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D.A. Henderson Award

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2018 Winner: William Schaffner, MD, FIDSA, FSHEA



William Schaffner, MD, FIDSA, FSHEA, a peerless communicator and committed proponent of adult immunization, is the recipient of IDSA’s 2018 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 award recognizes a lifetime of achievement in public health.

Highly effective at melding curative and preventive medicine, Dr. Schaffner has advanced epidemiologic science, translated that science into national health policy, and eloquently communicated these developments and countless other infectious disease-related topics to the public throughout his career. He has served on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices since 1982. During this unmatched length of service, he has provided an important and respected voice as the influential body has made recommendations about vaccine products and their use across the U.S. As a member of several organizations focused on immunization, he has been a tireless advocate for science-based evidence in debates fueled by vaccine skepticism, persistently providing both facts and reassurance.

Among Dr. Schaffner’s more than 300 peer-reviewed publications are several with a significant impact on public health, including the first demonstration that vaccination could eliminate measles from a state and an investigation of Pseudomonas and Serratia infections associated with defective bronchoscopes, which prompted a worldwide recall. Because of his unparalleled ability to hone topics like these and others to their essential points and convey them simply, he is the “go to” ID expert for many media outlets. Through these interactions, he has brought a greater understanding of infectious diseases and public health to the general public.

A graduate of Cornell University Medical College, Dr. Schaffner completed his internship, residency, and ID fellowship training at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, where he is currently a professor of preventive medicine in the Department of Health Policy and a professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases. He joined the faculty there after serving as an Epidemic Intelligence Service officer with CDC. A past president of SHEA, he has served on the IDSA Board of Directors, including as secretary; received the IDSA Walter E. Stamm Mentor Award in 2011; and has been an IDSA Joseph E. Smadel Lecturer. An associate editor of The Journal of Infectious Diseases since 2003, he is also a past president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, for which he currently serves as medical director.

Recognized as a premier ambassador of the ID discipline and a dedicated advocate for adult immunization and evidence-based policies, Dr. Schaffner has advanced the nation’s health through his research, teaching, mentorship, practice, and service. IDSA is pleased to recognize his outstanding contributions to public health with the 2018 D.A. Henderson Award.


Past D.A. Henderson Award Winners

2017 F. Marc LaForce, MD, FIDSA



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