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This prestigious award recognizes exemplary scientific research achievements that provide major insights into the biological mechanisms relating tobacco smoking and human disease. It has been given annually since 1986 by Ochsner Health. Recipients receive a $15,000 honorarium, an award medallion, and a plaque describing their key research findings.

The award is named in honor of Dr. Alton Ochsner, co-founder of the Ochsner Clinic (now known as Ochsner Health) based in New Orleans, LA. In 1939, Dr. Ochsner published the first evidence indicating that tobacco smoking was the major cause of lung cancer. These seminal research findings led to a succession of scientific studies in the United States and worldwide resulting in the identification of the underlying causes associated with diseases related to smoking.

More information is available by emailing

2023 Award Recipients

Ken J. Kellar, Ph.D.

Ken J. Kellar, Ph.D.

Professor of Pharmacology, Georgetown University Medical Center
Dr. Kellar pioneered the study of nicotine receptors and discovered important aspects of their biology and regulation—including receptor up-regulation by chronic nicotine.

Ryan E. Hibbs, Ph.D.

Ryan E. Hibbs, Ph.D.

Professor of Neurobiology, University of California San Diego
Dr. Hibbs performed detailed crystallographic and electron microscopy studies of nicotine receptors, which studied atomic-level molecular structures and revealed previously unappreciated aspects of their function.


2023 - Claudia Henschke, PhD, MD

2021 - Peter G. Shields, MD

2021 - K. Michael Cummings, PhD, MPH


2020 - Paul J. Kenny, PhD

2019 - Paul M. Cinciripini, PhD

2019 - Edwin K. Silverman, MD, PhD

2018 - Geoffrey T. Fong, PhD

2018 - Eric A. Hoffman, PhD

2017 - Augustine M.K. Choi, MD

2016 - Michael C. Fiore, MD

2016 - Ramaswamy Govindan, MD

2015 - Sir Richard Peto, FRS

2014 - Laura J. Beirut, MD

2014 - Charles H. Hennekens, MD

2013 - Avrum Spira, MD

2012 - Jennifer R. Grandis, MD

2011 - Shabih Hasan, MD


2010 - Jerome S. Brody, MD

2010 - Kenneth E. Warner, PhD

2009 - Steven A. Belinsky, PhD

2008 - Terry Fontham, MPH, DrPH

2008 - Jonathan M. Samet, MD

2007 - Caryn Lerman, PhD

2007 - Rachel Tyndale, PhD

2006 - Ronald G. Harvey, PhD

2005 - Steven D. Shapiro, MD

2005 - Andrew M. Churg, MD, PhD

2005 - Joanne L. Wright, MD

2004 - John D. Minna, MD

2004 - Phillip A. Dennis, MD, PhD

2003 - John R. Hughes, MD

2002 - David M. Burns, MD

2002 - Joseph F. Fraumeni, MD

2001 - Dietrich Hoffmann, PhD

2001 - Stephen S. Hecht, PhD


2000 - Jill M. Siegfried, PhD

1999 - John E. Rapine, MD

1998 - David Sidransky, MD

1997 - James C. Hogg, MD

1997 - The Honorable Mike Moore*

1997 - Lonnie R. Bristow, MD*

1996 - Neal L. Benowitz, MD

1996 - Jack E. Henningfield, PhD

1996 - Professor Michael Russell

1996 - Stanton A. Glantz, PhD*

1995 - Robert M. Senior, MD

1994 - Hildegard Schüller, DVM, PhD

1993 - Curtis C. Harris, MD

1993 - Michael E. DeBakey, MD*

1992 - Murray E. Jarvik, MD, PhD

1992 - Theodore A. Slotkin, PhD

1991 - Jack Strong, MD


1990 - Gordon L. Snider, MD

1990 - Ronald G. Crystal, MD

1989 - Frank Speizer, MD

1988 - E. L. Wynder, MD

1988 - Sir Richard Doll, MD

1988 - A. Bradford Hill, PhD

1987 - Aaron Janoff, MD

1986 - Oscar Auerbach, MD

*Special Award of Recognition

The selection committee of The Alton Ochsner Award Relating Smoking and Disease is comprised of a blue ribbon panel of academicians, clinicians, and scientists. Nominations are broadly solicited from hospitals, medical schools, and leading scientists from all over the world. The process considers research or clinical contributions so important that it made a major impact on the overall scientific knowledge and medical practice linking cigarette smoking to health.

Robert M. Carey, MD, MACP
Professor of Medicine, Dean, Emeritus
University of Virginia School of Medicine, Charlottesville, VA

Aram V. Chobanian, MD
President Emeritus, Dean Emeritus, Professor of Medicine
Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA

John T. Cole, MD
Vice Chairman, Medical Specialties
Ochsner Health, New Orleans, LA

Steve Nelson, MD
Louisiana State University School of Medicine, New Orleans, LA

Richard N. Re, MD
Scientific Director
Ochsner Health, New Orleans, LA

Leonardo Seoane, MD, FACP
Executive Vice President and Chief Academic Officer, Ochsner Health
Professor of Medicine, University of Queensland School of Medicine

David Taylor, MD
Chairman, Department of Pulmonary/Critical Care Medicine
Ochsner Health, New Orleans, LA

Paul K. Whelton, MB, MD, MSc
Show Chwan Professor of Global Public Health, Department of Epidemiology
Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, New Orleans, LA