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University at Albany's Kamiar Alaei to Receive Ellis Island Medal of Honor  

Kamiar Alaei, M.D., founding director of the Global Institute for Health and Human Rights at the University at Albany.

ALBANY, N.Y. (May 8, 2015) -- Kamiar Alaei, M.D., the founding director of the Global Institute for Health and Human Rights at the University at Albany, will be awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor on Saturday, May 9, at a ceremony at Ellis Island.
Each year, about 100 honorees are recognized with this award, given by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations (NECO), chaired by Nasser J. Kazeminy. In addition to Alaei, this year’s recipients include Associate Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who retired from the Supreme Court in 2006; Yankee baseball legend Mariano Rivera; and journalist Meredith Vieira.

“I am so grateful with how this nation has treated the immigrant population by providing opportunities including education and research while keeping immigrants focused on pursuing their global dreams,” said Dr. Alaei. “As an Iranian American, I am humbled to be recognized with this prestigious medal and I want to share my gratitude with the University at Albany community who have always been supportive of me, my family, and the goals of the Global Institute for Health and Human Rights, which is promoting a human rights-based approach to health for the most disadvantaged populations in the world.”

Dr. Alaei’s extensive experience in global health policy and international human rights law allows him to focus on the intersections between international health and international law, while remaining sensitive to the needs and realities of vulnerable target groups, including the rights of prisoners.

He is a public service professor in the department of public administration and policy. He and his brother Arash co-founded the first “Triangular Clinic” for three target groups in Iran (drug users, HIV patients, and STD cases), which was documented by the United Nations/World Health Organization as a Best Practice model.

The brothers received the Heinz R. Pagels Human Rights of Scientists Award from the New York Academy of Science in 2009, the Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights by the Global Health Council in June 2011, and the first award for leadership in Health and Human Rights by PAHO/WHO in December 2011. They also received the inaugural Elizabeth Taylor Award during the opening ceremonies of the 2012 AIDS conference in recognition of their efforts to advocate for human rights in the field of HIV.

Kamiar Alaei received his Medical Doctorate (M.D.) from Isfahan Medical University and his Master of Public Health (M.P.H.) in epidemiology from Tehran Medical University – two of the top universities in Iran – a Master of Science in International Health from Harvard University, and his doctoral degree in Health Policy and Management from the University at Albany. He is currently completing a degree in International Human Rights Law at the University of Oxford.

The Medal recognizes individuals who have made it their mission to share with those less fortunate their wealth of knowledge, indomitable courage, boundless compassion, unique talents and selfless generosity; all while maintaining the traditions of their ethnic heritage as they uphold the ideals and spirit of America.

NECO is dedicated to the maintenance and restoration of America’s greatest symbol of its immigrant history, Ellis Island. Since the Medal was founded in 1986, NECO has honored distinguished and diverse Americans including: six Presidents of the United States; Nobel Prize recipient Elie Wiesel, Generals Norman Schwarzkopf and Colin Powell, Hillary Clinton, Sen. John McCain, Muhammad Ali, Frank Sinatra, Barbara Walters, Mike Wallace, Quincy Jones, and Mia Farrow.

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