PRESS RELEASE: Colorado physician Lilia Cervantes wins national award for social responsibility

BOSTON, MA – Lilia Cervantes, MD, has been named the winner of the 2024 Bernard Lown Award for Social Responsibility and its $25,000 prize for her exceptional work advancing health equity and expanding access to care for undocumented immigrants. Dr. Cervantes is the Director of Immigrant Health and a professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

The award is given annually by the Lown Institute, an independent healthcare think tank, to lift up the voices of extraordinary clinicians dedicating their time, skills, and energy to tackle the most important health issues of our time. To be eligible for the award, nominees must be U.S. clinicians aged 45 or younger and stand out for their bold leadership in social justice, environmentalism, global peace, or other humanitarian efforts.

“Dr. Cervantes’ courage to speak up for immigrant health has saved lives and prevented much unnecessary suffering,” said Vikas Saini, MD, president of the Lown Institute. “We need more clinicians like her, who are unafraid to go beyond the clinic’s walls and challenge the status quo when needed.”

REGISTER: 2024 BLASR Ceremony & Dinner
Join us on Thursday, June 6, in Boston, MA, as we celebrate Dr. Lilia Cervantes, winner of this year’s Bernard Lown Award for Social Responsibility.

Dr. Cervantes’ many accomplishments in social responsibility include: 

  • Spearheading efforts that led Colorado to change their Medicaid payment rules, gaining undocumented individuals with kidney failure access to life-saving dialysis treatment. Her continued advocacy led Colorado to expand Medicaid rules to cover additional chronic conditions and inspired other states to take similar measures.
  • Working with community-based organizations during the pandemic to expand access to COVID-19 outpatient care for uninsured immigrants as well as reduce misinformation and close disparities in COVID-19 outcomes in the Latino/a/x community in Denver. 
  • Speaking out about structural racism and inequities in healthcare access and the importance of advocacy. She has been a speaker at over 80 events and has been interviewed by NPR, CNN, and other media. 
  • Developing a successful pre-health mentorship pipeline program for minoritized students, to increase opportunities for students of all backgrounds and to diversify the healthcare workforce.

“When I reflect on the various health justice issues I’ve worked to address, a recurring theme emerges—each one has sparked moral distress within me, compelling me to recognize my responsibility, both as a clinician and member of the community, to enact change,” said Dr. Cervantes. “I am compelled to remain engaged; walking away is not an option.”

The award is named for Dr. Bernard Lown, a pioneering cardiologist, humanitarian, and founder of the Lown Institute. The 2024 Bernard Lown Award Ceremony will be held June 6th on the eve of what would have been Dr. Lown’s 103rd birthday. Tickets are available for those interested in attending the Boston event.


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