John F. Modlin, MD, professor emeritus and former chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine and Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center—a pre-eminent leader in vaccine research, development, and implementation for more than four decades—received the 2023 D.A. Henderson Award for Outstanding Contributions to Public Health for his long public health service and leadership in advancing vaccine safety and public policy.
Given during the Infectious Diseases Society of America’s (IDSA) annual meeting in Boston, MA, this award honors the memory of Donald A. Henderson, MD, a physician, epidemiologist, and public health expert who is widely credited for the success of the global smallpox program and recognizes a lifetime of achievement in public health. His work represents the profound impact that infectious disease physicians and scientists can have in preventing disease and relieving human suffering.
Throughout his career in public health and academic medicine Modlin led studies on several vaccines of public health importance including measles, rubella, polio, and influenza vaccines. In the 1980s he designed and conducted clinical trials that enabled and encouraged the transition from oral polio vaccine to inactivated polio vaccine in the United States for routine childhood immunization, a step soon followed by most developed countries. More recently, while at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, he contributed to the development of a novel oral poliovirus vaccine designed to reduce the risk of adverse events from the current vaccine and support global eradication of poliomyelitis.
Long an advocate for sound public policy, Modlin has chaired both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the Food and Drug Administration Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee. He led the ACIP during a critical time when the nation confronted potential bioterrorism threats from smallpox and anthrax, a role requiring both scientific expertise and diplomacy due to intense public attention and political pressure.
For full award descriptions, recipient biographies and information about other awards given to Society members this year, please visit www.idsociety.org/about-idsa/society-awards/.
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