Three Vaccine Scientists Honored With The Gold Medal of The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Sep 12, 2006, 01:00 ET from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

    PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- The Children's Hospital of
 Philadelphia recognized the achievements of three scientists today for
 their discovery of the rotavirus vaccine. Each received The Gold Medal of
 The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, an honor last awarded in 1983.
     The new rotavirus vaccine, RotaTeq, was invented by H Fred Clark,
 D.V.M., Ph.D.; Paul A. Offit, M.D.; and Stanley A. Plotkin, M.D. It is the
 only vaccine available in the United States for use against rotavirus
 gastroenteritis, a common childhood illness that is the single largest
 infectious disease killer of infants and young children worldwide.
     Rotavirus affects nearly all children at some point, often with mild
 symptoms, but in other cases with severe and potentially life-threatening
 diarrhea and dehydration. Among children under five in the United States,
 it is estimated that 2.7 million episodes of rotavirus occur each year,
 leading to approximately 250,000 emergency room visits and up to 70,000
 hospitalizations. Worldwide, approximately 600,000 children die each year
 from rotavirus.
     "By creating a vaccine that will virtually eradicate rotavirus, Drs.
 Clark, Offit and Plotkin have helped to promote the health and welfare of
 children, our nation's greatest resource," said Richard M. Armstrong, Jr.,
 chairman, Board of Trustees at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "In
 1963, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia created The Gold Medal to
 recognize those who have had a profound impact on children's healthcare in
 the United States and throughout the world."
     The Gold Medal of The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia is awarded to
 individuals or institutions that have enhanced the welfare of children
 through major contributions in medicine, surgery and other specialties;
 psychiatry and social sciences; education and research.
     "At The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, our mission pushes us to
 continually transform pediatric healthcare so that one day, we can
 eradicate all childhood diseases," said Steven M. Altschuler, M.D.,
 president and chief executive officer of The Children's Hospital of
     Dr. Altschuler added, "Rotavirus is the next step in this
 transformation. Drs. Clark, Offit and Plotkin's discovery of the rotavirus
 vaccine will save the lives of millions of children. The Children's
 Hospital of Philadelphia is proud to award the Hospital's highest honor,
 The Gold Medal, to recognize their contribution to advancing children's
     The Gold Medal was last awarded in 1983 to Gertrude Henle, M.D., and
 Werner Henle, M.D., for major contributions in diagnosis and disease
 prevention with the creation of the mumps and influenza vaccines. In 1981,
 C. Everett Koop, M.D., Sc.D., was awarded The Gold Medal for advancing the
 health of children through the development of pediatric surgery.
     Drs. Clark, Offit and Plotkin led laboratory studies of the rotavirus
 vaccine at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and The Wistar Institute
 between 1980 and 1991. Since 1991, the vaccine has been developed for
 commercial use by Merck & Co., Inc., which conducted extensive clinical
     RotaTeq was approved for licensing by the U.S. Food and Drug
 Administration on February 2, 2006. The Advisory Committee on Immunization
 Practices (ACIP), an expert panel selected by the U.S. Department of Health
 and Human Services, added the vaccine to the list of routinely recommended
 childhood immunizations on February 21, 2006. Today, the vaccine is
 available at most pediatricians' offices. RotaTeq is delivered by mouth, in
 three doses, at well-baby visits at ages two, four and six months.
     Dr. Offit is currently chief of Infectious Diseases, Maurice R.
 Hilleman Endowed Chair in Vaccinology, and director of the Vaccine
 Education Center at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Dr. Clark is a
 research professor of Pediatrics at Children's Hospital. Dr. Offit and Dr.
 Clark are also adjunct professors at The Wistar Institute. Dr. Plotkin, an
 emeritus professor at the University of Pennsylvania and Wistar and a
 former director of Infectious Diseases at Children's Hospital, developed a
 number of previous vaccines, including the vaccine that has eradicated
 rubella (German measles) in the United States.
     About The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia: The Children's Hospital
 of Philadelphia was founded in 1855 as the nation's first pediatric
 hospital. Through its long-standing commitment to providing exceptional
 patient care, training new generations of pediatric healthcare
 professionals and pioneering major research initiatives, Children's
 Hospital has fostered many discoveries that have benefited children
 worldwide. Its pediatric research program is among the largest in the
 country, ranking second in National Institutes of Health funding. In
 addition, its unique family-centered care and public service programs have
 brought the 430-bed hospital recognition as a leading advocate for children
 and adolescents. For more information, visit
     Media Contact: Rachel Salis-Silverman

SOURCE The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia