NEW CANAAN, CT—The Sabin Vaccine Institute has named disease eradication champion Ciro A. de Quadros, MD, MPH to lead its international programs. Dr. de Quadros is a distinguished international public health diplomat, having this year completed an eight-year term as director of the Division of Vaccines and Immunization for the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). Dr. de Quadros will pursue international immunization advocacy for the Sabin Vaccine Institute, with a special emphasis on the Latin American region.

“Dr. de Quadros has devoted his entire career to disease prevention and public health and has achieved tremendous results in immunization coverage for the Americas,” said H.R. Shepherd, chairman of the Sabin Vaccine Institute. “The Institute will be energized by Ciro’s role in current programs and new international initiatives because of his expertise and the high esteem in which he is regarded in the international public health community.” A staunch supporter of the Institute’s efforts through the years, Dr. de Quadros was recognized in 2000 with the Albert B. Sabin Gold Medal for his achievements in vaccinology.

“We have an opportunity to take the international programs of the Sabin Vaccine Institute to a new level, since vaccines for the developing world are a critical aspect of both public health and social development,” said Dr. de Quadros. “The Institute is in a unique position to encourage countries to make their vaccine programs a key priority, for all children and the entire society.” He added, “The Institute has truly embraced the legacy of Dr. Albert B. Sabin, whom I knew as a great believer in the ability of vaccines to prevent human suffering due to preventable diseases.”

At the outset of his activities as director of international programs, Dr. de Quadros will head up an advocacy initiative to call attention to the burden of two diseases with devastating health impact—rotavirus and rubella.

Rotavirus is the most common cause of diarrheal deaths among children in developing countries. Each year, it claims the lives of 600,000 children, with at least 18,000 deaths occurring in Latin America and the Caribbean region. The Sabin Vaccine Institute anticipates the day when a second-generation rotavirus vaccine is available. Such a vaccine will have a tremendous impact not only in improving health, but also in furthering the social development of the countries in which the disease has the greatest hold.

“Encouraging the search for a rotavirus vaccine is a high priority of both the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization,” Dr. de Quadros said. “The availability of such a vaccine will be a major contributor to the survival of children around the world.”

Rubella and congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) account for several thousand cases of congenital disabilities each year such as blindness, deafness, and heart disease. Several countries in the Americas, following their successful efforts to eradicate measles, have now launched campaigns to eliminate rubella and CRS. “The interruption of transmission of rubella will have an immediate impact in eliminating the burden of CRS,” Dr. de Quadros said.

Dr. de Quadros received his medical degree from the Catholic School of Medicine, Pôrto Alegre, Brazil and his master in public health degree from the National School of Public Health, Rio de Janeiro. He subsequently participated in the organization of the first National Epidemiology Center in his native Brazil. There he was involved in the development of the surveillance and containment strategies for smallpox eradication in Parana State, Brazil. In 1970, Dr. de Quadros was appointed chief epidemiologist for the Smallpox Eradication Program in Ethiopia by the World Health Organization. Following the global eradication of smallpox, Dr. de Quadros joined the Pan American Health Organization to initiate the Expanded Program on Immunization for the region of the Americas. He led the PAHO team in the successful eradication of poliomyelitis in 1991 from the Western Hemisphere.

In addition to disease eradication leadership, Dr. de Quadros has overseen general immunization
programs for PAHO. Regional vaccine campaigns save the lives of more than 200,000 children in Latin America and the Caribbean each year, according to Dr. de Quadros, and over 80 percent of children in the Americas under one year old are vaccinated against diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), tetanus, poliomyelitis, measles and tuberculosis. In his international public health work Dr. de Quadros has highlighted the important role played by immunization programs. “I know from my experience with smallpox eradication in Brazil and the Horn of Africa, with polio eradication and now the measles eradication initiative in the Americas, that well-run immunization programs do help strengthen health infrastructures in the countries where they are properly implemented.”

Dr. de Quadros is associate adjunct professor, Department of International Health, School of Hygiene and Public Health at the Johns Hopkins University; adjunct professor, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University; and adjunct professor in the Department of Microbiology and Tropical Medicine at The George Washington University.

He is a member of the American Public Health Association, American Association for the Advancement of Science, National Council for International Health, American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, and the New York Academy of Sciences. Among his awards are the World Health Organization’s Order of the Bifurcated Needle, for his contribution to smallpox eradication; the International Child Survival Award from UNICEF and the Carter Center, for personal contribution to polio eradication; the Prince Mahidol Award of Thailand, for his contribution to polio eradication in the Americas; the Order of Rio Branco of Brazil, for contributing to improving the health of the peoples of the world; and just last week he received the Order of Public Health from the Government of Bolivia. He is the recipient of numerous other honors.

The mission of the Albert B. Sabin Vaccine Institute is to save lives by stimulating development of new vaccines and increasing immunization rates throughout the world. Founded in 1993, the Institute pursues Dr. Albert Sabin’s vision of a world protected from disease by vaccines.