NEW CANAAN, CT, Mar. 7—Samuel L. Katz, MD, the Wilburt Cornell Davison Professor and chairman emeritus of pediatrics at Duke University Medical Center, will be this year’s recipient of the Sabin Gold Medal. The award recognizes exemplary leadership in the field of vaccinology. Dr. Katz is contributor to numerous vaccine discoveries, including collaboration to develop the measles vaccine in use today.
“Samuel Katz exemplifies a rare sort of commitment and perseverance that culminates in life-saving medical discoveries,” said H.R. Shepherd, chairman of the Sabin Vaccine Institute.
“The global benefit of the measles vaccine alone is tremendous and can be realized even further with amplified immunization rates.” In addition to development of the measles vaccine, Dr. Katz worked extensively on a range of other vaccines, including vaccinia (used as smallpox vaccine), polio, rubella, influenza, pertussis (whooping cough), Haemophilus influenzae type b conjugates, and HIV.
His selection by the Sabin Gold Medal Advisory Committee of the Albert B. Sabin Vaccine Institute places Dr. Katz among a prestigious fraternity of 10 previous recipients.
The award will be presented at 7 pm on May 6 at the Crystal City Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Virginia. The medal ceremony is planned during the 6th Annual Conference on Vaccine Research, a meeting of several hundred of Dr. Katz’s fellow scientists that is co-organized by the Sabin Vaccine Institute and sponsored by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.
“This award is especially meaningful,” Dr. Katz said. “I am thrilled to be selected as the 2003 recipient of the Sabin Gold Medal and there are so many reasons, including the esteem in which I hold all the former Medal recipients.”
According to Peter Hotez, MD, chairman of the Institute’s Scientific Advisory Council, “Since the measles vaccine was implemented widely through the Expanded Program on Immunization in 1974, the number of childhood deaths from measles decreased from roughly 7 million deaths per year to now less than 800,000 deaths per year.” Dr. Hotez noted that the six million young lives conceivably saved by the vaccine every year since 1974—150 million total—is in number greater than the estimated toll from all wars during the 20th century.
Dr. Katz is an honors graduate of Dartmouth College and Harvard Medical School. His early career included an internship at Beth Israel Hospital, a residency in pediatrics at the Massachusetts General Hospital and the Boston Children’s Hospital, followed by a research fellowship in virology and infectious diseases. He became a staff member at Children’s Hospital, working with Nobel Laureate John F. Enders to develop the attenuated measles virus vaccine.
For 22 years, Dr. Katz was chairman of Duke University Medical Center’s Department of Pediatrics. In addition to mentoring two decades of students and residents, he established an exchange program with Oxford University and provided training for an annual succession of residents from the American University of Beirut. Having relinquished the chairmanship in 1990, his activities continue with vaccines and pediatric AIDS. He participates in the clinical research trials of the NIH, serves on their Committee for AIDS Vaccines and devotes time to the care of children with HIV infection. Dr. Katz currently co-chairs the India-US Vaccine Action Program and the National Network for Immunization Information, in addition to his onsultancies with the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control, Food and Drug Administration and World Health Organization.
Dr. Katz provided professional leadership as president of the American Pediatric Society and of the Association of Medical School Pediatric Department Chairmen. His published studies include numerous original scientific articles, chapters in textbooks, abstracts, commentaries, editorials, and reviews. He is co-editor of Infectious Diseases of Children, a textbook now in its 11th edition.
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. Sabin Institute colloquia convene leaders in academia, government, industry, and philanthropy to explore solutions to problems in vaccine research and development, and promote dialogue to prevent infectious diseases 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 one billion individuals, and is a leading cause of anemia and malnutrition in the developing world.
Background on the Sabin Gold Medal
The Sabin Gold Medal is awarded by the Albert B. Sabin Vaccine Institute to recognize individuals who personify exemplary contributions to disease prevention. The selection process originates with canvassing 300 members of the scientific community, particularly those whose specialization is in vaccinology and immunology, who submit their nominations to the Sabin Gold Medal Advisory Committee. The Sabin Gold Medal Advisory Committee is composed of previous winners and is chaired by Maj. Gen. Philip K. Russell, MD, (USA Ret.), who is the seventh recipient of the honor.
Previous Winners of the Albert B. Sabin Gold Medal
1994: Donald A. Henderson, MD, MPH, Johns Hopkins University
1995: Robert M. Chanock, MD, National Institutes of Health
1996: Joseph L. Melnick, PhD (d. 2001), Baylor University
1997: Maurice R. Hilleman, PhD, DSc, Merck & Company
1998: Myron M. Levine, MD, DTPH, University of Maryland
1998: Allen C. Steere, MD, Tufts University
1999: Major General Philip K. Russell, MD, (USA Ret.)
2000: Ciro A. de Quadros, MD, MPH, Pan American Health Organization
2001: John B. Robbins, MD, National Institutes of Health
2002: Stanley A. Plotkin, MD, Aventis Pasteur
Editor’s Note: For information on the Vaccine Research Conference, visit the website of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, www.nfid.org.