Dartmouth College Honors Stephen J. Atwood, DC’68, DMS’70
Stephen J. Atwood, DC'68, DMS'70, is shown at the Martin Luther King Social Justice Awards cerermony in January with his son, Thomas, a member of the Dartmouth class of 2008.
Dartmouth’s Annual Martin Luther King Social Justice Awards honor members of the Dartmouth community for their contributions to civil rights, education, public health, environmental justice, and social justice. At this year’s awards ceremony in January, Dr. Stephen J. Atwood was honored with the Lester B. Granger ’18 Award for Lifetime Achievement, for his work in international public health.
Atwood has worked in international public health for more than 20 years, and currently serves as UNICEF’s regional advisor for health and nutrition in East Asia and the Pacific. Among other assignments to urgent areas, he coordinated massive public health and recovery operations in Indonesia in the wake of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami.
Atwood graduated from Dartmouth College in 1968 with a degree in English literature and from Dartmouth Medical School in 1970 with a Bachelor of Medical Science degree. He received his M.D. from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 1972 and went on to complete his internship and residency at the Bronx Municipal Hospital Center, where he was chief resident in pediatrics and subsequently director of pediatric emergency services.
From 1978 to 1986, Atwood served as associate professor of clinical pediatrics at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and as director of the Division of Medical Education, Department of Pediatrics. In that capacity, he directed the department’s internship and residency program and was the primary instructor of medical students in pediatrics. Atwood began his international public health work in 1986, when he joined CARE International in India as senior primary health care advisor and director of CARE’s new Primary Health Care Unit, a post in which he served until 1994. Through CARE, he worked closely with families in remote villages of the country as well as in urban slums.
He next worked for seven years in UNICEF’s largest country office—the India Country Office in New Delhi—managing UNICEF’s health programs there as chief of its health section. Through this position, Atwood served an integral role in India’s massive polio eradication effort aimed at immunizing every child under age five.
In 2001, Atwood became the regional advisor for health and nutrition in the UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office in Bangkok. In that capacity, he works with UNICEF staff in the countries of the region—including Cambodia, China, North Korea, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Pacific Island Nations, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Thailand, Timor Leste, and Vietnam—to improve the impact of programs that benefit women and children with a focus on equity and children’s rights to access quality health care. He also leads strategic planning for regional initiatives to reduce maternal mortality; reduce under-nutrition in women and children; strengthen child survival interventions including neonatal care, expanded immunization programs, prevention and treatment of malaria, and control of diarrheal diseases and acute respiratory infections; improve water quality, water security, sanitation, and public and private hygiene; reduce maternal to child transmission of HIV/AIDS; enhance emergency preparedness and response in health and nutrition; and address economic and social causes of poor health and nutrition.
Shortly after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, Atwood spent six months on mission to Banda Aceh, Indonesia, as UNICEF Indonesia’s director of emergency operations. In 2006 he served as advisor to UNICEF Timor Leste in Dili responding to the conflict in that country. Atwood has published a number of articles as well as a book for parents on children’s nutrition. In 2003 he was honored with the Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award by the Alumni Association of Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Yeshiva University.
Atwood lives in Bangkok with his wife, Carmen. His older son, Nicholas, is working in Shanghai; daughter Kelsey is a senior at Barnard College, Columbia University; and her twin brother, Thomas, is member of Dartmouth’s class of 2008.