Vaccine Center Renamed to Honor Visionary Researcher

December 14, 2000

University of Rochester Medical Center officials today are dedicating one of the facility's new research centers to David H. Smith, whose legendary work, along with others, resulted in a vaccine that has virtually wiped out bacterial meningitis in children

The David H. Smith Center for Vaccine Biology and Immunology is part of the Aab Institute of Biomedical Sciences, located on the top floor of the Arthur Kornberg Medical Research Building. The center focuses on research designed to lead to the next generation of vaccines for infectious diseases, cancer and allergies.

The dedication ceremony begins at 7 p.m. Remarks will be made by Dr. Jay Stein, Medical Center CEO, Dr. Tim Mosmann, Director of the Smith Center, and Dr. Richard Insel, Director of the Center for Human Genetics and Molecular Pediatric Disease, who worked with Smith and Porter Anderson, Ph.D., on the groundbreaking vaccine.

Smith, who died in February of 1999, was an alumnus of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Class of 1958. Following pediatrics training in Boston and postdoctoral research at Harvard University, Smith returned to Rochester to chair the Department of Pediatrics in 1976.

During the next decade, Smith and his team tested, licensed and began producing the first vaccine for Haemophilus influenza type b (Hib), the bacterium responsible for nearly all cases of childhood meningitis. Smith also founded Praxis Biologics, a pharmaceutical company, when other major pharmaceutical firms resisted buying the rights to the vaccine. The Hib vaccine is now administered to all newborns in the U.S., and has reduced the incidence of bacterial meningitis by 98 percent.

Research being done today at the Center includes an investigation into why some immune systems - such as those of the elderly - respond differently to certain vaccines. Researchers are also developing the first vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV), a leading cause of cervical cancer, and are working on eight separate AIDS projects.

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