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Jefferson Vaccine Pioneer Hilary Koprowski, M.D., Wins 2007 Sabin Gold Medal

(PHILADELPHIA) Hilary Koprowski, M.D., one of the world’s outstanding biomedical researchers over the last half-century, is the 2007 winner of the Sabin Gold Medal.

Dr. Koprowski, professor of cancer biology at Jefferson Medical College and the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson and director of both the Center for Neurovirology and the Biotechnology Foundation Laboratories at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, is the 15th recipient of the Sabin Gold Medal. This annual award recognizes the extraordinary accomplishments of those who make vaccine discoveries or employ vaccines to combat vaccine-preventable diseases. He will be presented the award by Stanley Prusiner, M.D., winner of the 1997 Nobel Prize for Medicine, at a ceremony on May 1, 2007 at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel in conjunction with the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases Annual Conference on Vaccine Research.

“The Kimmel Cancer Center and Jefferson are proud of Dr. Koprowski’s continued new  accomplishments,” says Richard Pestell, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson. “As one of the true giants in the field, whose original thinking in vaccine research has permanently benefited mankind, this honor for Dr. Koprowski is well deserved.”

Dr. Koprowski’s ground-breaking work in polio and rabies greatly advanced vaccine research. In the late 1940s, his efforts resulted in production of the first oral polio vaccine that was used extensively to immunize people on four continents. In the 1970s, his passionate interest in rabies led him to develop a new tissue culture-based vaccine that is more effective and less painful than the traditional Pasteur technique.

He has pioneered the development of monoclonal antibodies, which are used to detect cancer antigens and in cancer immunotherapy. And he has successfully used plants to produce vaccines and antibodies. Dr. Koprowski and his associates developed the first functional monoclonal antibody against colorectal cancer antigen and rabies. The monoclonal antibody recognizing antigen of colorectal cancer is used throughout the world for diagnosis of pancreatic cancer by detection of the antigen in blood.

A native of Warsaw, Poland, Dr. Koprowski initially received a degree in piano from the Warsaw Conservatory. He then received his M.D. from the University of Warsaw in 1939, and in 1940 graduated from the National Academy of Santa Cecilia in Rome, a world renowned institute for the study of music. He moved to Brazil and then soon relocated to the United States, where he eventually became the Director of the Wistar Institute, of Philadelphia, in 1957 and led it for 35 years. At Wistar he recruited top biologists from throughout the world and is credited with a major revival of the institute.

Dr. Koprowski is the author of more than 850 scientific papers and is a member of many of the world’s most prestigious scientific societies. He has also received honorary degrees from numerous universities, and is the recipient of many honors, including the Philadelphia Award, the Scott Award, and the French Legion of Honor. Dr. Koprowski is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was both a Fulbright Scholar and a Rockefeller University Fellow. He has been a continuous grantee of the National Institutes of Health for more than 50 years.

The award ceremony will begin with a 5 p.m. reception, followed by the presentation ceremony at 6 p.m. This event is open to the public.

The Sabin Gold Medal is awarded by the Sabin Vaccine Institute to recognize individuals who personify exemplary contributions to disease prevention through development or use of vaccines.


Published: 05/07
Contact: Steve Benowitz or Jackie Kozloski
Thomas Jefferson University
After Hours: 215/955-6060