Thursday, May 01, 2008

Sabin Vaccine Institute Awards go to two women this year

Ruth Nussenzweig
On May 6th, the Sabin Vaccine Institute will present its Gold Medal in Vaccinology. For the first time in the award's 16-year history the winner is a woman, Dr. Ruth Nussenzweig of NYU School of Medicine's Department of Pathology. The award honors her 40 years of research towards curing malaria. From the award site's summary:

In 1967, Dr. Nussenzweig discovered that protective immunity against malaria can be induced by irradiating the parasite that causes malaria . This and subsequent discoveries such as Dr. Nussenzweig's identification of malaria's cloaking gene have paved the way for several malaria vaccines, at least three of which are currently in clinical trials. Dr. Nussenzweig has been on the faculty of New York University's School of Medicine since 1965 and has been a professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine since 1972. She has held vital positions in the school such as head of the Division of Parasitology as well as professor and chairperson of the Department of Medical and Molecular Parasitology. Currently she is the C.V. Starr Professor of Medical Parasitology and Pathology. Dr. Nussenzweig has served in the Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee of the World Health Organization and The Pew Foundation, among other groups.
You can read more about the work of Nussenzweig and her colleagues in developing a vaccine in "Malarial Dreams", a 1998 Discover Magazine article.

The Sabin Vaccine Institute will also be presenting a new prize, the Sabin Young Investigator Award, which will go to Dr. Katherine O'Brien.
Katherine L. O'Brien is a pediatric infectious disease physician and epidemiologist who earned her M.D. at McGill University and her M.P.H. at Johns Hopkins University. Following residency and fellowship at Johns Hopkins, she joined the Bacterial Respiratory Diseases Branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a n Epidemiologic Intelligence Officer. Dr. O'Brien returned to Johns Hopkins in 1998 to join the Center for American Indian Health, where she leads the Center's Infectious Disease Group, conducting clinical trials of vaccines for diseases of importance to American Indian tribes. Dr. O'Brien is also the Deputy Director of Research for GAVI's PneumoADIP, which aims to accelerate the development and introduction of pneumococcal vaccines for children globally. Her work domestically and internationally has focused on epidemiologic and vaccine studies of pneumococcal disease; rotavirus; Haemophilius influenzae; respiratory syncytial virus; influenza; and Helicobacter pylori.
Both Nussenzweig and O'Brien are well-deserving of the awards for their research, which has substantially improved the lives of others.

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