May 4, 2009
The Sabin Vaccine Institute congratulates Rino Rappuoli, PhD (center, with attending past recipients), the 2009 winner of the Albert B. Sabin Gold Medal Award. This prestigious award recognizes a distinguished member of the research community who has made extraordinary contributions in the field of vaccinology or a complementary field. The Medal is the highest scientific honor given by the Sabin Vaccine Institute and commemorates the legacy of the late Dr. Albert B. Sabin, the developer of the oral live virus polio vaccine.
In the mid-1980s, Dr. Rappuoli genetically detoxifyied the complex Bordetella pertussis toxin, an accomplishment that impressed vaccinologists, bacterial pathogeneticists and molecular biologists alike. In 1992, Dr. Rappuoli made an extraordinary contribution to the vaccine field with his work on the precise site-directed mutagenesis of Escherichia coli heat-labile enterotoxins. During the same time period, he also made significant contributions to the meningococcal C conjugate vaccine used to virtually eliminate invasive Group C disease from the UK population, and helped to unravel the pathogenesis of Helicobacter pylori infection and disease at the molecular level.
In spite of all of these achievements, what may be Dr. Rappuoli’s most enduring and historic legacy is his use of "reverse vaccinology" or in silico vaccinology. This work has led to a protein-based vaccine against group B meningococci that is currently in Phase 3 clinical trials. More importantly, it represents a paradigm shift that could lead to new vaccines for several devastating diseases.
"It is an honor for the Sabin Vaccine Institute to present Dr. Rappuoli with our Gold Medal Award. Dr. Rappuoli’s accomplishments are extraordinary because they are not limited to one scientific field. In fact, they blur and erase those boundaries with their very scope and breadth," said Dr. Peter Hotez M.D., Ph.D., President of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, and Distinguished Research Professor at the George Washington University School of Medicine. "His use of ‘reverse vaccinology’ has left an indelible mark on the vaccine world and, ultimately, could improve the lives of countless people. Dr. Sabin’s legacy truly lives on in the work of dedicated researchers like Dr. Rappuoli."
Dr. Rappuoli is currently the Global Head of Vaccines Research for Novartis Vaccines & Diagnostics, where he has helped to establish the Novartis Vaccines Institute for Global Health. He is a member of numerous international associations, including the European Molecular Biology Organization and the American Society for Microbiology and is recipient of several prestigious awards, including the Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize. He also serves as a member of the research directors group of the European Commission and was recently elected to the National Academy of Sciences.
The Albert B. Sabin Gold Medal Award will be presented to Dr. Rappuoli at the Twelfth Annual Conference on Vaccine Research in Baltimore, Maryland.
About Sabin Vaccine Institute
Sabin Vaccine Institute is a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to reducing human suffering from infectious and neglected diseases. Through its efforts in vaccine research, development and advocacy, Sabin works to provide greater access to vaccines and essential medicines for millions mired in pain, poverty and despair. Founded in 1993 in honor of Dr. Albert B. Sabin, discoverer of the oral polio vaccine, the Sabin Vaccine Institute works with prestigious institutions, scientists, medical professionals, and organizations to provide short and long-term solutions that result in healthier individuals, families and communities around the globe.