Award

Vaccine against enterotoxigenic escherichia coli ETEC0 travelers’ diarrhea

“Montezuma’s Revenge” (Mexico), the “Kurtz Hurtz” (Uzbekistan), and “Beaver Fever” (Canada) are but a few of the many colorful monikers assigned to the bane of the world traveler — travelers’ diarrhea. For most of us, the “Aztec Two-Step” is an annoyance that keeps us from drinking the water in distant lands. However, for deployed military personnel and young children living in resource-limited regions of the world, diarrhea is a very serious concern. The course of history has been altered many times over when superior military forces succumbed to widespread gastrointestinal infection. Even today, more than 70% of American warfighters experience travelers’ diarrhea, with results ranging from reduced readiness to death by distraction. Sadly, the outcome of future generations is also greatly altered by the death of 1.6 million children each year due to acute gastroenteritis.
Medicine’s considerable advances over the centuries have barely dented the problem, until now. In a major coup in the war against gastroenteritis, Capt. Stephen Savarino and colleagues at the Naval Medical Research Center have created a vaccine against the diverse enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) bacteria, a leading cause of travelers’ and childhood diarrhea. With uncanny foresight in the technology transfer process, Capt. Savarino developed a public, private, and nonprofit partnership comprised of six global signatory entities conducting work on three continents. An exemplary model for inventor involvement throughout the T2 process, Capt. Savarino spearheaded the effort from original scientific discovery to industry outreach, and he continues to shepherd the multimillion dollar process to further develop and commercialize the vaccine. Intellectual property resulting from the effort includes patents pending in the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, and the European Patent Organization.
Capt. Savarino earned the admiration of his peers and credibility with industry through more than 20 years as an innovative researcher, a tireless advocate for vaccine development, and an evangelist promoting the cause of enteric disease research worldwide. The coalition he so expertly crafted now holds the key to a future where history does not hang in the balance of gastrointestinal distress, an American warfighter can focus on the enemy across the field and not the enemy within, and an additional 400,000 children each year will be given a chance at life that fate and circumstance would just as soon take away.
Award Year: 
Region: 
Mid-Atlantic