The 2015 Harrington Prize for Innovation in Medicine: Douglas R. Lowy, MD

Harrington Discovery Institute and The American Society for Clinical Investigation honor National Cancer Institute’s researcher Douglas R. Lowy, MD

The second annual Harrington Prize for Innovation in Medicine has been awarded to oncologist and researcher Douglas R. Lowy, MD, Chief, 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 (UH) in Cleveland, Ohio 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.

Dr. Lowy is being recognized for his key discoveries that led to development of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to prevent cancer. The vaccine developed by Dr. Lowy (in collaboration with Merck and GlaxoSmithKline), and approved by the FDA in 2006, 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.

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.

“I can’t think of anyone more deserving than Doug 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, Doug 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.”

“Dr. Lowy is an exemplary physician-scientist. His research with former trainee John Schiller helped to identify key aspects of the biology of HPV that guided development and ultimately FDA approval for a vaccine that has significantly improved human health globally,” said Mukesh K. Jain, MD, Scientific Director of the Harrington Discovery Institute and current President of the ASCI.

A committee composed of members of the ASCI Council and the Harrington Discovery Institute Scientific Advisory Board reviewed more than 60 nominations from eight countries before selecting Dr. Lowy as the recipient.

“We are pleased to join with the ASCI to honor Dr. Lowy and his team’s remarkable contribution to medicine,” said Jonathan Stamler, MD, Director of the Harrington Discovery Institute and the Robert S. and Sylvia K. Reitman Distinguished Chair in Cardiovascular Innovation at UH Case Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. “Dr. Lowy has made a difference and thus serves as a role model for all of us hoping to see our discoveries advanced into medicines that impact the lives of our patients.”

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, and publish a review in the April issue of Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Dr. Lowy received his M.D. 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 and 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.

The first recipient of the Harrington Prize for Innovation in Medicine was Dr. Harry Dietz, a pediatric cardiologist and genetics researcher from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. The Prize recognized Dr. Dietz’s contributions to the understanding of biology and treatment of aortic aneurysms and other connective tissue disorders.

The American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI), established in 1908, is one of the nation’s oldest and most respected medical honor societies. The ASCI is dedicated to the advancement of research that extends the understanding and improves the treatment of human diseases, and its members are committed to mentoring future generations of physician-scientists.

The Harrington Discovery Institute, part of a national initiative unveiled in February 2012 called The Harrington Project for Discovery & Development, is a nonprofit medical institute dedicated to physician-scientists, enabling them to transform breakthrough insights into novel therapies that enhance patient care. The Harrington Project is fueled by $250 million in donations and other funding, including $50 million from the Harrington Family.

About University Hospitals
University Hospitals, the second largest employer in Northeast Ohio with 25,000 employees, serves the needs of patients through an integrated network of 15 hospitals, 29 outpatient health centers and primary care physician offices in 15 counties. At the core of our $3.5 billion health system is University Hospitals Case Medical Center, ranked among America’s 50 best hospitals by U.S. News & World Report in all 12 methodology-ranked specialties. The primary affiliate of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, UH Case Medical Center is home to some of the most prestigious clinical and research centers of excellence in the nation, including cancer, pediatrics, women’s health, orthopaedics, radiology, neuroscience, cardiology and cardiovascular surgery, digestive health, transplantation and genetics. Its main campus includes UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, ranked among the top children’s hospitals in the nation; UH MacDonald Women’s Hospital, Ohio’s only hospital for women; and UH Seidman Cancer Center, part of the NCI-designated Case Comprehensive Cancer Center at Case Western Reserve University. For more information, go to