June 24, 2005

Sell’s Pediatrics work lands lifetime achievement award

Featured Image

Sarah Sell, M.D., professor of Pediatrics, emerita, center, with Mildred Stahlman, M.D., professor of Pediatrics, left, and Kathy Edwards, M.D., professor of Pediatrics, at a recent event honoring Sell’s contributions to the department.
photo by Dana Johnson

The Department of Pediatrics has honored Sarah Sell, M.D., professor of Pediatrics, emerita, with a lifetime achievement award. Sell is well known as one of the key players in the development of the childhood vaccine to protect against Haemophilus influenza type B (HIB).

Her initiatives led to the licensure of the several conjugated HIB vaccines in the late 80s and early 90s. These vaccines have been effective at virtually eliminating this devastating disease in young children in the United States. Sell is also known for her work with the bacteria associated with otitis media (middle ear infections).

Twenty years ago, Sell, along with Peter F. Wright, M.D., professor of Pediatrics, began evaluating the causes of ear infections in children and demonstrated the important role that viruses play in making children susceptible.

"They began some of the initial trials in the use of a vaccine to prevent ear infections," said Kathy Edwards, M.D., professor of Pediatrics and director of the Division of Pediatric Clinical Research. Sell earned her M.D. from Vanderbilt in 1948, and joined the faculty in 1954.