CITY HALL — E. Richard Brown, former chair of the Santa Monica Airport Commission, died unexpectedly Friday after suffering a massive stroke. He was 70.

Brown served on the Santa Monica Airport Commission for over three years beginning in September 2008, but his legacy rests with his long career in the field of public health.

Brown founded the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research in 1994, an organization that seeks to improve the public’s health by advancing policy through research, public service, community partnership and education.

He was also a past president of the American Public Health Association.

Brown’s research while with UCLA focused on health insurance coverage, mostly as it impacted the disadvantaged and minority communities.

He was also the principal investigator for the California Health Interview Survey, one of the nation’s longest ongoing health surveys that provides information on health issues like chronic conditions, health behaviors, health insurance coverage and access to health care for Californians.

Brown’s expertise made him the go-to expert on health policy for several presidential administrations and helped develop major health care reform proposals both for California and the nation.

According to an obituary released by the Center for Health Policy Research, Brown’s passion for health policy came from his own experience growing up in a poor family that could not afford health care.

Gerald F. Kominski, the current director of the center, described Brown as “a beloved teacher, highly accomplished researcher and a formidable advocate for health.”

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