Dr. Santosham honored for remarkable contributions to combat H. influenzae type b (Hib) diseases

WASHINGTON, D.C. – April 29, 2014 – The Sabin Vaccine Institute today will present its annual Albert B. Sabin Gold Medal Award to Dr. Mathuram Santosham for his pioneering role in the prevention of deadly H. influenzae type b (Hib) diseases, including pediatric bacterial meningitis and pneumonia. Dr. Santosham’s leadership in conducting groundbreaking research, vaccine efficacy trials and advocacy to prioritize Hib vaccines spans more than 40 years and has saved millions of children’s lives worldwide.

“We are delighted to honor Dr. Santosham for his advancements against Hib diseases, which caused unnecessary suffering and death prior to his landmark findings and integral policy guidance,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute. “His unwavering commitment to scientific discovery and service to marginalized communities in every country mirrors the late Dr. Sabin’s core mission and has inspired countless other public health achievements.”

Dr. Santosham’s Hib conjugate vaccine efficacy studies in Navajo children ultimately resulted in virtual elimination of the disease in North America, and other western countries thereafter. Dr. Santosham also championed the introduction and use of Hib vaccines for children in low-income countries by leading the Hib Initiative, a GAVI Alliance-funded project. Now, every GAVI-eligible country is either currently using the vaccine or has decided to use the vaccine in the near future. GAVI estimates that by 2020, the Hib vaccine will have prevented 7 million deaths.

“I am honored to receive this prestigious award from the Sabin Vaccine Institute, which is also dedicated to reducing needless human suffering by ensuring the availability of safe, low-cost vaccines,” said Dr. Santosham, Professor of International Health and Pediatrics, and the Founder and Director of the Center for American Indian Health at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. “My hope is that scientists, doctors and public health advocates continue to partner with governments and communities around the world to wipe out preventable diseases. Our work against Hib diseases demonstrates what is possible.”

In addition, Dr. Santosham’s landmark research on oral rehydration solution (ORS) – known as Pedialyte – led to the promotion of ORS as the standard care for treating diarrheal dehydration, which has saved over 50 million lives since 1980. He also conducted trials to demonstrate the efficacy of rotavirus and pneumococcal conjugate vaccines. Currently, he is the co-chair of the Rotavirus Organization of Technical Allies (ROTA) Council and served as a member of the Pneumococcal Awareness Council of Experts (PACE) from 2008 to 2012.

The annual Albert B. Sabin Gold Medal Award recognizes a distinguished member of the public health community who has made extraordinary contributions in the field of vaccinology or a complementary field. The award commemorates the legacy of Dr. Sabin, who developed the oral live virus polio vaccine that is widely heralded with contributing to the near eradication of polio worldwide.

Dr. Santosham will be honored today at a ceremony in conjunction with the National Foundation for Infectious Disease Annual Conference at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

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About the Sabin Vaccine Institute

The Sabin Vaccine Institute (Sabin) is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization of scientists, researchers and advocates dedicated to reducing needless human suffering from vaccine-preventable and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). Since its founding in 1993 in honor of Dr. Albert B. Sabin, the developer of the oral polio vaccine, Sabin has been at the forefront of global efforts to eliminate, prevent and cure infectious and neglected tropical diseases.

Sabin develops new vaccines, advocates for increased use of existing vaccines and promotes expanded access to affordable medical treatments in collaboration with governments, academic institutions, scientists, medical professionals and other non-profit organizations. For more information please visit www.sabin.org.

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