John Gerin was born in 1937 in St. Paul, Minnesota, USA. He obtained a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University in Washington D.C. and M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. His interest in vaccine development started 45 years ago when he joined the Scientific Research Division of Abbott Laboratories in Chicago in 1965. He participated in the development and testing of more than 25 vaccines for protection from respiratory pathogens, and became Group Leader of Biophysical and Biochemical Virology at the Infectious Diseases Division of Abbott Laboratories. A year later, he left to join Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). In 1969, he founded the Infectious Disease Division of ORNL, which joined Georgetown University Medical Center in 1978. He is a Professor and Director of the Division of Molecular Virology and Immunology in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Georgetown University Medical Center in Rockville, MD. He is also professor emeritus at the Catholic Medical College in Seoul, Korea.
Professors Gerin and Robert Purcell collaborated for more than 30 years. Their extensive joint laboratory and field studies did not only lead to the discovery, identification, characterization and screening of different hepatitis viruses but also to the development of vaccines to control most of them. They were the first to show that a highly purified envelope protein from the hepatitis B virus protected non-human primates, a discovery that proved to be critical for the development of the hepatitis B vaccine. They were also responsible for the development of specific assays for the detection of hepatitis viruses, and reagents for standardized screening of blood and blood products. In addition, they developed a hepatitis A vaccine, collaborated with Professor Mario Rizzetto in the discovery of the hepatitis delta agent and discovered the waterborne hepatitis E virus in India and developed a candidate recombinant vaccine for its control. They also used relevant animal models to identify antiviral therapies for chronic type B hepatitis and studied molecular aspects of Hepatitis A virus.
Professor Gerin authored or co-authored more than 500 scientific articles and abstracts. He also edited the book Viral Hepatitis, published in 2002, and served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Clinical Laboratory Analysis, Hepatology, the Journal of Clinical Laboratory Investigation, and Vaccine Research. He is a member of the scientific advisory board of the Albert Sabin Vaccine Institute, and an appointed member of the Lombardi Cancer Center at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
In 2002, Professor Gren edited a book on Viral Hepatitis which is one of the most important References on the subject.
The King Faisal International has been awarded to: Professor John Louis Gerin and Professor Robert Harry Purcell for research on Control of Communicable Diseases.
Working in close collaboration, these two prominent scientists devoted most of their research activities for the discovery, identification, characterization and vaccine developments of various hepatitis viruses. Their achievements in this field represent one of the most remarkable and important events in the history of one of the most common communicable diseases of our time. They have produced seminal studies on hepatitis A, Band E viruses. Their work led to the development of the vaccines of hepatitis A and B which are now widely used around the world.
Their investigations are scientifically meritorious and the results of their work have had a profound effect on the control and prevention of various forms of hepatitis. In addition, their laboratories have been points of reference for many centers around the world, devoted to the study of hepatitis.