Dr. Lynne Meryl Mofenson, Branch Chief, Pediatric, Adolescent and Maternal AIDS Branch, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, has received a Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal ("Sammie") for the role she has played in preventing the AIDS epidemic among children by studying ways to prevent mother-to-child transmission and working with partners to implement them.
The Sammies are presented annually by the nonprofit, nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service to celebrate the contributions of America's dedicated Federal workforce. Nine honorees were chosen this year, based on their commitment and innovation, as well as the impact of their work on addressing the needs of the nation. Dr. Mofenson received the 2012 Federal Employee of the Year medal.
Dr. Mofenson, a pediatric infectious disease specialist, helped design and conduct a controversial clinical study in the early 1990s that used AZT, then the only available anti-AIDS drug, as a prevention strategy for the children of HIV-infected pregnant women. The seminal clinical trial demonstrated a two-thirds reduction in the risk of HIV transmission from mother to child, down from 25 percent to 8 percent, and turned the tide on pediatric AIDS.
Subsequently, Dr. Mofenson chaired the U.S. Public Health Service Task Force that formulated and released national recommendations on pediatric AIDS prevention. To implement those recommendations, she worked with multiple agencies including getting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to recommend universal HIV testing for all pregnant women, the Food and Drug Administration to approve use of AZT in pregnant women, and Medicaid to ensure that health insurance covered use of the drug. Today, the number of HIV cases in U.S. children has dropped to less than 100 a year. View a video of Dr. Mofenson talking about that study and her ongoing research.
Today, she works on research and policy, expanding the clinical trials network to developing countries in Africa and elsewhere to fight pediatric AIDS. She is involved in many national and international policy and guideline groups related to HIV infection in children and women and serves as a consultant to the World Health Organization on issues related to antiretroviral treatment and care of HIV-infected women and their children.
Congratulations to Dr. Mofenson on this well-deserved honor. More information about Dr. Mofenson's research and her medal can be found on the Service to America Medals website.