PRESS RELEASE: Boston neurologist earns national award for health justice leadership

Altaf Saadi, MD, MSc, advocate for immigrant health justice, receives 2023 Bernard Lown Award for Social Responsibility

BOSTON, MA – Dr. Altaf Saadi has been named the winner of the 2023 Bernard Lown Award for Social Responsibility for her outstanding work as a health justice advocate for immigrants and others impacted by trauma. Dr. Saadi is a neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, assistant professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, and associate director of the MGH Asylum Clinic.

“Dr. Saadi is clearly unafraid to raise her voice and demand justice wherever it is needed, especially when the health of refugees is at stake,” said Vikas Saini, MD, president of the Lown Institute. “Her vision and bravery set an inspiring example for others to follow.” 

The Lown Institute, a healthcare think tank, grants this award annually in memory of their founder, the late Dr. Bernard Lown. Dr. Lown was one of the most distinguished physicians of the 20th century, best known for developing the defibrillator and receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. To be eligible for the award, nominees must be US clinicians age 45 or younger and stand out for their bold leadership in social justice, environmentalism, global peace, or other humanitarian efforts. The award, including a $25,000 prize, will be presented at an event on June 7.

“It is an honor to use my knowledge, passion, and purpose in medicine to speak out against injustice,” said Dr. Altaf Saadi. “Dr. Lown taught us to never whisper in the presence of wrong, and I hope to always live by that principle.”

Dr. Saadi’s many accomplishments in social responsibility include: 

  • Helping hundreds of immigrants gain asylum and other forms of humanitarian relief through her volunteer work and leadership with the Physicians for Human Rights Asylum Network and MGH Asylum Clinic;
  • Creating “Doctors For Immigrants,” a research-based website that provides resources for healthcare institutions to be sanctuaries for immigrants;
  • Calling attention to abuse and poor conditions in immigration prisons as a medical expert for human rights organizations;  
  • Speaking out on the myth of “excited delirium” and the dangers of neck restraints by law enforcement in medical and popular media.

Dr. Saadi was selected by a committee convened by the Lown Institute, including leaders from the American Medical Association, the National Medical Association, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and other groups focused on improving America’s health.

The Bernard Lown Award Ceremony will be held June 7th at Branch Line in Watertown, MA. Visit the Lown Institute website to learn more about Dr. Saadi


About the Lown Institute

Founded in 1973 by Nobel Peace Prize winner Bernard Lown, MD, developer of the defibrillator and cardioverter, the Lown Institute believes that a radically better system of health is possible and generates bold ideas towards that goal. The Lown Hospitals Index for Social Responsibility is a signature project of the Institute and features measures never used before like racial inclusivity, avoidance of overuse, and pay equity.


Aaron Toleos
(978) 821-4620