The ISPPD Board would like to announce its unanimous decision to select Prof. Ron Dagan as the Robert Austrian Lecturer for ISPPD-7.
Professor Ron Dagan
Professor Ron Dagan of the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel has been nominated to deliver the Robert Austrian Lecture at the ISPPD-7 meeting in Tel Aviv, Israel in March 2010. Dr. Dagan fulfills and exceeds the two major criteria for selection of the RA lecturer. He has made sustained and significant contributions to the field of pneumococcal diseases for over 25 years. In addition, he has mentored numerous students, fellows, and junior faculty who are now in leadership positions, both in Israel and other countries.
Dr. Dagan’s interest in pneumococcal diseases began during his Residency training in Pediatrics when he challenged the traditional wisdom of treating all children under 3 months of age and children under 2 years of age with fever and leukocytosis with antibiotics. Based on his observations, he published the classic paper which provided criteria for identifying febrile children who were at low risk for bacteremia (J. Pediatr. 107: 855-860, 1985). Another important contribution made by Dr. Dagan is the description of comparative data between Jewish and Bedouin populations that elucidated the important differences in pneumococcal carriage, respiratory infections and IPD between a population resembling developing world and one living more like a developed population. He also published a series of articles on the dynamics of pneumococcal carriage and the relationship to otitis media and the effect of antibiotics on the antimicrobial resistance of the pneumococcus and other pathogens.
Dr. Dagan was involved in the clinical development of many candidate pneumococcal conjugate vaccines of various ages, doses and combinations. This line of work lead to the clinical development and to the discovery of several immune mechanisms that were not known in humans before, including: the phenomenon of common epitope suppression when multiple vaccines are administered with the same carrier, the reduced response to PCVs when co-administered with acellular pertussis (which led to the discontinuation of the production of the 11-valent T/D conjugate vaccine by Sanofi Pasteur), and the reduced response to PCVs on pneumococcal carriage among toddlers who received the OMPC vaccine and the correlation of antibody concentration with reduction of carriage. He was one of the first to describe the importance of carriage in herd immunity and the potential for serotype replacement as a result of pneumococcal vaccination. Dr. Dagan has also played an important role in developing new vaccine candidates. For example, along with one of his colleagues, Prof. Yaffa Mizrahi, who heads one of his laboratories, he developed several candidate pneumococcal protein vaccines, and founded a company (Protea), that now has a joint venture agreement with GSK in the development of protein vaccines. Dr. Dagan is internationally recognized as a though leader in Infectious Diseases, particularly in the field of pneumococcal diseases. He has published over 350 articles in peer reviewed journals and has contributed to 23 book chapters. He serves on numerous international committees and is frequently asked by WHO and other international organizations to serve as a consultant.
In addition to his scientific achievements, Dr. Dagan has been a mentor and advisor to over 30 students who have completed their dissertation under his guidance. He has mentored over 200 medical and PhD students. Many of these individuals have spent various lengths of time in his unit. Several of his students are now in leadership positions in Israel including 4 Heads of Departments, the head of Public Health Services of the Ministry of Health, and the Director General of the Ministry of Health. In his own unit, 3 of his former students are Professors who have made significant contributions to scientific literature. He has also mentored individuals from other countries such as Adriano Arguedas from Costa Rica and Oana Falup from Romania who have assumed leadership positions in their respective countries.
Dr. Dagan has received numerous honors and awards during his career including: the Samule Paula Elkeles Prize for Outstanding Scientist of the Year 2007, the Jewish National Fund and the Lifetime Achievement Award, the field of Medical Research, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. He has also played a leadership role in organizing conferences and bringing together thought leaders in various aspects of infectious diseases in order to develop recommendations and influence policy at National and Global levels. He was the President of the European Society for Pediatric Infectious Diseases (ESPID) from 2003-2006 and he has been the President of The World Society for Pediatric Infectious Diseases (WSPID) since 2006. He is also a member of the Member of the Global Pneumococcal Awareness Council of Experts (“PACE”). The membership in PACE is considered to be extremely prestigious. Only individuals who are internationally recognized for their contributions in pneumococcal diseases are invited to be members.
In summary, Dr. Dagan is a world leading expert in pneumococcal diseases who has made outstanding contributions to the field. He has also mentored numerous junior colleagues over the past 3 decades. His studies have played a major role in informing national and global policy. I can think of no one who would be more worthy of delivering the Robert Austrian Lecture at ISPPD-7.
Written by Professor Mathu Santosham
Departments of International Health and Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins University