The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Paul A. Offit, MD, was recently lauded for his more than three decades of vaccine research and advocacy with back-to-back honors from two separate organizations. In February the blog Vaccine Nation named Dr. Offit one of the 50 most influential people in vaccines, and just recently he was awarded the 2013 Maxwell Finland Award for Scientific Achievement, given annually by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID).
Along with late CHOP researcher Fred C. Clark, DVM, PhD, and University of Pennsylvania Emeritus Professor Stanley A. Plotkin, MD, Dr. Offit is a co-creator of the rotavirus vaccine Rotateq. Prior to the invention of Rotateq, thousands of children in the U.S. were hospitalized with rotavirus each year, and the drug is credited with saving hundreds of thousands of lives a year worldwide.
Dr. Offit is also a tireless champion of the safety and necessity of vaccinations, and his willingness to speak his mind has earned him many vocal critics over the years. He is currently the director of CHOP’s Vaccine Education Center and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases.
Vaccine Nation conducted a survey of its subscribers, Linkedin group members, and contacts to compile its list of the top 50 people in vaccines. Dr. Offit, who was named the sixth most influential person, is joined on the list by Dr. Plotkin, as well as the philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates.
Dr. Offit’s award from the NIFID, meanwhile, “recognizes scientists who have made outstanding contributions to the understanding of infectious diseases or public health.” Past winners of the award include Dr. Plotkin, the tennis star and AIDS advocate Arthur Ashe, and former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, MD. According to its website, the Bethesda, Md.-based NFID works to educate “the public and healthcare professionals about the causes, treatment, and prevention of infectious diseases.”
Calling Dr. Offit “an impassioned advocate for immunizations,” the NFID award citation noted that he “has rallied the scientific counteroffensive against those who would denigrate the power and worth of vaccines.”
Dr. Offit’s “legacy must include both the hundreds of thousands of lives already saved by the rotavirus vaccine, and the millions more that will be saved by his advocacy for prudent vaccine policy,” said Vijay B. Samant, president and CEO of Vical, a San Diego, Calif.-based drug and vaccine development company.
To learn more about how vaccines changed medicine, their safety, and how they work, see the Vaccine Education Center’s website.