Dave Eggers
Susan Ragan  /  AP file
Author Dave Eggers talks to readers at The City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco, in this April 2, 2001 file photo.
updated 9/12/2007 12:34:01 PM ET 2007-09-12T16:34:01

An author who has nurtured young writers and a doctor who has pushed nations to share disease information in hopes of combating illness are among six people named Heinz Award winners on Wednesday.

The annual $250,000 prize is given to people who make notable contributions in the arts and humanities, the environment, the human condition, public policy, and technology, the economy and employment.

Dave Eggers, whose books include "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius" and "What Is the What," was presented the arts and humanities award. Eggers founded the 826 Valencia writing laboratories in San Francisco and McSweeney's, a publishing house that has nurtured emerging writers.

"As a young man, he has infused his love of writing and learning into the broader community, nurturing the talents and aspirations of a new generation of writers and creating new outlets for a range of literary expression," said Teresa Heinz, the foundation's chair.

Dr. David L. Heymann, an assistant director general of the World Health Organization and an international public health advocate, was given the public policy award for persuading nations to share data on disease exposure within their borders. Heymann, a Pennsylvania native who got his undergraduate degree at Penn State, works for the WHO in Geneva.

"By forcefully and relentlessly making the case that disease respects no borders and can threaten the security of all nations, he has made it possible to orchestrate a global response to the outbreak of disease," Heinz said.

The Heinz Family Foundation of Pittsburgh has presented the awards since 1994 in memory of Sen. John Heinz III, heir to the Heinz food fortune who died in a 1991 plane crash.

Other recipients of this year's Heinz Awards include:

  • Bernard Amadei, Boulder, Colo., and Susan Seacrest, Lincoln, Neb., co-recipients of the environment award. Amadei founded Engineers Without Borders, a humanitarian organization, and Seacrest founded the Groundwater Foundation, which educates people about groundwater.
  • Dr. Donald M. Berwick, Cambridge, Mass., public policy award. Berwick has worked to ensure that health care institutions better coordinate patient care and implement improved quality controls.
  • Hugh Herr, Cambridge, Mass., technology, economy and employment award. Herr, a double-amputee and researcher at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was given the award for his advances in rehabilitation technologies that help improve quality of life.

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