Pollin Prize Awarded to Dr. Samuel L. Katz for His Role in Developing Measles Vaccine

$200,000 Award – Largest of Its Kind – Recognizes Research Leading to Important Improvements in Children's Health<br /><br />NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital Hosts April 13 Awards Ceremony

Apr 11, 2007


Dr. Samuel L. Katz is the recipient of the 2007 Pollin Prize in recognition of his contributions to pediatric infectious disease research and vaccine development, especially his instrumental role in the development and application of the measles vaccine. The fifth annual $200,000 Pollin Prize, the largest international award for pediatric research, recognizes outstanding achievement in biomedical or public health research resulting in important improvements to the health of children.

Dr. Katz is the Wilburt Cornell Davison Professor and chairman emeritus of pediatrics at Duke University. The awards ceremony takes place on April 13 at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center.

"I am delighted that this year's Pollin Award honors a man who can teach us all how talent and extended focused effort, when applied toward a public health challenge, can change people's lives for the better – in his case, millions of children worldwide. When I grew up, measles was commonplace. Today, most children have never heard of it. This thrilling change is due largely to the work of Dr. Samuel Katz and his associates," says Dr. Herbert Pardes, president and CEO of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.

Dr. Rudolph Leibel, chairman of the selection panel that coordinates the administration of the Pollin Prize, says, "It is our intent that the Prize both recognizes outstanding and important biomedical research, and encourages others to pursue research that specifically benefits children." Dr. Leibel is co-director of the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center, chief of the Division of Molecular Genetics, and professor of pediatrics and medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He is an attending pediatrician at Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian.

Early in his career, Dr. Katz became fascinated with the measles virus and was instrumental in developing a vaccine for the disease using cell-culture techniques and egg inoculations. In fact, after fastidiously preparing safety-tested material for use in humans, he first inoculated himself and then his colleagues in the laboratory. After a series of clinical trials proved the vaccine effective and safe, it was licensed in 1963; by 1968 the incidence of measles in the United States plummeted to less than 10 percent. Once the vaccine was proven to be effective domestically, Dr. Katz was eager to reduce the spread of measles abroad, especially in countries where measles had mortality rates of 5–20 percent. He traveled to Nigeria and conducted studies which once again proved the vaccine to be safe and effective, even in infants who were suffering from malnutrition, malaria and other infections.

Encouraged by the results of these studies, the World Health Organization (WHO) later began its Expanded Program on Immunization in 1978, and included the measles vaccine with vaccines for diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio and BCG (for tuberculosis). At that time, the WHO estimated that, prior to vaccine availability, 6–8 million children per year died of measles, most in the developing world. In numerous trips to Central and South America, China, Japan, Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan nations, Dr. Katz advocated for the augmented use of the measles vaccine to protect infants and children. He served on committees of the WHO and other groups to foster the availability of measles and other vaccines for infants and children globally. In 2003, the World Health Assembly passed a resolution to reduce measles deaths by 50 percent by the year 2005. By 2005, the vaccine had reduced the number of worldwide measles deaths to less than 500,000.

Dr. Samuel Katz

After graduating cum laude from Harvard Medical School, Dr. Katz completed his medical internship at Beth Israel Hospital and his pediatric residency at the Massachusetts General Hospital and the Boston Children's Hospital, where he also served as a research fellow in virology and infectious diseases. He then became a staff member at Children's Hospital and worked with Nobel Laureate John F. Enders for 12 years. Together, they developed the attenuated measles virus vaccine now used worldwide.

In addition to his investigations of measles, Dr. Katz has been involved in studies of vaccinia, polio, rubella, influenza, pertussis, haemophilus influenzae b conjugates, HIV and others. He chaired the Public Policy Council of the Infectious Diseases Society of American and currently co-chairs its National Network for Immunization Information. In addition, he previously chaired the Committee on Infectious Diseases of the American Academy of Pediatrics (Redbook Committee), the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the Center for Disease Control, the Vaccine Priorities Study of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and several World Health Organization (WHO) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) panels. For five years he was co-chair of the Indo-U.S. Vaccine Action Program and through 2006 chaired the Board of the International Vaccine Institute in Seoul, Korea. He is a member of many scientific advisory committees and boards including the NIH, Food and Drug Administration, IOM, WHO, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and the Hasbro Children's Foundation.

Dr. Katz has received many honors, including the Jacobi Award of the AAP and AMA, the Grulee Award of the AAP, the first St. Geme Award of the seven academic Pediatric Societies, the Presidential Medal of Dartmouth College, the Bristol Award and the Society Citation of the IDSA, the Distinguished Physician Award of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, honorary doctorates from Georgetown University and Dartmouth College, and honorary fellowships in many international organizations. He has been president of the American Pediatric Society and of the Association of Medical School Pediatric Department Chairs, and received the Howland Award of the American Pediatric Society. Since 1982, he has been a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. In 2003 he received the Gold Medal of the Albert Sabin Vaccine Institute, in 2004 the Duke University's Founders' Medal, and in 2006 the Alfred I. duPont Award for Excellence in Children's Health Care.

Dr. Katz has participated actively in pediatric educational and research programs throughout the world in at least 15 countries. His published studies include abundant original scientific articles, chapters in textbooks, abstracts, commentaries, editorials and reviews. He is co-editor of a textbook (now in its 11th edition) on pediatric infectious diseases and has given more than 80 named lectures in the U.S. and abroad.

For 22 years, Dr. Katz was chairman of Duke University's Department of Pediatrics. In addition to mentoring two decades of students and residents, he established an exchange program with Oxford University and provided training for an annual succession of residents from the American University of Beirut. Graduates of his program hold positions at FDA, CDC, NIH, university departments, state health departments, pharmaceutical firms, research institutes and in private practice.

Dr. Katz has shared numerous scientific activities with his wife of many years, Catherine Wilfert, M.D., also an infectious disease expert, who is currently the scientific director of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

The Pollin Prize

Created in memory of Linda and Kenneth Pollin, and administered by NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, The Pollin Prize consists of a $100,000 award to the recipient or recipients, and a $100,000 fellowship stipend to be awarded by the recipient or recipients to a young investigator, selected by the recipients, who is working in a related area. The stipend is intended to support a substantial portion of salary and laboratory expenses for two years.

The Pollin family, prominent philanthropists, is perhaps best known as the co-owners of the Washington Wizards basketball team. Irene Pollin, a psychiatric social worker and lecturer in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard University, created Medical Crisis Counseling in 1980, which treats patients and families coping with chronic illness. She has written several books and articles on crisis counseling and the emotional management of long-term illness. As president and founder of the Linda and Kenneth Pollin Foundation, she serves on a number of national advisory boards and commissions in the fields of mental health and women's health, and is a co-founder and chairperson of the Sister To Sister: Everyone Has A Heart Foundation, an organization whose aim is to increase women's awareness of heart disease and provide free cardiac screenings.

Previous Pollin Prize recipients include, in 2002, Drs. Norbert Hirschorn, Dilip Mahalanabis, David R. Nalin and Nathaniel F. Pierce for "Oral Rehydration Therapy"; in 2003, Drs. Emil Frei II, Emil J. Freireich, James F. Holland and Donald Pinkel for "Development of Curative Treatments for Childhood Leukemia"; in 2004, Dr. Alfred Sommer for "Vitamin A: The 20-Cent Solution"; and, in 2005, Drs. Eric N. Olson and Abraham M. Rudolph for "Advances in Understanding Congenital Cardiac Malformations."

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital – based in New York City – is the nation's largest not-for-profit, non-sectarian hospital, with 2,335 beds. It provides state-of-the-art inpatient, ambulatory and preventive care in all areas of medicine at five major centers: NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Allen Pavilion and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Westchester Division. One of the largest and most comprehensive health-care institutions in the world, the Hospital is committed to excellence in patient care, research, education, and community service. It ranks sixth in U.S.News & World Report's guide to "America's Best Hospitals," ranks first on New York magazine's "Best Hospitals" survey, has the greatest number of physicians listed in New York magazine's "Best Doctors" issue, and is included among Solucient's top 15 major teaching hospitals. The Hospital has academic affiliations with two of the nation's leading medical colleges: Weill Cornell Medical College and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.


Bryan Dotson

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