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NFID honors Edwards’ infectious diseases research

Nov. 16, 2017, 9:18 AM

Kathryn Edwards, MD, professor of Pediatrics and the Sarah H. Sell and Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, is the recipient of the 2018 Maxwell Finland Award for Scientific Achievement from the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.

Kathryn Edwards, MD

Edwards is being honored for her “seminal discoveries in pediatric infectious diseases.” The award will be presented during the foundation’s annual awards dinner on May 10, 2018, in Washington, D.C.

“I am very honored by this award,” Edwards, who joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 1980. “Vanderbilt has been my home for nearly 40 years and has been an amazing place to support my research, clinical care and mentoring. This is a wonderful culmination to my time here.”

Edwards is deserving of the award because of her myriad contributions to science and training, the lasting impact of her work and her “tireless dedication to the field,” said long-time colleague C. Buddy Creech, MD, MPH, associate professor of Pediatrics and director of the Vanderbilt Vaccine Research Program.

“She is truly one of the giants of pediatric infectious diseases,” Creech said.

A member of the National Academy of Medicine, Edwards focuses on the evaluation of vaccines for the prevention of infectious diseases in adults and children.

Early in her career, Edwards aided the development of vaccines to prevent Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), at the time a leading cause of sepsis and meningitis in young children. Today, protein conjugate Hib and pneumococcal vaccines have virtually eliminated Hib and pneumococcal disease where these vaccines are used routinely.

Her group’s demonstration of the safety and effectiveness of both live and inactivated influenza vaccines in adults and children helped lead to recommendations that all children under 2 years of age should be immunized against flu each year.

Edwards and her colleagues also demonstrated the safety and effectiveness of acellular pertussis vaccines and published pivotal papers on rotavirus, malaria and other important vaccines. She has also established active population-based surveillance to monitor the impact of new vaccines on disease burden and to assess the etiology and burden of pneumonia in children and adults.

Mentoring young investigators in research has been her passion and she has received mentorship awards from Vanderbilt University Medical Center, the Society for Pediatric Research, and the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases is dedicated to educating the public and healthcare professionals about the causes, prevention and treatment of infectious diseases. Its Maxwell Finland Award is named for the late American medical researcher whose work advanced the diagnosis and treatment of bacterial infections.

The foundation’s announcement last week follows another national honor Edwards received in October: the Distinguished Service Award from the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society.

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