UNC SPH Department of Epidemiology Faculty Member gets highest faculty award

A UNC-Chapel Hill HIV/AIDS Doctor has received the school’s highest faculty award.

Dr. Myron S. Cohen Director of the Center for HIV/STDs and Infectious Disease received the O. Max Gardner Award on May 9, 2008 from the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Dr. Cohen is recognized as one of the world’s leading authorities on the transmission and prevention of HIV/AIDs and other sexually transmitted diseases.

He has been honored for his international leadership in advancing HIV research, treatment and prevention in countries around the world, according to a press release. The award was established in 1949 by the will of Gov. Oliver Max Gardner to recognize faculty who have “made the greatest contributions to the welfare of the human race.”

It is the only award for which all faculty members of the 17 UNC campuses are eligible. Recipients are nominated by their chancellors and selected by the Board of Governors. The 2008 award carries a $20,000 cash prize.

Dr. Cohen joined the UNC-CH faculty in 1980 – the very year that AIDS was first identified–and has spent more than two decades building a multidisciplinary team of researchers devoted to studying the transmission and prevention of the virus responsible for this devastating disease.

He is the J. Herbert Bate Distinguished professor of medicine, microbiology and public health and has served as director of the medical school’s Division of Infectious Diseases since 1989.

He and his colleagues have built and sustained research and medical training projects in resource-poor countries such as Malawi, China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, and Russia, as well as the United States. Dr. Cohen’s team of researchers at Carolina developed sensitive assays to measure the concentration of the HIV virus in bodily fluids and was among the first to demonstrate that the presence of other sexually transmitted diseases can increase the likelihood of HIV transmission.

Their research provided the scientific foundation for the Center for Disease Control’s 2005 strategic plan for HIV prevention and led the National Institutes of Health to tap UNC-CH to help develop a safe and effective vaccine against HIV/AIDS.

Last updated May 12, 2008