The Sabin Vaccine Institute today awarded the 30th Albert B. Sabin Gold Medal Award to Thomas P. Monath, MD, and its Rising Star Award to Sangwe Clovis Nchinjoh, MD, MPH, in a ceremony at Washington D.C.’s National Academy of Sciences building.
Dr. Monath was selected for the Gold Medal for his more than four decades of commitment to advancing knowledge of arboviruses and vaccine research and development (R&D) that contributed to the development of several innovative vaccines including those for Ebola Zaire, smallpox, dengue, Japanese encephalitis and West Nile.
The Gold Medal, celebrating three decades of recognition, is Sabin’s highest scientific honor. It is given annually to a distinguished member of the global health community who has made exceptional contributions to vaccinology or a complementary field. Past award recipients include leaders of vaccinology and vaccine advocacy such as Drs. Barney Graham, Carol Baker, Bill Foege, Anne Gershon, Stanley Plotkin, and Kathrin Jansen.
“We are delighted to recognize Dr. Monath with our Gold Medal award for his lifelong commitment to prevent and control infectious disease and for his exemplary work on numerous vaccines that have benefitted humanity and saved lives,” says Amy Finan, Sabin’s chief executive officer. “His leadership in the vaccine field is unique in that he developed important vaccines as well as led public efforts to prepare for and address major global health threats.”
Dr. Monath said the Gold Medal stands out among the honors he has received over the years. “It was always my ambition to develop vaccines, make vaccines, do something tangible to help people. In my early career as an epidemiologist, I didn’t get a chance to develop the actual countermeasures that help save people’s lives, especially in underserved populations. That was the appeal that motivated me. It is a great honor to win this recognition, but that honor really rests on the contributions of my peers and many colleagues along the way.”
After serving as an epidemiologist and Director of the Division of Vector-Borne Viral Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dr. Monath moved to the U.S. Army to learn vaccine development first-hand and retired as colonel after serving as Chief of the Virology Division at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID).
In over 20 years in public service, he was deeply engaged in investigating emerging viral diseases, such as viral encephalitis, dengue, yellow fever, and Lassa fever, affecting underserved countries in Africa and Latin America. He was responsible for uncovering the rodent host reservoir of Lassa fever.
In the private sector, he developed a novel platform for vaccine development and brought four human vaccines and one veterinary vaccine through regulatory approval, including a second-generation smallpox vaccine. He has published more than 425 scientific papers, six books on virology and vaccine development, and has 35 patents to his name.
Sabin’s Rising Star is awarded to encourage and recognize the next generation of vaccine and immunization leaders. Dr. Nchinjoh, a physician, was selected for developing ground-breaking techniques to reach zero-dose children — those who have never received the protection of routine childhood vaccinations — in missed communities and conflict settings in Cameroon.
“With his focus on strengthening immunization and health services among some of our most neglected communities, Dr. Nchinjoh exemplifies the spirit behind the Rising Star award,” says Finan. “His contributions to identify and immunize zero-dose children in Cameroon serves as a model for other countries trying to reach those populations and can go a long way toward improving vaccination rates in much of the world.”
“I am most proud of the ripple effects from this award,” says Dr. Nchinjoh. “It’s going to help to share what we’ve been doing all these years, share the lessons, and help stakeholders adopt new methods for reaching communities. It’s also going to touch a lot of people that I work with, who will be inspired by seeing that the work we do is appreciated.”
A public health researcher with more than five years of leading and coordinating high impact multi-stakeholder programs, Dr. Nchinjoh’s findings led to the development and testing of service delivery models in sample communities in all ten regions of Cameroon. More than 8,500 zero-dose children in 20 target health areas were reached, including increasing vaccination coverage from 0% to 70% in a hard-to-reach island in Manoka district.
About the Sabin Vaccine Institute
The Sabin Vaccine Institute is a leading advocate for expanding vaccine access and uptake globally, advancing vaccine research and development, and amplifying vaccine knowledge and innovation. Unlocking the potential of vaccines through partnership, Sabin has built a robust ecosystem of funders, innovators, implementers, practitioners, policy makers and public stakeholders to advance its vision of a future free from preventable diseases. As a non-profit with three decades of experience, Sabin is committed to finding solutions that last and extending the full benefits of vaccines to all people, regardless of who they are or where they live. At Sabin, we believe in the power of vaccines to change the world. For more information, visit www.sabin.org and follow us on Twitter, @SabinVaccine.