SAN FRANCISCO (August 30, 2010) –Nobel Laureate Dr. Baruch Blumberg who discovered the Hepatitis B Virus and developed the Hepatitis Vaccine will be honored by the Chinese Hospital and San Francisco’s Hepatitis B community. The honor will take place at the Hep B Free Coast to Coast dinner on September 16 at the Regency Grand Ballroom.
San Francisco’s Hep B Free has created an innovative ecosystem which includes over 50 private and public organizations whose goal is to turn San Francisco into the first hepatitis B city nationwide. Their successful public health model has inspired a national Hep B Free movement from coast to coast.
The 37th Annual Award will be bestowed by the Chinese Hospital in recognition of Dr. Blumberg’s contribution to improving the health of Asians. The night’s event is presented by SF Hep B Free and Chinese Hospital, and produced by the AsianWeek Foundation.
Past notable awardees include Dr. Samuel So, Director, Asian Liver Center at Stanford University, Dr. David Ho, Director of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center and Dr. James Y. Suen, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Otolaryngology, University of Arkansas & President Bill Clinton’s personal physician.
“As one of the first institutions in the U.S, to provide community screenings for Hepatitis B, honoring Dr. Blumberg is particularly meaningful for us,” said Dr. Joseph Woo, Chief of Staff, Chinese Hospital. “Without Dr. Blumberg’s extraordinary discovery, we would not have been able to help our community and save lives.”
Blumberg received the 1976 Nobel Prize in medicine for his discovery of the Hepatitis B Virus, and in the development of the first vaccine to fight Hepatitis B. His research has had a major impact on worldwide public health.
Blumberg is a professor of medicine and anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania and Distinguished Scientist at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. More recently, he has been involved in research at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, where he is director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute, which studies the origin, evolution, distribution and future of life in the universe.
“The means are available to prevent and treat Hepatitis B Virus infection,” said Blumberg. “These good outcomes can only be fully achieved if the public, and particularly populations with a high rate of infection, including those of Asian origin, are educated about the virus and take part in the program of vaccination, detection, and treatment.
“The Chinese Hospital, Hep B Free Campaign in San Francisco, along with others such as those of the Hepatitis B Foundation in Pennsylvania and other Hep B free initiatives across the nation are making the public aware of the problem and leading the efforts to solve it,” he added.
Recently, the World Health Organization passed a resolution to mark World Hepatitis Day on July 28, Blumberg’s birthday.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are more than 43,000 new Hepatitis B cases in United States each year, with the greatest incidence among adults between ages 19 to 49 years-old. Hepatitis B is one of the leading health disparities between Asians and non-Hispanic whites.
Among the Asian population the predominant mode of transmission is from infected mother to child during the birthing process. Hepatitis B can also be spread through unprotected sex and shared needles. There is a safe and effective vaccine to protect against infection from Hepatitis B.
Chinese Hospital, a community-owned, not-for-profit organization, exists primarily to deliver quality health care in a cost effective way, responsive to the community’s ethnic and cultural uniqueness. The hospital provides access to health care and acceptability to all socioeconomic levels.
Chinese Hospital (www.chinesehospital-sf.org) is governed by a voluntary Board of Trustees, broadly representative of the community, and strives to assume a leadership role in all health matters.
San Francisco Hep B Free (www.sfhepbfree.org) is a first-of-its-kind collaboration between city government, private healthcare community organizations and businesses. For ticket or sponsorship information, please go to http://sfhepbfree.org/gala.