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Remembering Dr. Pamela Clark (1946 – 2024)

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Dr. Pamela Clark, 1946 – 2024.

 Pamela I. Clark, Ph.D., a research professor emerita in the University of Maryland School of Public Health’s Department of Behavioral and Community Health, died on May 16 at the age of 77 at home. 

“We knew her as a sharp, witty, even fiery ambassador of our mission,” School of Public Health Dean Boris Lushniak said of Dr. Clark. “She was a brilliant mentor to our students and fellow faculty members, as well as incredibly passionate about students' experiences in global health.” 

Dr. Clark, who also directed UMD’s Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science, is best known for her decades-long research on tobacco control and harm reduction. A former nurse, she dove into all angles of the issue, exploring how young people access and adopt tobacco, community interventions, the chemistry behind cigarette smoke, and even the insidious advertising of tobacco products. 

A pioneer in the study of e-cigarettes and hookah pipes, Dr. Clark advanced the national conversation and policy discussions around the unregulated alternative smoking market. She led a team of more than 25 scientists examining new and manipulated tobacco products, and her extensive body of work provides key scientific evidence to inform tobacco control policies and improve public health. 

“She researched important topics like tobacco use and as a result she took on the powerful tobacco industry. That industry was known for trying to intimidate scientists and undermine their research. But she had such a strong, tough spirit and wasn’t going to be scared or stopped,” says friend and fellow UMD research professor Dina Borzekowski, who directs the Global Health Initiative. “I had so much respect for her.”

Dr. Clark received her doctorate in epidemiology from the University of South Florida in Tampa. She is co-author of three books and author or co-author of over 150 journal articles, book chapters and scientific reports. 

Since starting at UMD in 2008, Dr. Clark attracted an impressive $43 million in research grants and contracts to tackle public health related to tobacco use. In 2013, the National Institutes of Health and the FDA’s Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science awarded her lab a $19-million grant to test new smokeless tobacco products. In 2020, she received the prestigious Distinguished Terrapin Award, SPH’s highest honor. 

Beyond her prolific research work, she was also beloved by students and colleagues alike and is remembered for her generous mentorship to graduate students, post-docs and junior faculty. 

Pam was a beloved colleague, deeply adored and respected by all of us. Her warmth shone through in everything she did,” says Kerry Green, a prevention scientist and Interim Chair of the Department of Behavioral and Community Health, who worked with Clark. “She impressed us with her expertise in securing and leading external funding, her passion for teaching epidemiology to undergraduates, and her exceptional mentoring abilities. Her legacy continues in the faculty and students she inspired every day.” 

Dr. Clark strongly advocated student engagement in global public health and supported this vision with her own philanthropy. Borzekowski remembers an exchange between Dr. Clark and SPH undergraduate Kelsie Challenger ‘20, who had just returned from being abroad with Public Health beyond Borders in Sierra Leone. 

They met at a UMD women’s basketball game and Clark was moved by what she heard from Challenger, a behavioral and community health major. “Going to Sierra Leone changed my perspective,” Challenger told Clark. “Before I went I thought we had more to give to the [people of Sierra Leone], but in reality I learned so much more from them.”   

Borzekowski says it was hearing directly from a student about the transformational experience of learning public health abroad that inspired Clark in 2019 to establish the Pamela I. Clark Global Health Student Experience Endowment Fund. She also supported students of Public Health Beyond Borders, the UMD Student Crisis Fund, the Campus Pantry and the School of Public Health Emergency Scholarship Fund. 

Taliah Hodges, MPH ‘24, who studied abroad in India thanks to a scholarship, is one of many who benefited from Clark’s vision and support. 

“I'm grateful,” Hodges said. “I had an amazing experience in India and I learned so much about maternal and child health, chronic infectious diseases, and about health in a global context.” 

Dr. Clark’s legacy will live on in every public health student who takes their first trip abroad to study and in every faculty inspired by her unwavering quest to illuminate scientific truths for the public good in the face of a harmful tobacco industry. 

“We honor Pamela’s deep belief in the transformative power of international experiences for public health students, and her desire to make quality higher education accessible,” Lushniak said. “She was accomplished, driven and generous. Her passion for supporting future generations of public health leaders was unparalleled.”  

Dr. Clark reflected on her career in 2019. 

“The reward [for me] is the home and family I have at the University of Maryland,” she said. “We have a vision that is global, that recognizes the interconnectedness of the planet, and I totally buy into that.” 

People who wish to share remembrances - in words or in gifts in her honor - can reach out to Heidi Sweely, Chief Development Officer and Assistant Dean, at

Read Dr. Clark’s obituary at

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