 1986, IATP is a non-profit organization promoting family farms, healthy communities and ecosystems around the world through research, education, science and technology, and advocacy.

"Dr. Wallinga is a leading voice for science-based public policies that better protect children from environmental pollutants, especially those that enter the food chain," said Foundation Vice President Joan Cleary. "Through research done by IATP and the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, we know that environmental contributors to childhood diseases, such as asthma and some types of cancer, cost Minnesotans some $1.569 billion per year."

Wallinga will receive the award at a luncheon on Thursday, November 20 at St. Paul's RiverCentre. Additionally, IATP will receive a $15,000 grant to support and advance its upstream work.

"Since environmental contributors to childhood diseases are largely preventable, educational efforts as well as public policies to protect the health of children by preventing exposures and pollution can provide significant health and economic benefits," said Cleary. "Dr. Wallinga's leadership points to upstream causes and solutions, such as developing policies for more rigorous testing of chemicals and products before they enter the market."

Wallinga received a medical degree from the University of Minnesota Medical School, a master's degree from Princeton University and a bachelor's degree from Dartmouth College. He authored Playing Chicken: Avoiding Arsenic in Your Meat; Poultry on Antibiotics: Hazards to Human Health; and Putting Children First: Making Pesticide Levels in Food Safer for Infants and Children. He is a co-author of In Harm's Way: Toxic Threats to Child Development and co-developer of the Pediatric Environmental Health Toolkit, endorsed by the Academy of Pediatrics and used by clinicians across the United States. He serves on the Board of Scientific Counselors to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Environmental Health.

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The Blue Cross Foundation's purpose is to look beyond health care today for ideas that create healthier communities tomorrow. By addressing key social, economic and environmental factors that determine health -- beyond genes, lifestyle and access to health care -- the foundation's work extends beyond the traditional reach of the health care system to improve community health long-term and close the health gap that affects many Minnesotans. The foundation has become the state's largest grantmaking foundation to exclusively dedicate its assets to improving health in Minnesota, awarding more than $25 million by the end of 2008.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, with headquarters in the St. Paul suburb of Eagan, was chartered in 1933 as Minnesota's first health plan and continues to carry out its charter mission today: to promote a wider, more economical and timely availability of health services for the people of Minnesota. A nonprofit, taxable organization, Blue Cross is the largest health plan based in Minnesota, covering 2.9 million members in Minnesota and nationally through its health plans or plans administered by its affiliated companies. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, headquartered in Chicago. Go to to learn more about Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota.

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation

CONTACT: Julie Lee of The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of MinnesotaFoundation, +1-651-662-6574

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