The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) has awarded the 2023 Bailey K. Ashford Medal to Matthew B. Laurens, MD, MPH, Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s (UMSOM) Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health (CVD). The Medal is an annual accolade commemorating outstanding research in tropical medicine, traditionally presented to mid-career investigators.
Renowned as a pioneer in the field, Dr. Laurens has dedicated his career to tropical infectious diseases, focusing on controlled human malaria infection (CHMI) and the assessment of vaccines in resource-limited settings. Beyond his research, he is a prominent leader and educator in tropical medicine and global health. His vital contributions include helping to establish new CHMI sites in Europe and sub-Saharan Africa, significantly advancing the battle against tropical diseases.
His research portfolio includes pivotal studies in malaria and typhoid conjugate vaccines, heterologous controlled human malaria infection through sporozoite injection, and the complex interplay between HIV and malaria. Dr. Laurens’ significant contributions are reflected in his noteworthy publications in the following: Science Translational Medicine, Clinical Infectious Diseases, The Lancet Global Health, and the New England Journal of Medicine, among others.
Dr. Laurens is the coordinating investigator in the world's first clinical trial of an mRNA-based malaria vaccine developed by BioNTech. His commitment to underserved populations is evident as he combines clinical practice in infectious and tropical diseases with cutting-edge research to advance novel vaccines and therapeutics.
“The CVD is proud that the world now knows what we witness daily – Dr. Laurens is a talented researcher, clinician, and educator whose reach and example make the world a healthier and more equitable place. We congratulate him on receipt of the prestigious Bailey K. Ashford Medal,” said CVD Director Kathleen M. Neuzil, MD, MPH, FIDSA, who is the Myron M. Levine, MD, DTPH, Professor of Vaccinology and Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics.
“Dr. Laurens' dedication and pioneering work have helped to expedite the clinical development of vaccines and medications for significant poverty-related diseases, resulting in recent life-saving interventions in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), including the introduction of the typhoid conjugate vaccine,” said UMSOM Dean Mark T. Gladwin, MD, Vice President for Medical Affairs, University of Maryland, Baltimore, and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor. “His receipt of the 2023 Bailey K. Ashford Medal is a testament to his exceptional contributions to tropical medicine.”
The ASTMH Medal is given each year to professionals for distinguished discoveries in tropical medicine. Dr. Laurens joins an August group of past winners, including current CVD faculty members Shannon Takala-Harrison, PhD, Professor of Medicine, and Sharon M. Tennant, PhD, Professor of Medicine.
The Medal is named after Bailey K. Ashford, born in 1873 and sent to Puerto Rico after the Spanish-American War, in command of medical department troops. In 1899, at age 26, he recognized that hookworms caused the anemia prevalent among the rural populations. In 1904, he founded the Puerto Rico Anemia Commission to combat the disease. He was instrumental in establishing the School of Tropical Medicine in Puerto Rico, which later transformed into the School of Medicine.
About the University of Maryland School of Medicine
Now in its third century, the University of Maryland School of Medicine was chartered in 1807 as the first public medical school in the United States. It continues today as one of the fastest growing, top-tier biomedical research enterprises in the world -- with 46 academic departments, centers, institutes, and programs, and a faculty of more than 3,000 physicians, scientists, and allied health professionals, including members of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, and a distinguished two-time winner of the Albert E. Lasker Award in Medical Research. With an operating budget of more than $1.2 billion, the School of Medicine works closely in partnership with the University of Maryland Medical Center and Medical System to provide research-intensive, academic, and clinically based care for nearly 2 million patients each year. The School of Medicine has nearly $600 million in extramural funding, with most of its academic departments highly ranked among all medical schools in the nation in research funding. As one of the seven professional schools that make up the University of Maryland, Baltimore campus, the School of Medicine has a total population of nearly 9,000 faculty and staff, including 2,500 students, trainees, residents, and fellows. The combined School of Medicine and Medical System ("University of Maryland Medicine") has an annual budget of over $6 billion and an economic impact of nearly $20 billion on the state and local community. The School of Medicine, which ranks as the 8th highest among public medical schools in research productivity (according to the Association of American Medical Colleges profile) is an innovator in translational medicine, with 606 active patents and 52 start-up companies. In the latest U.S. News & World Report ranking of the Best Medical Schools, published in 2023, the UM School of Medicine is ranked #10 among the 92 public medical schools in the U.S., and in the top 16 percent (#32) of all 192 public and private U.S. medical schools. The School of Medicine works locally, nationally, and globally, with research and treatment facilities in 36 countries around the world. Visit medschool.umaryland.edu
About the Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health at the University of Maryland School of Medicine
For over 40 years, researchers in the Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health (CVD) have worked domestically and internationally to develop, test, and deploy vaccines to aid the world's underserved populations. CVD is an academic enterprise engaged in the full range of infectious disease interventions, from basic laboratory research through vaccine development, pre-clinical and clinical evaluation, large-scale pre-licensure field studies, and post-licensure assessments. CVD has created and tested vaccines against cholera, typhoid fever, paratyphoid fever, non-typhoidal Salmonella disease, shigellosis (bacillary dysentery), Escherichia coli diarrhea, nosocomial pathogens, tularemia, influenza, coronaviruses, malaria, dengue, ebola, and other infectious diseases. CVD's research covers the broader goal of improving global health by conducting innovative, leading research in Baltimore and around the world. Our researchers are developing new and improved ways to diagnose, prevent, treat, control, and eliminate diseases of global impact, including COVID-19. In addition, CVD's work focuses on the ever-growing challenge of antimicrobial resistance.