The New York Academy of Medicine Celebrates 175 Years of Leadership in Improving Public Health in New York

NYAM kicks off a year of health equity-focused activities & events and releases a historical timeline of key achievements in health.

New York, NY, Jan. 11, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- This month marks 175 years since the founding of The New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM) by a group of eminent New York City physicians. Since 1847, NYAM has dedicated itself to improving the health of the people of the city, the state and beyond, leading up to its current focus on health equity. A newly released interactive timeline, available in English and Spanish, highlights key milestones of NYAM’s history and significant contributions to public health, including its role in establishing NYC public health systems and making advancements in maternal and child health, healthy aging, drug policy and other critical health issues.

“Since its founding just before the start of the Civil War, The New York Academy of Medicine has been a vital source for effective and, often, radical thought and action on public health issues that affect people in New York City and beyond,” said Judith A. Salerno, MD, MS, NYAM President. “As we celebrate 175 years and move forward, we reaffirm our commitment to data-driven and community-informed systems change, and to bold policy and program innovations to advance health equity.”

“For 175 years, NYAM has been at the forefront of improving health in New York, from its role in the establishment of the city’s health and sanitation departments and now through its current work to address the health inequities exacerbated by COVID-19,” said Wayne J. Riley, MD, MPH, MBA, MACP, NYAM Board Chair and President of SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University. “I am proud to be a part of this historic and vital organization as it continues to lead innovative research and programs to advance health for all.” 

“Congratulations to the New York Academy of Medicine for 175 years of advancing the holistic health of our city and everyone within it,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, our communities have faced far too many inequities keeping families from living their healthiest lives. From the young to the young at heart, NYAM has focused on a data-driven, community-informed approach to inform our public health community and drive change. This work is at the heart of my vision as mayor, and I look forward to continued partnership with NYAM to make that vision a reality.”

“When we look back on the milestones achieved over The New York Academy of Medicine's 175 years of public health service, we are reminded of all that can be accomplished when science and the desire for common good prevail,” said New York State Department of Health Acting Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “Ensuring health equity has never been as urgent, nor our goals more attainable, than right now as we  work to expand health access and awareness necessary for systemic change.”

“The New York Academy of Medicine has been a vital public health institution for the last 175 years, from its role in helping establish the Health Department to its current work advancing health equity across New York City,” said New York City Health Commissioner and NYAM Fellow Dr. Dave A. Chokshi. “The Health Department is proud to continue to partner with NYAM to create data-driven and community-focused approaches for keeping all New Yorkers healthy.”

NYAM’s 175th Anniversary Timeline highlights 30 historical miletones with stunning archival imagery from its library. Key dates include the following: 

  • 1847: The New York Academy of Medicine was founded by a group of New York City physicians, who established a focus on public health issues and regulating the practice of medicine.
  • 1866: New York State established the city’s Metropolitan Board of Health, following five years of Academy campaigning. Controlled by physicians, the Board of Health was a predecessor to the city’s health department and became a model for the country.
  • 1915: New York State established the Office of Chief Medical Examiner, with assistance from the Academy Committee on Public Health and following years of calls to reform the flawed system of city coroners. The new system, which exists today, proved to be efficient, trustworthy, and cost-effective.
  • 1928: The Academy formed the Committee of Twenty on Street and Outdoor Cleanliness, which spurred the creation of the NYC Department of Sanitation.
  • 1933: the Academy issued a landmark study, Maternal Mortality In New York City, which found huge gaps in perinatal care and obstetrical practice. Its recommendations included increased education and training for both professionals and the public. 
  • 1938: Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia commissioned an Academy report on marijuana usage, which became an important touchstone in the movement to decriminalize marijuana.
  • 1979: NYAM launched Growing Healthy, a school health education program. Following a five-year pilot program, in 1984 the program became the official health curriculum for New York City schools. 
  • 1994: NYAM established CUES, the Center for Urban Epidemiological Studies, which became a leader in community-based participatory research on topics including pediatric asthma, HIV/AIDS, harm reduction and vaccinating hard-to-reach populations.
  • 2007: NYAM joined the WHO Global Age-Friendly Cities Project and co-founded Age-friendly New York City with the NYC Mayor’s Office and City Council. NYAM has since worked to create age-inclusive environments throughout NYC, New York State and worldwide where older people can thrive.
  • 2020-2021: NYAM responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. Among other work, NYAM’s public deliberation researched informed New York City’s plans for equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines. 

Today, NYAM’s work is driven by the belief that everyone should have a fair chance to be healthy and live their best life, with a focus on centering community voices in its research, policy and programs. As the organization celebrates its 175th anniversary throughout 2022, it will introduce a new advocacy agenda and educational programs, expand its Community Program Advisory Board and Health Equity Scholars Network, and amplify voices from communities across NYC on the health issues that most affect them. 

NYAM’s 2022 events will include a special 175th anniversary celebration in June, a series of open houses, and a new virtual event series called Then & Now that will explore the historical roots of current and critical health issues, plus the continuation of its popular Around the Table series with expert guests discussing timely health equity topics. 

About The New York Academy of Medicine 
The New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM) tackles the barriers that prevent every individual from living a healthy life. NYAM generates the knowledge needed to change the systems that prevent people from accessing what they need to be healthy such as safe and affordable housing, healthy food, healthcare, and more. Through its high-profile programming for the general public, focused symposia for health professionals, and its base of dedicated Fellows and Members, NYAM engages the minds and hearts of those who also value advancing health equity to maximize health for all. For more information, visit and follow @nyamnyc on social media.  


Contact Data