Dr. James Phillips Honored with Robert J. Lapham Award

May 28, 2021

James Phillips, PhD, Professor Emeritus in the Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health at Columbia Mailman School, received the Robert J. Lapham Award of the Population Association of America. The Award recognizes an individual who has applied  demographic knowledge to policy issues that contribute to the population profession. Over his 50 year career, Phillips has enacted long lasting positive change that has improved both policies and the human conditions in some of the most disadvantaged countries throughout the world. 

Phillips was recognized as a gifted researcher who has over 200 peer reviewed publications. He has also spent his career designing and implementing rigorous intervention experiments to build functional health systems. Phillips has played central roles in the development of research and intervention networks, and has mentored numerous young demographers from Asia, Africa and around the globe.

Phillips has used his vast demographic knowledge to improve the living conditions in numerous low income countries. In Bangladesh, his work has resulted in a dramatic reduction of total fertility. In Ghana, his policy development research established Ghana’s Community-based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) initiative, which led to family planning and primary care becoming accessible to women and men throughout rural Ghana. His work in Ghana has led to similar initiatives in Ethiopia, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Kenya and Tanzania.

Vice President of the Population Council, Ann Blanc remarked: “His many admiring colleagues describe him as exemplifying the best of our profession: passionate, brilliant, generous of his time, unassuming and acting always with utmost integrity, all seasoned by a healthy dose of humor.”

Phillips was nominated for the award by professor Tom LeGrand, President of the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population and Professor, University of Montreal. The award was announced at the Conference of the Population Association of America (PAA) in May.