The Pollin Prize in Pediatric Research Collection (2002 - 2009)
In honor of Abe Pollin, a humanitarian, philanthropist, businessman, and NBA professional sports team owner who passed away on November 24, 2009, I present a very special paper ephemera and autograph collection of mine. It documents the first seven Pollin Prize in Pediatric Research symposiums and award ceremonies which took place annually beginning in 2002 until earlier this year at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital at Columbia University Medical Center in northern Manhattan. The Pollin Prize was established by Abe, his wife Irene, and family.
As a former videographer at the medical center, I had the remarkable opportunity to work at the first six prestigious Pollin Prize ceremonies (and be invited to the seventh to gather materials and autographs). It was a privilege to meet Abe, Irene, other family members, all the award winners, and witness up-close one of the Pollin family's many philanthropic projects in action.
PLEASE NOTE: All the information provided here comes directly from materials I gathered at the symposiums and award ceremonies and the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital website. Enjoy.
The First Pollin Prize - November 15, 2002
The Pollin Prize recognizes and honors exceptional scientists and physician-scientists whose body of work consists of remarkable research and achievements in the areas of pediatric biomedical research or pediatric public health. Those in consideration for the Pollin Prize have made life-saving contributions to children’s health, nationally and internationally. Awarded annually, one or more winners are identified by a selection committee of prominent scientists.
The First Pollin Prize for Pediatric Research was awarded to four clinician-scientists who made seminal contributions to the discovery and implementation of a simple, inexpensive, and dramatically effective therapy to combat one of the most common life-threatening pediatric illnesses-infectious diarrhea, Doctors Norbert Hirschhorn, Dilip Mahalanabis, David R. Nalin and Nathaniel F. Pierce.
Oral rehydration therapy (ORT), originally tested in refugee camps in India and Bangladesh (then the Eastern Province of Pakistan) in the 1960s and 1970s, is now used worldwide for both children and adults. Since the adoption of ORT, the annual mortality rate for children with acute infectious diarrhea has decreased from five million to 1.8 million. ORT has had a particular impact on saving children's lives throughout Asia, Africa and South America with the largest influence made in Bangladesh and India.
The Second Pollin Prize - December 19, 2003
In 2002, Abe and Irene Pollin and their family established the Pollin Prize in Pediatric Research with a gift of $2.75 million. The Pollin Prize is administered by NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital under the direction of Pollin Prize Committee Chairman Dr. Rudolph Leibel.
The recipients of the Second Annual Pollin Prize in Pediatric Research were four physician-scientists who contributed landmark advances in the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common pediatric cancer, Doctors Emil Frei, Emil J. Freireich, Donald Pinkel, and James F. Holland.
Due to their decades-long efforts beginning in the 1950s, what was once an incurable disease now has a 75-percent survival rate. Furthermore, their treatment strategies have served as a template for numerous other successful cancer therapies.
"Through their tireless efforts which resulted in prolonged life for countless children worldwide, the four recipients of the 2003 Pollin Prize embody the true spirit of the award, which recognizes medical research that provides a lasting impact on the health of children." Dr. Herbert Pardes, president and CEO of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.
The Third Pollin Prize - December 17, 2004
The Pollins, perhaps best known through their ownership of the Washington Wizards NBA team, are also prominent D.C.-based philanthropists, and Irene is a renowned psychiatric social worker and lecturer at Harvard’s Department of Psychiatry. The Pollins’ interest in pediatric research and pediatric patient outcomes is no doubt in part fueled by the fact that two of their four children, Linda Joy and Kenneth Jay, died at young ages from congenital heart disease. These two events only deepened their commitment to helping save the lives of other children.
Honoring his breakthrough research in vitamin A deficiency among children in underdeveloped nations, Dr. Alfred Sommer was named the recipient of the Third Annual Pollin Prize for Pediatric Research. As a result of his work, vitamin A intervention – one of the most cost-effective means of reducing childhood mortality – has been used to save millions of lives in underdeveloped countries worldwide since the 1980s.
"Dr. Sommer's important discovery represents the true spirit of the Pollin Prize, which recognizes medical research that provides a lasting impact on the health of children. It was his particular genius to find a simple solution to spare countless children from misery and death." Dr. Herbert Pardes, president and CEO of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.
The Fourth Pollin Prize - December 9, 2005
Honoring their pioneering work in fetal and neonatal cardiology, Dr. Eric N. Olson and Dr. Abraham M. Rudolph were named recipients of the Fourth Annual Pollin Prize for Pediatric Research. Their work on the physiology and developmental genetics of the fetal and neonatal heart has led to effective interventions and has laid the groundwork for novel therapies and prevention.
"These two scientists and their far-reaching research have advanced our understanding of the causes of congenital cardiac anomalies and their treatment. Conditions that were once often a death sentence are now effectively treated, and often entirely prevented." Dr. Herbert Pardes, president and CEO of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.
The heart is the first organ to form and function in the embryo. Abnormalities in heart development result in congenital heart disease, the most common birth defect and the leading noninfectious cause of death in children under the age of one year.
The Fifth Pollin Prize - April 13, 2007
Pollin Prize recipients are awarded $100,000. And to encourage younger scientists, each Pollin Prize winner also receives an additional $100,000 to be given to a young investigator of their selection working on related research. To date the Pollin Prize has been awarded to 14 distinguished scientists whose collective work has saved the lives of countless children the world over.
Dr. Samuel L. Katz was the recipient of the 2007 Pollin Prize in recognition of his contributions to pediatric infectious disease research and vaccine development, especially his instrumental role in the development and application of the measles vaccine.
"I am delighted that this year's Pollin Award honors a man who can teach us all how talent and extended focused effort, when applied toward a public health challenge, can change people's lives for the better – in his case, millions of children worldwide. When I grew up, measles was commonplace. Today, most children have never heard of it. This thrilling change is due largely to the work of Dr. Samuel Katz and his associates." Dr. Herbert Pardes, president and CEO of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.
The Sixth Pollin Prize - April 4, 2008
Dr. John A. Clements was the recipient of the 2008 Pollin Prize in recognition of his seminal contributions to our understanding of how lungs hold air, and to the development of a lifesaving treatment for respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) in infants.
"In the 1950s and earlier, respiratory distress syndrome, sometimes referred to as 'hyaline membrane disease,' was the most common cause of infant death, resulting in 30,000 deaths each year in the United States. Today, this number has been reduced by 97 percent. This amazing improvement is a direct result of research breakthroughs by Dr. John Clements. His insights have helped us to understand the essential role of pulmonary surfactant in normal lung function, a discovery that led to an effective treatment for RDS and the genesis of a new area of pulmonary biology." Dr. Herbert Pardes, president and CEO of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.
The Seventh Pollin Prize - April 24, 2009
Dr. Basil S. Hetzel was the 2009 recipient of the Pollin Prize for outstanding achievement in pediatric research. His pioneering work led to the understanding of the effects of iodine deficiency on brain development – and the importance of incorporating iodized salt in the diet to prevent brain damage in newborns.
The research led him to begin a worldwide campaign to incorporate iodized salt into the diets of more than two billion people in some 130 countries where iodine is lacking. The World Health Organization now recognizes that iodine deficiency is the most common preventable cause of brain damage in the world today.
Dr. Hetzel's efforts have prevented brain damage in millions of children.
Modern Day Heroes
I hope you enjoyed my presentation, my exhibit.
I highly encourage you to find out more about each of the Pollin Prize winners - fourteen scientists/doctors whose research has most likely saved the lives of hundreds of millions of children and infants worldwide - and so were honored by NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and the Pollin family for it. They really are modern day heroes.
And if you are not aware of the additional philanthropy of the Pollin family, Google them right now.
Again, it was an honor to be associated with the Pollin Prize in Pediatric Research as long as I was, meet Abe, Irene and James Pollin, and fun to gather all the signatures and materials I did. (And I have many more paper materials to go with the above.)
A special thanks goes out to Dr. Rudoph Leibel for endorsing my collecting efforts, and helping me obtain some of the autographs of the award winners.
Do tell others about this online exhibit - especially everyone you know in Washington D.C. where the Pollins have made such a positive impact on the lives of so many people. Maybe they would like to learn more about what else the Pollins have done outside of D.C.
And thanks. c39