Bell Tower of Fame Award to Dr James Hanson

 International pioneer and leader in the fields of birth defects and genetics
Dr. James W. Hanson
Dr. James W. Hanson

Dr James W. Hanson pledged that no child should ever again have to struggle, suffer, and endure like his father did. It was his father’s crippled feet that inspired him throughout a professional career that spanned 43 years in pediatrics, medical genetics, birth defects, public policy and service.  During the past 20 years, his pioneering research and public policy at the national and international levels has received national acclaim and as a result he becomes the 2014 Bell Tower of Fame Award recipient.

The Bell Tower of Fame Award is presented annually to a person who during some part of his or her life lived in Greene County and has received international, national or state recognition for professional and/or civic efforts, thus bringing great pride to Greene County.

Dr Hanson, a native son of Jefferson and a graduate of Jefferson High School, will be presented his award at the Bell Tower Festival’s Opening Ceremonies on the Tower Plaza Friday, June 13, at 7 pm. A public reception for him will be held in the rotunda of the Greene County courthouse following the ceremony until 8:30 pm.

Dr Hanson is a graduate of the University of Iowa and completed a pediatrics residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD.  He was a birth defects epidemiologist at the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a fellow at the University of Washington where he contributed to landmark studies on how environmental exposures can lead to birth defects.  He became a faculty member and director of the University of Iowa’s medical genetics division and during his 15-year tenure, established and enhanced model programs for treating, understanding, and preventing birth defects and genetic disorders.

In 1991, he joined the staff of United States Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa as the recipient of a Kennedy Foundation Fellowship in Public Policy.  He then served in leadership roles with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the very distinguished National Institutes of Health, where he was instrumental in organizing directives in national newborn screening research, a national cancer genetics research network, and a number of national and international research programs related to genetics, birth defects and maternal/child health.

In 2012 he retired as director of the Center for Developmental Biology and Perinatal Medicine at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, MD.

He is the recipient of the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine’s Distinguished Alumni Award.

He joins his father, Judge William C. Hanson, as a Bell Tower of Fame honoree.

He and his wife, Dr. Elizabeth Thomson, reside in Jefferson.  They have four grown children: Dr. Catherine Balthazar, John Hanson, Dr. David Hanson, and Jennifer Schebel.

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