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
"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 http://www.chop.edu.
Media Contact: Rachel Salis-Silverman
SOURCE The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia