PAHEF at WorkLinks and ResourcesPublicationsPALTEX
About the Foundation
Make A Difference
Grants Program
International Awards

“Our goal must be a world in which good health is a pillar of individual well-being, national progress, and international stability and peace. This cannot be achieved without partnerships involving governments, international organizations, the business community, and civil society.”

— Kofi A. Annan, ex-Secretary-General of the United Nations

Rewarding Excellence, Encouraging Leadership... » The Abraham Horwitz Award for Leadership in Inter-American Health 

Ruth Sonntag Nussenzweig, M.D., Ph.D., and Victor Nussenzweig, M.D., Ph.D., a husband and wife research team, were selected to receive the 1985 Abraham Horwitz Award in Inter-American Health in 1985. They were recognized for their pioneering research showing an immune response against the malaria parasite and thus laying the groundwork for developing vaccines against malaria.

Left to right: Prof. Abel Wolman, PAHEF board member. Dr. Ruth S. Nussweig, 1985 winner. Dr. Carlyle Guerra de Macedo, PAHO Director (1983-1995). Dr. Victor Nussweig, 1985 winner. Dr. Abraham Horwitz, PAHEF President. Mr. Clarence H. Moore, PAHEF executive director.

The Nussenzweigs first collaborated in research while in medical school at University of Sao Paulo in Brazil. Together during their third year in medical school, they discovered a way to kill Trypanosoma cruzi, the parasite which causes Chagasí disease and often infectes blood meant for transfusions. In 1967, Ruth Nussenzweig made the first of a series of pivotal discoveries; she found that one could inactivate the malaria parasite at the stage in its life cycle before it enters the human liver by irradiating it and thereby inducing protective immunity. Since then, the wife and husband team have dedicated their work to identify the protective antigens that irradiated parasites could deliver. They observed in 1981 that the CS protein induces immunity, which led to clinical trials of the first malaria vaccine.

Born in Austria, Dr. Ruth Nussenzweig received her M.D. degree in 1953 and her Ph.D. degree in 1968 from the University of Sao Paulo School of Medicine in Brazil. A native of Sao Paulo, Brazil, Victor Nussenzweig received his M.D. from the University of Sao Paulo School of Medicine in 1953 and his Ph.D. in 1957. In 1964, they moved to the United States where they were professors in New York University's School of Medicine. They remain active in their research and continue their professorships at NYU.