Unsung Heroes' Award | American Lung Association

Unsung Heroes' Award

2017 C. Everett Koop Unsung Heroes Award

Bruce Christiansen, PhD


Bruce Christiansen, PhD has worked tirelessly to serve the most vulnerable of smokers, including those who are homeless, struggle with addiction or mental-health issues, live in an inner-city environment, or are prisoners waiting to be released. Studies show these disparity groups smoke at much higher rates than the overall population. Dr. Christiansen has written grants, conducted research, and developed innovative outreach programs. Part of that innovation has been to move beyond just healthcare, including outreach efforts directly to smokers, and to the community workers and corrections professionals who often serve them. Most of all, Dr. Christiansen combines his research, outreach, and psychiatric expertise with a heart of gold to make these efforts his passion.

Dr. Christiansen has spent his career working with the underserved populations. For example, he founded the ZIP Code Project, a community-based research program designed to increase the use of evidenced-based quit-tobacco treatments among individuals living in the two most impoverished Milwaukee inner-city ZIP code areas. He collaborated with the local Salvation Army and Vincent Family Resource Center to hire surveyors from the community to go door to door, gather residents' ideas about smoking, educate them about smoking and quitting, and offer resources to help them and their loved ones to quit. Dr. Christiansen and others held community events with raffles and partnered on health events.

Dr. Christiansen has also done extensive work with behavioral health patients by managing the Wisconsin Nicotine Treatment and Integration Program. This program works to integrate tobacco cessation treatment into the standard services of healthcare providers and residential programs in Wisconsin. In addition to this work, Dr. Christiansen has worked with the Wisconsin Department of Corrections to help inmates stay smoke-free following their release from prison.

Dr. Christiansen has not only helped those with the least advantages to recover from their addiction to smoking, but also has empowered those who want to help them succeed.

View more American Lung Association awards.

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