Hugh Tilson, MD, DrPH, MPH
Preventive Medicine Physician
Dr. Hugh Tilson’s distinguished career as a preventive medicine physician spans more than 45 years and includes 15 years each in public service, the multi-national pharmaceutical industry, and academia.
Dr. Tilson’s government service includes appointments as Army Preventive Medicine Officer, City/County Public Health Officer and Human Services Director for Multnomah County in Portland, Oregon, and State Public Health Director for North Carolina. His pioneering work in Portland, Oregon’s “Project Health” is widely cited as a prototype for national health care financing under a “managed competition” model.
During his 15 years with the Wellcome Foundation (Burroughs Wellcome, now GSK) as a pharmacoepidemiologist, Dr. Tilson was widely recognized for his innovative work applying epidemiologic approaches to assure the safe use of acyclovir and zidovudine and advancing public health concepts for the industry. Upon his retirement from GSK in 1996, he joined the clinical faculty of the University of North Carolina School of Public Health in Chapel Hill, where he completed more than 15 years as an academic, researcher, and consultant in public health and therapeutics. He served on the original 1988 Institute of Medicine (IOM) committee that authored the report “The Future of Public Health,” and worked on many other IOM projects. He is a Lifetime National Associate of the National Academies of Science.
Dr. Tilson has continued his public health work as a member of the adjunct faculties at the University of North Carolina, Duke University, and the Muskie School in Portland, Maine. He is credited for helping to create the Sagadahoc County (Bath) Maine Board of Health, Maine’s first county-based public health agency, for which he served as County Health Officer from 2003 to 2013.
Dr. Tilson has been a leader in national and local preventive medicine affairs since becoming Board Certified in Preventive Medicine (GPM/PH) in 1973. He was a member of the Board of Regents of the American College of Preventive Medicine (ACPM) from 1990-1994, and served as ACPM president from 1994-1996. In 2011 he received ACPM’s highest honor, the Ron Davis Award for Distinguished Service. From 1987 to 1996 he served on the American Board of Preventive Medicine, including serving as its vice chair from 1992 to 1996. From 2010 to 2012, he served as Senior Advisor for Public Health Workforce to the Bureau of Health Professions at the Health Resources and Services Administration.
Dr. Tilson’s leadership in preventive medicine, with a special expertise in therapeutics and the safety of medications, has continued throughout his 10-year chairmanship (1999 to 2009) of the National Steering Committee for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s Centers for Education and Research on Therapeutics, and his recent election to the Board of Directors of Public Responsibility in Medicine & Research (PRIM&R). He was founding co-president of the International Society for Pharmacoepidemiology and a founding member of the Academy of Pharmaceutical Physicians and Investigators. He has received the highest honors from each, and continues as a lifetime honorary member of each.
A long-time champion of public health accreditation, Dr. Tilson was elected to the PHAB Board of Directors in 2009. He is a 1964 graduate of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, and a 1972 graduate of the Harvard School of Public Health.