ASTMH Kicks Off 2017 Annual Meeting by Premiering Its First Society-Level Medal Named After A Female Icon In Tropical Medicine

This blog post was written by Doug Dusik, Senior Communications Executive, American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH)The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, founded in 1903, is the largest international scientific organization of experts dedicated to reducing the worldwide burden of tropical infectious diseases and improving global health. The organization accomplishes this through generating and sharing scientific evidence, informing health policies and practices, fostering career development, recognizing excellence, and advocating for investment in tropical medicine/global health research. ASTMH is a 2017 Global Health Council member.

The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) kicked off its 66th Annual Meeting in Baltimore on Sunday by presenting a new honor and first for the Society: the Clara Southmayd Ludlow Medal, the first named after a female icon in tropical medicine. The ASTMH Council recognized the absence of a Society-level medal named after a woman as an oversight and announced its plans at the 2016 Annual Meeting, soliciting nominations earlier this year. The new medal recognizes honorees of either gender for their inspirational and pioneering spirit, whose work represents success despite obstacles and advances in tropical medicine. The medal was named for Clara Ludlow (1852-1924), the Society’s first female member and its first non-MD member, an entomologist with scientific zeal and tenacity who battled the odds of age, gender and skepticism of women in the sciences to advance the understanding of tropical medicine.

• Front of ASTMH’s new Clara Southmayd Ludlow Medal, its first named after a female tropical medicine icon.

The medal’s first recipient selected is Ruth S. Nussenzweig, MD, PhD, of New York University of Medicine, whose extraordinary contributions forever changed malaria vaccine research at time when it was thought that a malaria vaccine was impossible. Her work, with husband and collaborator Victor Nussenzweig, showed otherwise, paving the way for today’s malaria vaccine efforts. Dr. Nussenzweig was unable to attend the awards ceremony but her son, Andre, accepted the medal on his mother’s behalf. Also in attendance were Dr. Nussenzweig’s grandsons, Julian and Samuel.

• Back of the Ludlow Medal bearing the name of its first recipient, Ruth S. Nussenzweig.

The Society was equally delighted to have two family members of Clara Ludlow: Elizabeth Thomas and Sarah Brown Blake. Elizabeth Thomas is a second-year doctoral student in the Social and Behavioral Interventions Program, Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, and Sarah Blake Brown is a Postdoctoral Scholar at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at the University of California, Davis. Her professional nursing experience is rooted in community and public health with a focus on Maternal Child & Adolescent Health. Clearly, the spirit of Clara Ludlow is in their DNA.

Elizabeth and Sarah bestowed the Ludlow Medal on Andre Nussenzweig. ASTMH President and awards ceremony moderator Patricia F. Walker, MD, DTM&H, FASTMH, described it as a way of history connecting to the past.

The ASTMH Annual Meeting continues through Thursday, when National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony S. Fauci, MD, will deliver a special plenary session. Other highlights included a keynote address by Paul Farmer, MD, PhD, Co-founder and Chief Strategist of Partners In Health (PIH) and a chance for attendees to give back to the global health community by receiving their annual flu shot via Walgreens’ Get a Shot. Give a Shot.® campaign through the United Nations Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign.