In Memoriam Laurie Schwab Zabin

It is with great sadness that we share that Laurie Schwab Zabin passed away Monday, May 11, 2020.

Professor Emerita in the Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health in the Bloomberg School, and founding Director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health in 1999, Laurie dedicated her professional life to protecting sexual and reproductive health, especially that of adolescents.

Dr. Zabin received her BA from Vassar College, MA from Harvard University and PhD in Population Dynamics from the Johns Hopkins.

In the 1950s, after family planning pioneer Alan F. Guttmacher delivered her first child and spoke to her of family planning, Zabin began volunteering with Planned Parenthood and later became director of the Maryland chapter. In 1974, when others usually wind down their careers, Zabin launched her second one, beginning a PhD in Population Dynamics (now Population, Family and Reproductive Health) at the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health (now the Bloomberg School).

After graduating in 1979, Zabin was jointly appointed to Gynecology-Obstetrics in the School of Medicine and Population Dynamics in the School of Public Health. Her pioneering research on teen pregnancy, abortion and sexual attitudes and behavior among adolescents in the United States and abroad established her international reputation. She provided legal testimony in many cases supporting adolescent access to family planning services and helped found and served on the board of the Guttmacher Institute.

Laurie Schwab Zabin with Gates Institute colleaguesIn 1999, Zabin founded the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Gates Institute‘s mission of “Scholarship and Science for Social Change" continues, as the Institute plays a leading role advancing family planning and reproductive health in the developing world, through leadership programs, research, and translating evidence into policies and practice.

Zabin published widely, including scholarly articles, three books based on her adolescent research and many book chapters and reports, and was cited on the ISI List as one of the Most Highly Cited authors in the social sciences.

Before entering the research world, she served with Planned Parenthood –local, national and international– including as Acting Director and President of the Maryland affiliate. In the 1970's, she helped establish and served on the Board of Directors of the Guttmacher Institute, with a term as its Chair. In 2006, the Institute named her a lifetime emeritus director.

Laurie Schwab Zabin Abuja Conference 2011She was the 2003 recipient of the Carl A. Shultz Award of the American Public Health Association, and on the APHA Governing Council. She served on the National Academy of Sciences' Committee on the Behavioral and Social Science of AIDS, the Adolescent Health Committee of the American College of ObGyn, the International Center for Research on Women’s Advisory Committee, and on the Surgeon General's Select Consultant Work Group on Adolescent Pregnancy. Bridging the worlds of academia and practice, of advocacy and service, she received the annual ACLU of Maryland award for her work in reproductive rights, Planned Parenthood of Maryland’s Margaret Sanger award and the Irwin M. Cushner Award of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association for research that serves the provider and policy communities. Johns Hopkins established a Fellowship in Reproductive Health in her honor in 2002. She was the 2008 recipient of Vassar College’s annual award to a graduate for Distinguished Achievement and has been honored by the American Academy of Pediatrics – and by Johns Hopkins with its Heritage Award.

In gratitude for all Laurie contributed to the field, our school, and the department and to many of us personally and professionally.

If you would like to make a contribution to honor Laurie’s memory, please donate online or by check to the Laurie Schwab Zabin Scholarship Fund in Population, Family and Reproductive Health.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020 - 11:15