Raymond F. Schinazi, PhD, DSc, the senior research career scientist at the Atlanta VA Medical Center, is the recipient of the 2015 William S. Middleton Award. The award is VA’s highest honor for outstanding achievement in biomedical research.
He was recognized for an exemplary record of service to VA and the biomedical profession, which includes pioneering work in the development of novel antiviral drugs that now form the backbone of combination regiments used in the treatment of HIV infection.
Dr. Schinazi and his collaborators work led to the discovery that sofosbuvir, which treats and cures hepatitis C virus infections. Since Sofosbuvir was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in December 2013 more than 500,000 people have been cured of HCV. It and the other antiviral drugs developed by Dr. Schinazi and his collaborators have saved the lives of Veterans and millions of others worldwide. Dr. Schinazi is also well-known for his pioneering collaborative work with numerous scientists in the invention of drugs to treat HIV and hepatitis B. More than 94 percent of HIV-infected individuals take drugs invented by Dr. Schinazi and his colleagues.
“The Veterans now take these drugs on a routine basis and it basically keeps the virus in check or it cures the disease, and that’s quite impressive,” Dr. Schinazi said. “So it’s really a paradigm shift in the treatment of viral diseases. For the first time in history, we actually have a drug that can cure a viral disease. That for the VA is very beneficial, as well as for the rest of the world.”
The Middleton Award was established in 1960 to honor William S. Middleton, MD, distinguished educator, physician-scientist, and VA’s chief medical director from 1955 to 1963. It is given annually by the VA Biomedical Laboratory Research and Development Service to recognize outstanding contributions in biomedical and bio-behavioral research relevant to the health care of Veterans.