Breathe New Hampshire was founded in 1916 by Dr. Robert Brown Kerr. He was born in Glasgow, Scotland on January 15, 1887 and came to this country when he was five years old. Having become interested in medicine as a young boy, he received his medical degree from Tufts College Medical School in 1910. He interned at the Boston City Hospital, and after completing his internship was named resident physician of the Pembroke Sanatorium in 1911. He served at the Sanatorium until October 31, 1950.
In 1916, Dr. Kerr was responsible for founding the New Hampshire Tuberculosis Association (now Breathe New Hampshire) during the period when TB sanatoriums were built to help patients recover and prevent the spread of this highly contagious disease. The original mission was to stop the spread of tuberculosis in New Hampshire. He was the organization’s executive secretary and medical director from 1917 to 1966. Largely through his efforts both the incidence and death rate of tuberculosis was diminished.
Dr. Kerr was an attending physician at various New Hampshire and veterans hospitals. He was a diplomat of the American Board of Internal Medicine, a fellow of the American College of Physicians, a fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians, and a member of the New Hampshire and County Medical Associations. He was also a member of the American Trudeau Society and served on its board of directors and as president of its Atlantic States section.
In 1932, the University of New Hampshire conferred upon him the honorary degree of Master of Arts in recognition of the outstanding part he played in the public health of New Hampshire.
The Robert B. Kerr Award is Breathe New Hampshire's highest honor and was established in 1966 in recognition of Dr. Kerr. The Kerr Award is given to person who consistently demonstrates a selfless professional or personal commitment to furthering lung health in the region. See a list of past recipients here.