The Albert B. Sabin Gold Medal Award has been awarded annually since 1994 and is given to a distinguished member of the public health community who has made extraordinary contributions in the field of vaccinology or a complementary field. Each recipient is a role model for young researchers, someone whose career has saved lives through the development and use of vaccines. The Medal is the highest scientific honor given by the Sabin Vaccine Institute and commemorates the legacy of the late Dr. Albert B. Sabin. This prestigious award is presented by the Sabin Vaccine Institute (Sabin) as part of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases(NFID) annual conference.
Past recipients of the Albert B. Sabin Gold Medal are:
2013 - Anne A. Gershon, M.D.
Champion for Childhood Disease Prevention
The Sabin Vaccine Institute awarded its 2013 Albert B. Sabin Gold Medal Award to Dr. Anne A. Gershon on April 23, 2013 for her outstanding research and public health efforts to combat the varicella zoster virus (VZV). Dr. Gershon’s research was critical to the widespread adoption of the varicella vaccine, which prevents chickenpox.
Dr. Gershon is the director of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Disease and Professor of Pediatrics at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, a position she has held for the past 26 years. Her research, which included examining the epidemiology, diagnosis, immunology, latency, prevention and treatment of VZV, played a crucial role in the final steps of the vaccine’s licensure and broad public use. Dr. Gershon continues to study the safety and efficacy of varicella vaccine, including the growth and pathogenesis of VZV in cell culture and latency of VZV in humans and animal models.
Chickenpox is a highly contagious, airborne infection that can be spread via contact with an infected person. Before 1995, when the varicella vaccine came into widespread use in the United States, chickenpox affected about 95 percent of the population, leading to thousands of hospitalizations and about 100-150 deaths a year. Ten years after the vaccine was recommended in the United States, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported as much as a 90 percent drop in chickenpox cases, a varicella-related hospital admission decline of 71 percent and a 97 percent drop in chickenpox deaths among those under 20.
This year marked the 20th anniversary of both the Sabin Vaccine Institute and the Albert B. Sabin Gold Medal Award.
2012 - F. Marc LaForce, M.D.
Champion for Meningitis Elimination in Africa
The Sabin Vaccine Institute awarded its 2012 Albert B. Sabin Gold Medal Award to Dr. F. Marc LaForce on May 7, 2012 for his contributions to the development of a new vaccine for meningitis.
From 2001 to 2012, Dr. LaForce served as the Director of the Meningitis Vaccine Project (MVP), a partnership between PATH and the World Health Organization funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. As MVP director, Dr. LaForce oversaw the successful development, licensure, and widespread introduction of the first internationally licensed vaccine specifically designed for and introduced in Africa. It provides long-lasting protection against sub-Saharan Africa’s most important cause of epidemic meningitis, a disease that kills 10 percent of those sickened and leaves over 20 percent of survivors with severe and lifelong disabilities.
More than 55 million Africans between the ages of 1 and 29 years have been vaccinated since the vaccine’s introduction in 2010. It is expected to reach 320 million people in all 25 countries of Africa’s meningitis belt by 2016.
2011 - Douglas R. Lowy, M.D. and John T. Schiller, Ph.D.
Pioneers in the development of vaccines intended to prevent cancer
Sabin Vaccine Institute awarded its 2011 Albert B. Sabin Gold Medal Award to Drs. Douglas R. Lowy and John T. Schiller on May 18, 2011 for their breakthrough research which led to the development of the first vaccines intended to prevent cancer. Drs. Lowy and Schiller made several watershed discoveries that advanced the development of vaccines against human papillomavirus (HPV), the cause of virtually all cases of cervical cancer.
At the U.S. National Institutes of Health National Cancer Institute, the two discovered that the major structural protein of papillomaviruses could self-assemble into non-infectious virus-like particles (VLPs), which had the ability to induce high levels of protective antibodies and could be produced by a method that was amenable to large-scale industrial production.
Lowy and Schiller also found that in the reference strain of HPV16— the strain that causes the most cases of cervical cancer — the protein self-assembled poorly. They then identified other isolates whose protein self-assembled efficiently and raised high levels of protective antibodies. Such discoveries ultimately resulted in the development of two commercial HPV vaccines.
2010 - John D. Clemens, M.D.
Renowned Vaccine Diplomat
Dr. John Clemens M.D. has made numerous contributions to reducing suffering and promoting peace through the development, evaluation, and distribution of vaccines.
Dr. Clemens led the first efficacy trial of an oral vaccine against cholera, and conducted additional research on a measles vaccine as a research scientist at the International Center for Diarrheal Disease Research, Bangladesh; during the 1980s. Scientists at the International Vaccine Institute (IVI) transferred the technology for the cholera vaccine to Shantha Biotechics of Hyderabad, India, and in 2009, Shanchol™ was licensed for development.
2009 - Rino Rappuoli, Ph.D.
Discoverer of Reverse Vaccinology
Dr. Rappuoli's accomplishments are numerous, but what may be his most enduring and historic legacy is his use of "reverse vaccinology," or in silico vaccinology. This work has led to a protein-based vaccine against group B meningococci that is currently in Phase 3 clinical trials. More importantly, it represents a paradigm shift that could lead to new vaccines for several devastating diseases.
Dr. Rappuoli is currently the Global Head of Vaccines Research for Novartis Vaccines & Diagnostics, where he has helped to establish the Novartis Vaccines Institute for Global Health.
2008 - Ruth S. Nussenzweig, M.D., Ph.D.
Pioneer in Malaria Research
Ruth Nussenzweig, M.D., Ph.D. has been a world leader in epidemiology research for over 40 years. In 1967, Dr. Nussenzweig discovered that protective immunity against malaria can be induced by irradiating the parasite that causes malaria . This and subsequent discoveries such as Dr. Nussenzweig's identification of malaria's cloaking gene have paved the way for several malaria vaccines, at least three of which are currently in clinical trials. Dr. Nussenzweig has been on the faculty of New York University's School of Medicine since 1965 and has been a professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine since 1972. She has held vital positions in the school such as head of the Division of Parasitology as well as professor and chairperson of the Department of Medical and Molecular Parasitology. Currently she is the C.V. Starr Professor of Medical Parasitology and Pathology. Dr. Nussenzweig has served in the Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee of the World Health Organization and The Pew Foundation, among other groups. The author of more than 200 peer-reviewed publications, she also served on the editorial boards of several journals, including Parasitology Research and Zeitschrift fur Parasitenkunde.
2007 - Hilary Koprowski, M.D. (d. 2013)
Giant of 20th century biomedical research
Dr. Koprowski's research is responsible for a variety of remarkable clinical advances in human and animal immunology and virology during his 50-year scientific career. Among Koprowski’s most notable achievements have been the development of a live oral poliomyelitis vaccine, which was the first such vaccine to be used in mass trials. Koprowski, along with his co-workers, also engineered a more effective and less painful rabies vaccine than the traditional Pasteur technique. In addition, Koprowski has been a pioneer in the development of monoclonal antibodies, which are used to detect cancer antigens and in cancer immunotherapy.
2006 - William H. Foege, M.D., M.P.H.
Champion of child survival
William H. Foege an epidemiologist who worked in the successful campaign to eradicate smallpox in the 1970s. He has championed many issues, but child survival and development, injury prevention, population, preventive medicine, and public health leadership are of special interest, particularly in the developing world. He is a strong proponent of disease eradication and control, and has taken an active role in the eradication of Guinea worm, polio and measles, and the elimination of river blindness. By writing and lecturing extensively, Foege has succeeded in broadening public awareness of these issues and bringing them to the forefront of domestic and international health policies.
2005 - Albert Z. Kapikian, M.D.
Father of human gastroenteritis virus research
Albert Z. Kapikian is a physician, medical pioneer and viral diseases researcher, whose five-decade career has been marked by groundbreaking medical research contributions. He is distinguished as the developer of the first licensed rotavirus vaccine. He began studying the epidemiology and causes of various viral diseases in the 50s and used electron microscopy to discover and characterize viruses causing major diseases in humans. In 1972, he identified the Norwalk virus, gaining recognition as "the father of human gastroenteritis virus research." In 1973, he and two colleagues identified the virus that causes hepatitis A. At the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, he led a nearly 25-year effort to develop an oral rotavirus vaccine that in 1998 became the first rotavirus vaccine licensed in the United States.
2004 - William S. Jordan, Jr., M.D. (d. 2008)
A name synonymous with vaccine research
For more than 60 years, Jordan has worked in the preventive medicine field as a practicing physician, dedicated teacher, and noted infectious disease researcher. He established an annual scientific review, known as the Jordan Report, considered by many in the field to be the most complete reference available on vaccine research and development. He advanced national and global disease prevention strategies as well as promotion of vaccine research, helping launch a program at the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases that serves to accelerate vaccine focus needed attention and resources on new vaccines and vaccine improvements.
2003 - Samuel L. Katz, M.D.
Conquering pediatric infectious diseases
Katz changed the face of children’s health forever by co-developing the measles vaccine now used worldwide. Perhaps no other vaccine besides the Sabin polio vaccine, has saved more lives. The measles vaccine is the foremost tool in the effort to rid the world of this otherwise common childhood disease. His dedication to pediatric infectious disease prevention is demonstrated further by his research on vaccinia, polio, rubella, influenza, pertussis, HIV and many diseases. Dr. Katz is the Wilburt Cornell Davison Professor and Emeritus of Pediatrics at Duke University. Currently, he co-chairs the Indo-US Vaccine Action Program and is a member of the Board of International Vaccine Institute in Seoul, Korea.
2002 - Stanley A. Plotkin, M.D.
Breaking ground in rubella eradication
Stanley A. Plotkin, M.D., is medical and scientific advisor to sanofi pasteur, one of the world's largest vaccine companies. He is perhaps best known as the developer of the rubella vaccine that is the only one in use in the United States and throughout most of the world.
Dr. Plotkin joined sanofi pasteur in 1990. He retains the title of emeritus professor from his prior faculty membership at the University of Pennsylvania. There, he was professor of pediatrics and microbiology and professor at the Wistar Institute. He served concurrently as director of infectious disease and senior physician at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
Dr. Plotkin earned his medical degree from the State University of New York in 1956. In 1957, he investigated the last known outbreak of inhalation anthrax in the United States prior to the events of 2001, and helped demonstrate the efficacy of the current anthrax vaccine. This Sabin Gold Medal honoree is also known as the "Founding Father" of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society. He has edited several books, including Vaccines, now the standard textbook in the field. Dr. Plotkin has also worked extensively on the development of other vaccines including polio, rabies, varicella, AIDS and cytomegalovirus.
2001 - John B. Robbins, M.D.
Saving infants and children
John B. Robbins is Chief of the Laboratory of Developmental and Molecular Immunity, National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development at the National Institutes of Health since 1983. He has played a pivotal role in the development of Hib conjugate vaccine which is now used throughout the world. The use of this vaccine led to a dramatic decline in the number of infants and children suffering from meningitis and other systematic infections such as osteomyelitis and pneumonia. Dr. Robbins has also played an important role in the development of vaccines for typhoid fever, pertussis and many others. He is doing active work on Helicobacter, tuberculosis and non-typeable Hemophilus vaccines.
2000 - Ciro A. de Quadros, M.D., M.P.H.
A global vision
Ciro de Quadros, Director of International Programs, Sabin Vaccine Institute, and former Director of the Division of Vaccines and Immunization of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has devoted his entire career to infectious disease prevention. After receiving his Medical degree from the School of Medicine in Porto Alegre and Masters in Public Health degree from the National School of Public Health in Rio de Janeiro he became involved in the Smallpox Eradication Effort in Brazil. His assignment as Smallpox Surveillance Officer in 1969 took him from the Amazon to the State of Parana. When he left Parana smallpox in Parana was at "zero". As Field Operations Director in Ethiopia, he led efforts culminating in smallpox eradication in 1975 and certification two years later. In 1975 he joined PAHO as the first Director in the Americas where his many achievements include in 1985 launching the Expanded Program on Immunization and leading the PAHO team in the successful eradication of poliomyelitis from the Western Hemisphere in 1991.
1999 - Maj. Gen. Philip K. Russell, M.D. (USA Ret.)
On the health battlefield
Philip Russell received his bachelor’s degree from Johns Hopkins University and his medical degree from the University of Rochester. He is Board certified in Internal Medicine and has authored and co-authored over 100 publications on Infectious Diseases. He is Professor Emeritus at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Department of International Health. In 1990, Philip Russell served in the U.S. Army Medical Department where he pursued a career in Infectious Disease Research retiring as a major general. His military assignments included Director, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Commander, Fitzsimons Army Medical Center and Commander U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command. His military awards include the Legion of Merit and the Distinguished Service Medal. Academic appointments include Professor of Preventive Medicine at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.
Dr. Russell is past president of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, and Fellow of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. He served as Special Advisor to the International Children’s Vaccine Initiative. He was member of the board of scientific Counselors of the National Center for Infectious Diseases and served on the Presidents Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments. He has served on numerous boards and advisory committees for national and international agencies and now serves on the board of directors of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative and the Albert B. Sabin Vaccine Institute. He is member of the strategic Advisory Committee of the Bill & Melinda Gates Children’s Vaccine Program and consultant at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He is currently chair of the Malaria Vaccine Task Force of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
1998 - Allen C. Steere, M.D.
Lyme disease pioneer
Allen C. Steere is an exemplar of translational research. He discovered Lyme disease and conducted subsequent studies that paved the way for development of a vaccine to prevent the disease. Dr. Steere holds the Natalie V. Zucker & Milton O. Zucker Endowed Chair in Rheumatology and Immunology at Tufts University School of Medicine. He also is Chief of Rheumatology/Immunology at the New England Medical Center.
1998 - Myron M. Levine, M.D., D.T.P.H.
Mentor to the future
Myron Levine is a distinguished teacher and a mentor to young faculty members as Director of the Center for Vaccine Development at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. As Chairman of the Future Vaccine Subcommittee of the US National Vaccine Advisory Committee, he provides counsel to legislators on vaccine policy.
1997 - Maurice R. Hilleman, Ph.D. (d. 2005)
Dean of vaccines
Maurice R. Hilleman is Director of the Merck Institute for Therapeutic Research. He is credited with developing more vaccines than any other person in history. Dr. Hilleman pioneered the development of numerous live, killed, and combined vaccines including measles, mumps, rubella, Marek's disease, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, adenoviruses, and the commercial evolution of vaccines against meningococci and pneumococci.
1996 - Joseph L. Melnick, Ph.D., D.Sc. (d. 2001)
Teacher and leader
Joseph L. Melnick did groundbreaking work in polio research. As founding Chairman of the acclaimed Department of Virology and Epidemiology at Baylor College of Medicine, he trained more than 100 virologists at the Ph.D. or postdoctoral level, many of whom now are leading efforts to develop new vaccines and improve immunization.
1995 - Robert M. Chanock, M.D. (d. 2010)
The breath of life
Robert M. Chanock is Chief of the Laboratory of Infectious Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health. He was the first to identify and characterize respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which each year contributes to the deaths of one million infants and children worldwide. Dr. Chanock began his career in Dr. Albert Sabin's laboratory at the University of Cincinnati.
1994 - Donald A. Henderson, M.D., M.P.H.
Eradicating an ancient scourge
Donald A. Henderson directed the decade-long World Health Organization global campaign that eradicated smallpox. He oversaw more than 700 advisors from 69 countries, as well as 200,000 national health staff and volunteers. Dr. Henderson has served as the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health in the Department of Health and Human Services and as a Presidential science advisor.