Joseph Mamlin receives IU President's Medal for 'visionary' public health accomplishments in Kenya

Oct. 29, 2013


INDIANAPOLIS -- Dr. Joseph Mamlin, a founding member of a unique global health partnership in Kenya, was presented with the President’s Medal for Excellence by Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie at the 2013 Kenya Gala on Oct. 26.

“In gratitude for all that you have done to leverage the power and expertise of an academic health center in the interest of global health, I am privileged and honored to present you with the President’s Medal for Excellence,” McRobbie said to Mamlin, whom he called “one of the visionary founders of the IU-Moi partnership.”

The President's Medal for Excellence is the highest honor an IU president can bestow.

For the past 20 years, IU School of Medicine and Kenya’s Moi University School of Medicine students, residents and faculty have participated in an exchange program of sorts to enhance their understanding of medicine and improve their ability to care for patients. This partnership was the brainchild of Mamlin and IU colleagues, who first visited Eldoret, Kenya, in the late 1980s to establish the partnership.

The program, now known as AMPATH -- the Academic Model Providing Access to Healthcare -- has grown to include a consortium of North American academic institutions led by the IU School of Medicine. The Indianapolis community has embraced IU’s work with AMPATH through the involvement of churches and faith groups, the legal community, and thousands of volunteers and supporters. 

Mamlin, a professor emeritus of medicine at IU, was chief of medicine at what was then Wishard Memorial Hospital, where he spearheaded the creation of a unique neighborhood-centered health care system in Indianapolis. That experience served Mamlin well as the IU-Kenyan partnership flourished. 

Mamlin served as team leader in the IU-Kenya partnership during the mid-1990s. In 2000, when Mamlin retired from the IU School of Medicine, he and his wife, Sarah Ellen, moved to Kenya, where he served as AMPATH’s field director until 2012, when he was named field director for clinical services. During those years, the AIDS epidemic became devastating in sub-Saharan Africa, and Mamlin and his colleagues determined that they must be proactive to save lives, provide food and shelter, and educate the public about a disease that carried a devastating stigma.

Today AMPATH has enrolled more than 160,000 HIV-positive adults and children in the program and has established an extensive network of other services for HIV patients and their families, as well as set up multiple clinics to treat Kenyans' other health care needs.

“Joe would probably be the first to point out that AMPATH’s success has been made possible by many people working in partnership,” McRobbie said in presenting Mamlin the President's Medal. “But it is also true that his vision, his integrity, his leadership over many years and his dedicated hard work during what might have been a leisurely retirement have allowed the program to flourish. Those same qualities have also inspired countless others to dedicate themselves to AMPATH’s success.”

The President's Medal for Excellence recognizes, among other criteria, distinction in public service, service to IU, and extraordinary merit and achievement in the arts, humanities, sciences, education and industry. The medal itself is a reproduction in silver of the symbolic jewel of office worn by IU's president at ceremonial occasions