The two scientists, working in close collaboration, have
devoted much of their research careers to the discovery, identification
and characterization of various hepatitis viruses, and to development
of diagnostic tests, treatments and preventive measures for hepatitis.
They were key in the development of the hepatitis A vaccine that is in
use worldwide and have also developed a hepatitis E vaccine that is
now in preclinical studies.
Drs. Purcell and Gerin continue to collaborate on studies of mutual
interest: testing a candidate hepatitis B vaccine in China; discovery of
a new strain of hepatitis D virus in the jungles of Brazil; and studies
on the epidemiology of hepatitis E virus in Pakistan.
Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director of NIAID, said of Drs. Purcell and
Gerin, "Their work is a classic model of dedication to fighting disease
across the spectrum -- from the laboratory bench to the patient's
bedside. We are grateful to the King Faisal Foundation for its
recognition of outstanding contributions by these medical researchers
and for focusing the attention of the general public on the positive
impacts such research has on public health and the citizens of all
The King Faisal Foundation was established 20 years ago in
honor of King Faisal ibn Abd Al Aziz. The King Faisal International
Prize was conceived not as an encouragement, but rather as a formal
recognition of those who have dedicated their lives to serving others.
The prize may be awarded in five categories: service to Islam; Islamic
studies; Arabic literature; medicine; and mathematics. The prize
citation for medicine states that Drs. Purcell's and Gerin's work has
had a "profound effect on the control and prevention of various forms of
"Our studies have taught us," said Dr. Purcell, "that while cultures
may differ from region to region, diseases and the suffering they
cause often are universal and, furthermore, almost always very
difficult to conquer."
Having completed medical school at Duke University and an
internship in pediatrics at Duke University Hospital, Dr. Purcell joined
the U.S. Public Health Service and served in the Epidemic Intelligence
Service of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 1963
to 1965. He studied respiratory viruses and mycoplasmas in the
Laboratory of Infectious Diseases before changing his research
focus to hepatitis viruses. He has been head of the hepatitis
virus section at NIAID since 1974.
Dr. Purcell, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, is the
author of more than 500 articles, reviews and book chapters, and the
recipient of many awards and honors, among them: the Gorgas
Medal; the Squibb Award of the Infectious Diseases Society of
America; the Gold Medal Award of the Canadian Liver Foundation;
and the Inventor's Incentive Award of the Society for Experimental
Biology and Medicine. Dr. Purcell is also an elected fellow of the
American Academy of Microbiology and holds adjunct professorships
at several universities.
Dr. Gerin, whose research has received long-term support from
NIAID, is author of some 500 abstracts and journal articles, and has
served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Clinical Laboratory
Analysis, Hepatology, the Journal of Clinical Laboratory Investigation,
and Vaccine Research. He is professor emeritus at Catholic Medical
College in Seoul, Korea, a member of the scientific advisory board of
the Albert Sabin Vaccine Institute, and an appointed member of the
Lombardi Cancer Center at Georgetown University Medical Center in
NIAID, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), supports
biomedical research to prevent, diagnose and treat illnesses such as
AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, asthma and allergies. NIH is an agency
of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Press releases, fact sheets and other NIAID-related materials are
available via the NIAID home page at http://www.niaid.nih.gov.