Sabin Gold Medal

2024 Albert B. Sabin Gold Medal Ceremony

April 18, 2024

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2024 Gold Medal Recipients

The 2024 Gold Medal was awarded to a duo of South African researchers for their key roles in the clinical development of vaccines against pneumonia, neonatal sepsis, and diarrheal disease—the major causes of death in children living in low and middle-income countries (LMIC). Individually, awardees Dr. Keith Paul Klugman and Dr. Shabir Ahmed Madhi have accomplished significant milestones in the field of vaccinology and infectious diseases research. Together, at an internationally recognized research unit in South Africa established by Klugman and subsequently expanded by his former graduate student Madhi, they worked to demonstrate the efficacy of vaccines to protect children and pregnant women in LMICs.

Dr. Keith KlugmanKeith Paul Klugman

Dr. Keith Paul Klugman has dedicated his illustrious career to the field of infectious diseases and microbiology. He conducted the first clinical trial to demonstrate the efficacy of Vi capsular polysaccharide to prevent typhoid fever in a study in African schoolchildren in the 1980’s. His contributions to pneumococcal research have garnered him numerous honors and awards, and his hundreds of publications have been cited over 50,000 times to date. His work demonstrating pneumococcal conjugate vaccine efficacy is of particular note, and has impacted millions of lives across the globe, most significantly in Africa.

As the director of the pneumonia program at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, Washington, Klugman orchestrates strategic initiatives aimed at eradicating this formidable respiratory disease. Klugman also holds the position of Emeritus William H Foege Professor of global health at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, and serves as an honorary professor in the respiratory and meningeal pathogens research unit at his alma mater, the University of the Witwatersrand in his birthplace of Johannesburg, South Africa where the university conferred an honorary degree of doctor of medicine upon him in 2023. Klugman remains deeply connected to the region and is unwavering in his commitment to address health disparities in underserved communities. His roles in academia offer him opportunities to share his knowledge with the next generation of public health leaders, inspiring them to tackle complex health challenges with determination and compassion.

Klugman holds both a medical as well as a science doctorate degree from Witwatersrand University and was the first student in the school’s history to obtain them simultaneously. He holds a U.S. patent for multivalent pneumococcal vaccines, along with colleagues Subhash Kapre and Anup Datta, and has received many accolades over the course of his 40-plus year career. These include the John F.W. Herschel Medal of the Royal Society of South Africa for his multidisciplinary contribution to science and the reduction in childhood mortality through the development of conjugate pneumococcal vaccination in developing countries in 2011, and an honorary life membership of the Federation of Infectious Diseases Societies of Southern Africa in recognition of outstanding services to the field of infectious diseases, his impact on public health, and his contribution to the Federation in 2015. He was elected to membership of the National Academy of Medicine in Washington, DC also in 2015.

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Professor Shabir A. Madhi

Shabir Ahmed Madhi

Shabir Ahmed Madhi is a distinguished figure in the field of vaccinology and infectious diseases, with a career spanning over three decades. His pioneering work has contributed to significant advancements in vaccine development, and he has played a crucial role in shaping public health policies and strategies across the globe.

Born and raised in South Africa, Madhi completed his medical internship at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital and finished his training as a pediatrician at the University of the Witwatersrand. He subsequently transitioned to research and led clinical trials at Wits University focused on respiratory and meningeal pathogens, including vaccines targeted at pregnant women that benefit their child. His expertise as a researcher led to his appointment as the co-director of the Respiratory and Meningeal Pathogens Research Unit in 2001, solidifying his reputation as a leading figure in the field. He is currently dean of the faculty of Health Sciences at the University of the Witwatersrand, where he was also inaugurated as professor of vaccinology in 2008.

Among the many accolades he has received, Madhi was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Science and Technology Forum-South 32 for outstanding contribution to science in 2022 and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the South African Medical Research Council in 2013. He received a Gold Medal from the Academy of Science of South Africa in 2021 and the John FW Herschel Medal from the Royal Society of South Africa in 2024. In 2023, he was awarded the Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) in recognition of his services to science and public health in a global pandemic. Recognized as a Category A1 by the National Research Foundation, South Africa, he is respected as an international leader in the field of research by his peers. He is the author of hundreds of published papers, many of which were written with his co-awardee, with a H-index of 103.

In addition to his administrative roles, Madhi remains actively engaged in research, with a particular focus on vaccines and infectious diseases. In his current roles as director of the Vaccines and Infectious Diseases Analytics Research Unit and co-director of the African Leadership in Vaccinology Expertise, Madhi continues to lead efforts to combat infectious diseases in Africa and beyond. He is a tireless advocate for equitable access to vaccines and remains committed to improving health outcomes for all.

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2024 Rising Star Award

Dr. Nicole BastaNicole E. Basta

Nicole E. Basta, an infectious diseases epidemiologist, was named the 2024 Rising Star. Basta specializes in evaluating the impact of vaccines and immunization programs, increasing vaccine awareness, acceptance, and uptake, and conducting biological and clinical studies to understand biomarkers of infection and immunity. As a first-generation college student, she graduated from Princeton University with a degree in ecology and evolutionary biology, pursued advanced studies in epidemiology as a Gates Cambridge Scholar at the University of Cambridge, and subsequently earned a doctoral degree from the University of Washington. She is currently Canada Research Chair in Infectious Disease Prevention and an associate professor (with tenure) at McGill University’s School of Population and Global Health.

Throughout her academic career, Basta has distinguished herself as a prolific researcher and scholar, with a focus on identifying, evaluating, and optimizing infectious disease prevention and control strategies to improve health and well-being for all. Her groundbreaking research has contributed invaluable insights into the epidemiology of a broad range of infectious diseases, shedding light on the factors that influence disease transmission, the efficacy of vaccination strategies, and patterns of vaccine uptake. In 2020, she and a colleague developed an interactive online COVID-19 vaccine tracker, providing real-time updates to millions of users on the vaccine development progress in an effort to provide trustworthy and clear information about COVID-19 vaccines, improve the public’s understanding about the vaccine testing process, and monitor the global vaccine landscape.

Throughout her career, Basta has demonstrated deep commitment to mentoring the next generation of public health leaders. Her dedication to fostering excellence in research and scholarship is evident in her mentorship of students and trainees in several countries and her collaborative efforts with fellow researchers.

Basta draws upon her prior two-year experience as an infectious disease outbreak investigator with the Florida Department of Health to ensure that her impact extends beyond the confines of academia. She works with policy makers and public health agencies and organizations to translate research findings into actionable strategies for disease prevention and control.

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