The prestigious award honors those who have made substantive and outstanding contributions to the field of cancer surveillance, which examines the differences in cancer rates and types between different groups of people.
Wiggins was selected “in recognition of his long-standing service to the cancer surveillance community; commitment to addressing cancer disparities; history of teaching and mentoring the next generation of cancer surveillance scientists; and his ability to ask the tough questions that challenge our thinking and move the field forward,” the association said.
The award singled out his longstanding interest in cancer in underserved populations. He has worked extensively to understand the cancer burden among the diverse people of the Southwest.
“I am honored to receive this recognition from the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries,” Wiggins said. “Truly, however, my accomplishments are readily attributable to our team at the New Mexico Tumor Registry, and to my faculty colleagues, staff and students at The University of New Mexico. This award emphasizes the importance of public health surveillance for cancer here in New Mexico, across the country and around the world.”
The document also praised Wiggins’ friendly demeanor and inquisitive intelligence, as well as his active participation in the NAACCR, including serving as its president from 2015-2017.
Wiggins first joined the New Mexico Tumor Registry in 1978 as an intern from The University of New Mexico. Upon receiving his bachelor’s degree in health education, he joined full time as a reporting assistant.
He left to pursue his master’s degree in epidemiology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and in 1983 he returned to the New Mexico Tumor Registry as an epidemiologist. He received his doctorate from the University of Washington in 1999 and returned to the New Mexico Tumor Registry as director in 2003.
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