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2013 Canada Gairdner Global Health Award goes to King Holmes for STD work

Dr. King K. Holmes, professor and chair of the UW Department of Global Health, won the prestigious 2013 Canada Gairdner Global Health Award for his work in sexually transmitted diseases, the Gairdner Foundation announced March 20.

The award, valued at CAN$100,000 (about US$97,300) is one of the world's most esteemed prizes for medical research.

Since 1959, of the 312 individuals presented with a Canada Gairdner Award, 80 have gone on to receive a Nobel Prize. Holmes said he would contribute the money to the University of Washington.

Holmes was awarded the prize for his "global scientific contributions to the field of sexually transmitted disease and their effective treatment and prevention." He becomes the 10th UW faculty member to win a Gairdner Award.

The Gairdner Foundation, in citing the award, said that today more than 35 sexually transmitted diseases have been discovered. Holmes and the scientists he mentored are working on approximately 20 of these.

"Dr. Holmes assisted in defining the causes of many major diseases and through leading numerous clinical trials, has paved the way for many standard-of-care therapies used to treat STDs today," the foundation said in a release.

The foundation laid out why Holmes received the award:

"The challenge: Sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS are among the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in many developing countries worldwide. In the early 1960s there were approximately six STDs described in textbooks and very little research was happening in sexually transmitted infections. In fact, there were not many medical centers where clinical care was offered for patients with STDs, who were left with few resources.

The work: Holmes' career has been dedicated to the study of sexually transmitted diseases. His 45 years of cutting-edge research and application of epidemiological, clinical, laboratory, and behavioral science to the study of STDs has expanded the scope of this field tremendously. Numerous clinical trials conducted by Holmes have led to many diagnostic tests and standard-of-care therapies used today to treat and prevent such conditions as human papilloma virus, gonorrhea, chlamydial infections, and genital herpes, to name a few."

John Dirks, president and scientific director of the Gairdner Foundation, told The Lancet that Holmes "brought to medicine and public health the proper means of diagnosing, treating, and preventing STDs and of understanding their epidemiology. In addition, his amazing gift of mentorship launched so many trainees to the forefront of the global health scene, which, thanks in great measure to their achievements, is now a flourishing discipline in its own right. Holmes' huge lifetime contribution has no parallel. Among the many mountains on the public health landscape he stands out as an Everest."

Holmes holds the William H. Foege Endowed Chair in Global Health. He founded and directs the UW Center for AIDS and STD, which provides patient care, training and education, research and international technical assistance in the field of sexually transmitted diseases. Holmes is also head of Infectious Diseases at Harborview Medical Center.


Contact: Bobbi Nodell
University of Washington

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