Duke Doctor Receives $100,000 Award for Lifetime of Work
DURHAM, N.C. -- Samuel Katz, M.D., Wilburt Cornell Davison Professor and Chairman Emeritus of the Department of Pediatrics at Duke University Medical Center, has been awarded the 2007 Pollin Prize for his lifetime contributions to pediatric infectious disease research and vaccine development.
The Pollin Prize, established in 2002 to honor one person annually for his or her contributions to pediatric research and to recognize outstanding achievement in biomedical and public health research that improves the health of children, is the largest international award of its kind monetarily. The award is administered through New York-Presbyterian Hospital.
Katz was selected for his role in the development of the measles vaccine and for his work to eradicate the disease in the resource-poor nations abroad. Since its discovery, the vaccine has been credited with saving millions of lives. In 2005, the deaths attributed to measles had fallen to less than 500,000 from up to 8 million in the late 1970s.
“Receiving this award is very thrilling and humbling,” Katz said. “It is an honor to be recognized for my role as one of the team of three who developed the measles vaccine and to be able to use this award to further research in the area of pediatric infectious disease.”
Katz will receive $100,000, along with an additional $100,000 to award as a fellowship stipend to a young investigator working in a related area. Katz has selected Michael Anthony Moody, M.D., in Duke’s Division of Pediatric Infectious Disease.
The award ceremony will take place April 13, 2007, at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center.
“I am delighted that this year’s Pollin Prize honors a man who can teach us all how talent and extended focused effort, when applied to a public health challenge, can change people’s lives for the better,” said Herbert Pardes, president and chief executive officer of New York-Presbyterian Hospital. “When I grew up, measles was commonplace. Today, most children have never heard of it. The thrilling change is due largely to the work of Dr. Katz and his associates.”
In 1962 and 1963, Katz conducted studies in Nigeria that proved the measles vaccine was effective, even in infants who suffered from malnutrition, malaria and other infections. On trips to Central and South America, China, Japan, Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan nations and as a member of various World Health Organization committees, Katz advocated for wider use of the measles vaccine to protect children.
“While children in the United States are fortunate to have ready access to vaccinations, we have to remember that these diseases still exist and are just a plane’s ride away,” Katz said. “Bringing life-saving vaccinations to children in less-developed countries is one of the most important things we can do.”
For more than two decades, Katz chaired the Department of Pediatrics at Duke’s School of Medicine. He won several awards for his skills as a teacher, and he served as chair of the Duke Children’s Classic, a celebrity golf and tennis tournament that has raised millions of dollars for the pediatrics department.
Katz also served as president of the American Pediatric Society, where he championed the need to treat each child as a complex human being, not just as a miniature adult. He is currently active on many national scientific boards and committees, including the National Institutes of Health, the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the National Network for Immunization Information and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.
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