HOUSTON – Dr. Peter Hotez was honored by the American Medical Association (AMA) with an honor only four Texas doctors have received: The 2022 Scientific Achievement Award.
The AMA granted the award to Hotez for his work before and during the pandemic. The award is one of AMA’s highest-ranking awards.
The award recognizes individuals for their notable work in the medical and science fields. Hotez was awarded for his efforts in vaccine development and combating vaccine hesitancy and misinformation.
“My life is about using my MD and Ph.D. and science for the pursuit of humanitarian goals, making vaccines, and countering anti-science,” Hotez said.
Hotez has a long history in medical research and teaching. Hotez is currently a Professor at Baylor College of Medicine in the Department of Pediatrics and Molecular Virology & Microbiology as well as the Dean for the National School of Tropical Medicine. He is also the Co-Director for Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development.
Hotez has been at the forefront of discussion overworld health and vaccines, proving vaccines’ significance and efficacy and utilizing tried-and-true technology to create low-cost vaccines for developing countries with a particular focus on neglected tropical diseases and even COVID-19.
“Making the vaccines that the pharma companies won’t make because they’re not necessarily big returns financially, but they’re urgently needed for public health,” Hotez said.
Hotez has had a passion for making affordable and accessible vaccines for countries that face the challenges of poverty, sickness and lack of adequate healthcare.
Hotez knew vaccines would make a huge difference in people’s quality of life. Hotez and his team utilized technology already available in order to create vaccines that could be produced in low-resource areas.
“We wanted to make the vaccines no one else would make, which are vaccines for the world’s poorest people. Because our technology approach is specifically designed for research in poor settings, we were able to plug into that pretty quickly with our COVID-19 vaccine, and now our Texas Children’s Center for Vaccine Development, which is co-headed by myself and Dr. Botazzi,” Hotez said.
Hotez has created low-cost vaccines for “neglected tropical diseases” like Hookworm, Schistamiasis, and Chagas.
His Covid-19 vaccine Corbevax has been licensed to producers in India, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Botswana with no patents or strings attached, Hotez said. The low-cost vaccines got Emergency Use Authorization in India.
“So far, we haven’t made a dime off of any of our vaccines,” Hotez said. “We did this with no patent no strings attached.”
His efforts, including fighting misinformation and an anti-science movement, have been recognized my the American Medical Association.
Hotez credits Houston and the Texas Medical Center for their incredible support.
“Being part of this incredible Texas Medical Center and Texas Children’s Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine has made it possible to actually make vaccines at an academic health center, where that’s really not done in any other place,” Hotez said.
However, there are challenges. Hotez will be the first to tell you.
“I’m public enemy number one and two for anti-vaccine groups,” Hotez said.
However, he said he will continue to push forward, saying he took an oath to serve.
“There’s no personal financial gain in this for me at all...I’m really trying to use science for the pursuit of humanitarian goals,” Hotez said.