Dr. Paul Offit Receives 2018 Albert B. Sabin Gold Medal
Tonight, the Sabin Vaccine Institute (Sabin) will honor Dr. Paul Offit with the 2018 Albert B. Sabin Gold Medal. Sabin will recognize Dr. Offit for his contributions as co-inventor of an oral rotavirus vaccine and his leadership as one of the United States’ most vocal and dedicated advocates for immunization.
More than 200,000 children under five years old die each year from rotavirus infections, the most common cause of diarrheal hospitalizations and deaths among children worldwide. Oral rehydration therapy is an effective treatment option for children with mild rotavirus infections, but many of the world’s poorest children – who suffer the greatest burden of rotavirus – do not have access to such treatment. As a result, vaccination is the best way to prevent rotavirus disease and protect children’s health.
Starting in the 1980s, Dr. Offit performed early research on rotavirus, alongside Dr. H Fred Clark and Dr. Stanley Plotkin, which led to the invention of RotaTeq®, an oral vaccine that prevents rotavirus diarrhea. Within a decade of the vaccine’s introduction in the United States, child hospitalizations from rotavirus dropped by 85 percent. In 2008, the vaccine became the first oral rotavirus vaccine to be prequalified by the World Health Organization, saving thousands of children’s lives and preventing illness in children around the world.
Dr. Offit’s contributions to protecting human health extend beyond the laboratory and for many years he has been a strong public advocate for childhood immunizations. Dr. Offit drives efforts to improve public understanding of vaccines through speaking engagements, media appearances and his books. Dr. Offit’s many books make science accessible to lay audiences worldwide, highlighting the history of immunization, tackling vaccine myths and reinforcing the message that science is not a matter of faith but a matter of fact.
“Paul’s contributions as a vaccinologist and advocate have improved the health of children in every corner of the world,” said Amy Finan, chief executive officer of the Sabin Vaccine Institute. “His scientific accomplishments are rivaled only by his impact as a dedicated advocate for immunization. Paul truly exemplifies Albert Sabin’s commitment to ensuring every child is protected from preventable disease. It is an honor to present Paul with this year’s Albert B. Sabin Gold Medal.”
“It’s an honor to join the distinguished ranks of Albert B. Sabin Gold Medal recipients,” said Dr. Offit. “Though our research may have focused on different diseases, we all share Dr. Sabin’s commitment to reducing human suffering. We have accomplished so much, discovering and introducing several vaccines that have reshaped the world as we know it, but vaccines will always be a victim of their own success. As once-common diseases disappear, it is increasingly important to stand as vaccine champions. I thank the Sabin Vaccine Institute for recognizing my research and advocacy with tonight’s award, and for its efforts to expand immunization globally.”
Dr. Offit currently serves as the Maurice R. Hilleman professor of vaccinology and a professor of pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. He has received numerous international and national awards for his work and has published more than 160 papers in medical and scientific journals in the areas of rotavirus-specific immune responses and vaccine safety.
The 2018 Albert B. Sabin Gold Medal ceremony will take place at the National Academy of Sciences building in Washington, D.C. Dr. Offit is the fourth Sabin Gold Medal recipient recognized for medical research contributions to rotavirus vaccines, following Stanley Plotkin, M.D. (2002), Albert Z. Kapikian, M.D. (2005) and Roger I. Glass M.D., Ph.D. (2015).
Awarded annually since 1994, the Albert B. Sabin Gold Medal recognizes those that have made extraordinary contributions in the field of vaccinology or a complementary field. The award commemorates the legacy of Dr. Albert B. Sabin, who developed the oral live virus polio vaccine that is widely heralded with making a huge contribution to the near eradication of polio worldwide. This year marks the 25th year that the Sabin Vaccine Institute has bestowed the award. Past participants of this award include D.A. Henderson, Maurice Hilleman, Roger Glass and Ciro de Quadros, who later served as Sabin’s executive vice president.
The 2018 Albert B. Sabin Gold Medal ceremony was made possible in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Learn more about Dr. Offit in this Q&A.
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 more than two 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.