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Abraham “Abe” Bergman, MD, professor emeritus in the Department of Pediatrics at the UW School of Medicine, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Merit for his outstanding service to Washington State and its residents.

Bergman was recognized for leading many successful national efforts to pass legislative acts to protect the safety of children, including the Flammable Fabrics Act (1967), the Poison Prevention Packaging Act (1970) and the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Act (1974). Locally, he co-founded the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center in 1985 and was responsible for the campaign to promote bicycle helmet use. One of his recent projects involved working with the City of Seattle to provide space for the Seattle PlayGarden, a playground for children of all abilities. He passed away on Nov. 10, 2023.

The award was presented by Secretary of State Steve Hobbs, Governor Jay Inslee, Lieutenant Governor Denny Heck, and Chief Justice Steven C. González on Feb. 21, 2024, at the state capitol. Leslie Walker-Harding, MD, chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the UW School of Medicine; Frederick Rivara, MD, vice chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the UW School of Medicine; and Brian Johnston, MD, chief of Pediatrics at Harborview Medical Center attended the event.

Brian Johnston (left), Leslie Walker-Harding (right)
Leslie Walker-Harding (left), Fred Rivara (right)

Photo caption: Brian Johnston (far left), Leslie Walker-Harding, Fred Rivara (far right)

Bergman joins a group of 35 distinguished Washingtonians to receive the state’s highest honor. It is also the second time a UW Medicine physician has been recognized: Michael Copass, MD, former director of the Harborview Emergency Department and founder of Airlift Northwest, was honored with the award in 1995.