media release

Lanphear to receive Sterling Prize in Support of Controversy

October 18, 2011

Bruce Lanphear, 778.387.3939,
Scott McLean, SFU Vancouver, 778.782.5151,

Bruce Lanphear
Photos on Flickr

Simon Fraser University professor Bruce Lanphear, whose work targets lead reduction, will receive the Nora and Ted Sterling Prize in Support of Controversy on Wednesday, Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. at SFU Vancouver’s Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue.

After a brief ceremony he will deliver his Sterling Prize lecture Crime of the Century: The failure to prevent the lead poisoning pandemic.

Since his first major study in 1994, Lanphear has been consistently fighting to reduce lead in our environment in an effort to reduce preventable illness. In 2008, Lanphear was involved with the first national study that linked childhood lead exposure with conduct disorder, while another study demonstrated that childhood lead exposure was a risk factor for criminal arrests, especially arrests for violent behaviours in young adults.

I was raised by parents who not only believed but expected you to change the world,” says Lanphear, who moved away from the study of tropical medicine and infectious disease in 1992 to focus on lead. “[Lead] was and still is a major environmental risk factor affecting children. It’s a distinct poison that causes behavioral effects in children, but there are still millions of homes that contain lead based paint. We have homes that have lead pipes that are contaminating water. There is often, at times, a failure to learn.”

Lanphear first visited SFU as a visiting professor in 2006, when he was the director of the Cincinnati Children’s Environmental Health Center at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, and joined the university's Faculty of Health Sciences in 2008.

"I didn’t actually start out wanting to be a researcher," says the epidemiologist and father of three daughters. "I wanted to make a difference to public health. I wanted to help shape policy."

The Nora and Ted Sterling award honours work that challenges complacency and provokes controversy or contributes to its understanding. Lanphear’s lecture is free, but reservations are advised, at


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