A research symposium and luncheon honoring Samuel L. Katz, MD, was held on November 7, 2023, at Karsh Alumni and Visitors Center on the Duke University campus. The event included four speakers who are world-renowned vaccine experts: Kathryn Edwards, MD; Stanley Plotkin, MD; Anne Gershon, MD; and Barton Haynes, MD.
Nearly 100 attended the event, which was sponsored by Executive Vice President & Dean of the School of Medicine Dr. Mary Klotman and the Department of Pediatrics. Many at the event shared their stories and appreciation for Dr. Katz and his work. Katz, who passed away in 2022, developed the measles vaccine, saving millions of lives around the world.
Ann M. Reed, MD, chair of the Duke Department of Pediatrics and physician-in-chief of Duke Children's Hospital, welcomed the audience, noting Katz's profound impact at Duke. Dean Mary E. Klotman highlighted his larger-than-life legacy, including improving the health care of children but also advocating for more diversity by encouraging female and minority physicians.
Emmanuel "Chip" Walter, MD, chief medical officer at Duke Human Vaccine Institute (DHVI), introduced the four speakers who spoke on a wide range of vaccine topics. Dr. Kathryn Edwards, a professor of pediatrics in the division of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, gave a talk on vaccine research at Vanderbilt and its impact.
Dr. Stanley Plotkin focused his speech on the importance of a cytomegalovirus vaccine and the clinical trials working on it. Dr. Plotkin is an emeritus professor of pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine (University of Pennsylvania) and developed the rubella vaccine that is in use today.
Dr. Anne Gershon, a professor of pediatrics at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, spoke about the relationships between the varicella zoster virus (VZV), chickenpox vaccination, and enteric zoster.
Dr. Barton Haynes, director of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute (DHVI), talked about DHVI's work on an HIV vaccine and the outlook for an HIV vaccine.
The symposium concluded with a guest panel consisting of Robert Drucker, MD; Dennis Clements, MD; and Cynthia Jackson, MD. Each commented on how personally invested Dr. Katz was with students and faculty. They shared interesting stories of their time working with Dr. Katz, from how he loved playing the drums to his passion for chocolate. Dr. Clements remembered one of Dr. Katz's quotes that illustrated his feelings about work and life: "He said, 'Try things. You never know what will interest yourself.'"