Douglas R. Lowy, MD, Receives Harrington Prize for Innovation in Medicine

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Douglas R. Lowy, MD

The second annual Harrington Prize for Innovation in Medicine has been awarded to oncologist/researcher Douglas R. Lowy, MD, Chief of the Laboratory of Cellular Oncology and Deputy Director of the National Cancer Institute.  

The Harrington Prize for Innovation in Medicine, established in 2014 by the Harrington Discovery Institute at University Hospitals in Cleveland and The American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI), honors a physician-scientist who has moved science forward with achievements notable for innovation, creativity, and potential for clinical application.

Research Leading to HPV Vaccine

Dr. Lowy is being recognized for his key discoveries that led to development of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. The vaccine developed by Dr. Lowy (in collaboration with Merck and GlaxoSmithKline) was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2006, and was the first licensed vaccine to prevent cancer by guarding against the sexually transmitted infection that causes the disease. It is estimated that the HPV vaccine can afford close to 100% protection, and thus, Dr. Lowy’s research has the potential to prevent virtually all of the many cancers caused by HPV.

“I can’t think of anyone more deserving than Dr. Lowy to receive The Harrington Prize for Innovation in Medicine,” said Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). “Through his leadership in the development of the HPV vaccine, he has made profound contributions to the prevention of cervical cancer.  He continues to seek ways to reduce the burden of this disease in developing countries.” 

Background and Research

Dr. Lowy received his MD from New York University School of Medicine. Between 1970 and 1973, he was a research associate in the Laboratory of Viral Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH. He trained in internal medicine at Stanford University, dermatology at Yale University, and started his laboratory at the NCI in 1975.

In addition to his own research, Dr. Lowy is a leader in promoting public health issues related to HPV-associated diseases, especially cervical cancer in developing nations. He is an effective advocate for sustainable comprehensive cervical cancer control in the developing world.

He is an elected member to the prestigious National Academy of Sciences and is recipient of numerous awards and honors including the National Medal of Technology and Innovation from President Obama in 2014. Dr. Lowy has or currently serves as a member of many scientific editorial boards, advisory boards, and grant committees.

In addition to receiving a $20,000 honorarium, Dr. Lowy will deliver the Harrington Prize Lecture at the 2015 ASCI and Association of American Physicians Joint Meeting on April 24, 2015, and publish a review in the April issue of Journal of Clinical Investigation. 

It is estimated that one out of every six cancers worldwide is caused by infection, with HPV leading to more cancers than any other virus. Infection by HPV causes virtually all cervical cancers, the third deadliest cancer in women worldwide, as well as a high percentage of vaginal, oropharyngeal, and other cancers. ■