NEW CANAAN, CT—Dr. Allan L. Goldstein of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, headquartered in New Canaan, Connecticut, received Panama’s highest national honor during a visit to that country earlier this month. The decoration as “Commander” in the Order of Vasco Nuñez de Balboa was presented to Dr. Goldstein at an awards ceremony on December 6 in Santiago, Panama.
Dr. Goldstein is a board member of the local research institute and also is chairman of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at The George Washington University (GW) in Washington, D.C. The Panamanian government cited Dr. Goldstein’s valuable contributions and personal dedication in the performance of his profession directed to the preservation of human life throughout the world.
The medal was presented at the inaugural scientific meeting of the President Mireya Moscoso Center for Geographic Medicine and Emerging Tropical Diseases, which is a collaborative project of Panamanian and U.S. institutions. The international center is directed by Peter Hotez, MD, PhD, Sabin Scientific Advisory Council chairman and chairman of Microbiology and Tropical Medicine at GW.
“I am humbled by the great honor you have given me today,” said Dr. Goldstein. He dedicated the award to the thousands of young students and scientists from both countries whose health research efforts do not gain such attention. “These young people are my heroes and our future and I am hopeful that the scientific and medical center we are developing here in Panama will make a difference in the training and education of these young scientists and clinicians and will help them to do their work,” he said.
Drs. Goldstein and Hotez are working with U.S. colleagues from GW, University of Texas Medical Branch, Texas Children’s Hospital, and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, along with those of Panama’s Chicho Fabria Hospital, the Central Regional University of Veraguas, the University of Panama and the Gorgas Medical Center in developing this new center for geographic medicine in Panama. The international collaboration that established the center has the strong support of Panamanian President Mireya Moscoso, who is committed to improve the health of the citizens of Panama. A goal of the partnership is to create the premier center for the study of tropical diseases.
Dr. Jose Miguel Alemán, Panama’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, presented the award. Dignitaries at the ceremony included Dr. Fernando Gracias, Panama’s Minister of Health, and Panama Special Ambassador Dr. Adán Rios. The honor given Dr. Goldstein carries the title Knight-Commander, is named for the Spanish explorer who trekked through the jungles of what is now Panama in 1513 to become the first European to see the eastern shore of the Pacific Ocean. The award has been given since 1941 to citizens and friends of Panama who have made significant scientific or artistic contributions to the country.
The Albert B. Sabin Vaccine Institute’s mission is to prevent disease by stimulating development of new vaccines and increasing immunization rates. Founded in 1993, the Institute is headquartered in New Canaan, Connecticut. The Institute pursues Albert Sabin’s vision of a world protected from disease by vaccines. Sabin Institute colloquia bring together leaders of academia, industry, government and philanthropy in a shared quest to accelerate the development of vaccines to prevent infectious diseases and to prevent and treat cancer. As an immunization advocate, it helps policy makers shape sound public health policies and informs the public about the importance of vaccinations. The Sabin Institute’s Hookworm Vaccine Initiative is working to develop a vaccine to prevent an infection that afflicts more than twenty percent of the world’s population, a leading cause of malnutrition and stunted development.