The highlight of the evening was the presentation of the Foundation’s “Distinguished Scientist Award 2009” to Brian J. McMahon, M.D., Scientific Program and Clinical Director of the Liver Disease and Hepatitis Program, Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage, AK. Dr. McMahon was honored with the Foundation’s highest scientific award in recognition of his extraordinary contributions to advancing the science and medicine of hepatitis B.
“The Hepatitis B Foundation is proud to recognize the accomplishments and commitment of Dr. Brian McMahon whose work is not only among the most important in the field, but whose dedication and commitment to hepatitis B care and advocacy continues to inspire and motivate all of us,” enthused Timothy M. Block, Ph.D., Hepatitis B Foundation president. “The community owes a tremendous debt to Dr. McMahon who has almost single-handedly reduced the enormous burden of hepatitis B in Alaska Native people through his pioneering work in promoting vaccination and liver cancer screening."
Dr. McMahon is internationally recognized for his research on viral hepatitis and expertise in the clinical management and prevention of viral hepatitis. He is also beloved for his career-long commitment to improving the health of Alaska Native and American Indian people. Dr. McMahon is a thought leader in the field who is called upon frequently to serve on expert panels that currently include the NIH Consensus Conference on Hepatitis B and the Institute of Medicine’s study on chronic viral hepatitis in the U.S. He is co-author of the AASLD Practice Guidelines for the Management of Hepatitis B that guide physicians nationally and internationally, author of hundreds of article, and recipient of many awards.
Nobel Laureate Baruch Blumberg, M.D., Ph.D., who won the Nobel Prize for his discovery of the hepatitis B virus, wrote in a congratulatory letter to Dr. McMahon, “I have long admired your work in Alaska in controlling the hepatitis B endemic and in providing detailed scientific reports on methods and results. Your steadfast persistence in establishing and executing the program … has saved many lives, [which is] one of the greatest goals that a physician can hope to reach.”
“This is a huge honor for me and an enormous privilege,” said Dr. McMahon in his thoughtful acceptance speech. “The Hepatitis B Foundation is doing important work and I urge all of you to continue your support because I expect great things to happen in the next several years as the efforts of the Foundation come to fruition.” In a nod to recent events in Alaska, Dr. McMahon ended on a light note by remarking, “This award is the biggest thing to happen to me since the volcano erupted!” In recognition of Dr. McMahon’s outstanding work, the guests gave him a standing ovation.
Past recipients of the Foundation’s distinguished awards include Nobel Laureate Baruch S. Blumberg, who discovered the hepatitis B virus; National Academy of Sciences members Dr. Harvey Alter, Dr. Francis Chisari, and Dr. Jesse Summers; the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; and internationally renowned scientists Dr. William Mason, Dr. Thomas London, Dr. Raymond Schinazi, Dr. Jay Hoofnagle, and Dr. Anna Lok.
Major Gala sponsors included Bristol-Myers Squibb, Bugajewski Facility Services, CCG Metamedia, Drexel University, Gilead Sciences, High Swartz LLP, Merck, Novartis, Quakertown National Bank, Univest Bank and Media Sponsor Bucks County Herald. All proceeds raised through the Gala will help fund the Foundation’s research, education and advocacy programs.
ABOUT DR. BRIAN J. MCMAHON - Dr. Brian McMahon, the Scientific and Clinical Director, Liver Disease and Hepatitis Program of the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage, is internationally recognized for his research on viral hepatitis and his expertise in the clinical management and prevention of viral hepatitis. He is beloved for his career-long commitment to improving the health of Alaska Native and American Indian people.
The direct contribution of Dr. McMahon's work on the health of Alaska Native people of southwestern Alaska cannot be overstated. When Dr. McMahon first arrived in Alaska in the 1970’s, over 10% of the Alaska Native population was chronically infected with hepatitis B and the annual incidence of acute hepatitis B was staggering. He led a program that provided the hepatitis B vaccine to all susceptible persons and started a routine infant immunization program in the 1980’s, a decade before it became a national recommendation!
In addition to hepatitis B vaccination programs, Dr. McMahon initiated a blood screening program for the early detection of primary liver cancer when it is at a treatable stage. Today, over 1,000 Alaska Natives are contacted every 6 months for screening to help prevent this fatal outcome of chronic hepatitis B.
Dr. McMahon is a thought leader in the field who is called upon frequently: he co-authored the AASLD Practice Guidelines for the Management of Hepatitis B; published hundreds of articles; provided expert testimony at the NIH Consensus Conference on Hepatitis B; and serves on the expert panel for the Institute of Medicine’s study of chronic viral hepatitis in the United States.
During his distinguished career, Dr. McMahon has been the recipient of several awards, including a Certificate of Appreciation, from the National Indian Health Board, the Indian Health Service PHS Unit Award for Hepatitis A Outbreak Control Program, and elected to Mastership in the American College of Physicians. He currently serves on the Medical Advisory Board of the Hepatitis B Foundation.
The Hepatitis B Foundation’s prestigious “Distinguished Scientist Award 2009” was presented to Dr. Brian McMahon (center), scientific and clinical director, Alaska Native Medical Center, by Dr. Timothy Block (on right), HBF co-founder and president, and professor, Drexel University College of Medicine, and Mr. Joel Rosen, HBF Chairman and partner, High Swartz LLP (on left) at its annual Crystal Ball held in Bucks County, PA (April 4, 2009).
# # #
The Hepatitis B Foundation is the only national nonprofit organization solely dedicated to finding a cure for hepatitis B and improving the quality of life for all those affected worldwide through research, education and patient advocacy.