search icon
Join IDSAJOIN IDSA >> Go to MyIDSAGO TO MYIDSA >>
  • Print
  • ShareThis
  • Text Size

The D.A. Henderson Award for Outstanding Contributions to Public Health


Current Winner

WMasonF. MARC LaFORCE, MD, FIDSA, who spearheaded the development of a vaccine that has greatly reduced group A meningococcal disease, is the recipient of IDSA’s inaugural D.A. Henderson Award for Outstanding Contributions to Public Health. Named to honor the memory of Dr. Henderson, who led the successful eradication of smallpox, this new award recognizes a lifetime of achievement in public health.

Meningitis epidemics caused by group A Neisseria meningitidis have long been a serious public health threat in sub-Saharan Africa. Following a major outbreak in the region in the mid-1990s, in which about 250,000 people were sickened and 25,000 died, Dr. LaForce became director of the newly formed Meningitis Vaccine Project, a unique partnership between PATH and the World Health Organization (WHO), supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, with the goal of developing an affordable vaccine . With little interest from large pharmaceutical companies, Dr. LaForce devised a novel strategy that brought together a vaccine manufacturer in India and other partners across four continents to develop and deliver a vaccine at less than one-tenth of the cost usually required to bring a new vaccine to market.

Under his leadership from 2001 to 2012, the project successfully developed, tested, licensed, and introduced a safe and effective conjugate meningococcal vaccine, MenAfriVac, available at less than 50 cents (US) per dose. The vaccine was first introduced in 2010 in F. Marc LaForce, MD, FIDSA Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger. By the end of 2016, more than 320 million young Africans in the 26 countries that make up the continent’s “meningitis belt” were expected to have received the vaccine— preventing an estimated 1.3 million cases of disease, 250,000 cases of disability, and 130,000 deaths.

Dr. LaForce’s contributions to public health began in the 1960s, when he was an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Over the next several decades, he continued to work as a consultant, participating in the smallpox eradication program, WHO’s Expanded Program on Vaccination, and projects to combat childhood communicable diseases in Africa and Asia. During this time, he also held research and academic positions at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in New York. In addition, he served in several clinical leadership roles at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Denver.

Since 2012, Dr. LaForce has been the director of technical services for the Serum Institute of India, Ltd., the manufacturer of MenAfriVac, based in the US. He is also a clinical professor of medicine at New York University School of Medicine. After earning a medical degree from Seton Hall College of Medicine and Dentistry in New Jersey, he completed his internal medicine and infectious disease training on the Harvard Service at Boston City Hospital. A fellow of the American College of Physicians, he has received numerous honors, including the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Humanitarian Award from the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases and the Albert B. Sabin Gold Medal Award from the Sabin Vaccine Institute.

A visionary leader who was the driving force behind a groundbreaking, low-cost vaccine that today protects hundreds of millions of people from death and disability, Dr. LaForce has had a tremendous impact on the world’s health. IDSA is pleased to recognize his outstanding contributions to public health with the 2017 D.A. Henderson Award.


| HIVMA | Contact Us

© Copyright IDSA 2018 Infectious Diseases Society of America

Full Site Mobile Site