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The Helaine and Sidney Lerner Professorship

Bloomberg School of Public Health

Established in 2014 by Helaine and Sidney Lerner

SIDNEY and HELAINE LERNER have been longtime friends of the Bloomberg School of Public Health. They are major supporters of the Center for a Livable Future and the Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing.

Helaine Lerner founded GRACE Communications Foundation to create awareness of the problems with our industrial food system and to foster collaboration between NGO, academic and philanthropic partners to find innovative solutions.

Sidney Lerner (deceased) was a retired advertising executive who pioneered the popular Meatless Monday and Healthy Monday campaigns at the Bloomberg School.

In November 2014, they established the Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion of which the Lerner Professor is director. The Center is committed to the development, evaluation, and dissemination of innovative and effective health promotion interventions that address key health issues, as well as health promotion and advocacy training activities for faculty and students.



Held by Sara Benjamin Neelon

SARA BENJAMIN NEELON, PhD, MPH, RD, is the inaugural holder of The Helaine and Sidney Lerner Professorship and director of the Johns Hopkins Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion in the Department of Health, Behavior and Society. Dr. Benjamin Neelon is a child nutritionist trained in dietary intervention research. Her focus is on policy and environmental approaches to obesity prevention in vulnerable populations. Her studies target young children and women during pregnancy, with several focusing on child care and school environments. She has advanced training in pediatric and public health nutrition and experience coordinating epidemiologic and community-based intervention studies. Her current research pertains to early childhood obesity prevention and community and family health promotion in the Southeastern United States. She also works internationally, recently completing a study in Kenya examining the effect of school-based gardens on children’s dietary intake, and another in Mexico examining physical activity and outdoor play in young children. In addition, she has led a project in which she graded all the states in the nation in terms of their obesity and exercise policies. Dr. Benjamin Neelon completed a PhD and MPH at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School. She is an Honorary Senior Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Diet and Activity Research at the University of Cambridge.