Social Work Persons of the Year
Maria Elena Bottazzi, Ph.D. is Associate Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine, Professor of Pediatrics, Molecular Virology & Microbiology, Division Chief of Pediatric Tropical Medicine and Co-director of Texas Children's Center for Vaccine Development at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and Distinguished Professor in Biology at Baylor University in Waco. She is an internationally recognized tropical and emerging disease vaccinologist, global health advocate and co-creator of a patent-free, open science COVID-19 vaccine technology that led to the development of CORBEVAX, a COVID-19 vaccine for the world. She pioneers and leads the advancement of a robust infectious and tropical disease vaccine portfolio tackling diseases such as coronavirus, hookworm, schistosomiasis, and Chagas that affect disproportionally the world's poorest populations. She also has established innovative partnerships in Latin America, Middle East and Southeast Asia, making significant contributions to innovative educational & research programs, catalyze policies and disseminate science information to reach a diverse set of audiences. As global thought-leader she has received national and international highly regarded awards, has more than 280 scientific papers and participated in more than 250 conferences worldwide. She is Member of the National Academy of Science of Honduras and Emerging Leader in Health and Medicine of the National Academy of Medicine in the US. Dr. Bottazzi is a Fellow of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH), the Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine (ELAM), the Leshner Leadership Institute for Public Engagement and Sr. Fellow of the American Leadership Forum (ALF). Forbes LATAM in 2020 and 2021 selected Dr. Bottazzi as one of 100 Most Powerful Women in Central America. Dr. Bottazzi has served in several National Academies Ad-hoc Committees and serves as Co-chair of the Vaccines and Therapeutics Taskforce of the Lancet Commission on COVID-19. In 2022, alongside Dr. Peter Hotez, she was nominated by Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher of Texas for the Nobel Peace Prize. Dr. Bottazzi obtained her bachelor's degree in Microbiology and Clinical Chemistry from the National Autonomous University of Honduras and a doctorate in Molecular Immunology and Experimental Pathology from the University of Florida. Her post-doctoral training in Cellular Biology was completed at University of Miami and Pennsylvania, where afterwards worked at the George Washington University prior to relocating to Texas.
Peter J. Hotez, M.D., Ph.D. is Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine and Professor of Pediatrics and Molecular Virology & Microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine where he is also the Co-director of the Texas Children's Center for Vaccine Development (CVD) and Texas Children's Hospital Endowed Chair of Tropical Pediatrics. He is also University Professor at Baylor University, Fellow in Disease and Poverty at the James A Baker III Institute for Public Policy, Senior Fellow at the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs at Texas A&M University, Faculty Fellow with the Hagler Institute for Advanced Studies at Texas A&M University, and Health Policy Scholar in the Baylor Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy. Dr. Hotez is an internationally recognized physician-scientist in neglected tropical diseases and vaccine development. As co-director of the Texas Children's CVD, he leads a team and product development partnership for developing new vaccines for hookworm infection, schistosomiasis, leishmaniasis, Chagas disease, and SARS/MERS/SARS-2 coronavirus, diseases affecting hundreds of millions of children and adults worldwide, while championing access to vaccines globally and in the United States. In December 2021, Dr. Hotez led efforts at the Texas Children's Center for Vaccine Development to develop a low-cost recombinant protein COVID vaccine for global health, resulting in emergency use authorization in India. He obtained his undergraduate degree in molecular biophysics from Yale University in 1980 (phi beta kappa), followed by a Ph.D. degree in biochemistry from Rockefeller University in 1986, and an M.D. from Weil Cornell Medical College in 1987. Dr. Hotez has authored more than 600 original papers and is the author of five single-author books, including Forgotten People, Forgotten Diseases (ASM Press); Blue Marble Health: An Innovative Plan to Fight Diseases of the Poor amid Wealth (Johns Hopkins University Press); Vaccines Did Not Cause Rachel's Autism (Johns Hopkins University Press); and Preventing the Next Pandemic: Vaccine Diplomacy in a Time of Anti-science (Johns Hopkins University Press). Dr. Hotez served previously as President of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene and he is founding Editor-in-Chief of PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases. In 2006 at the Clinton Global Initiative he co-founded the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases to provide access to essential medicines for hundreds of millions of people. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine (Public Health Section) and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences (Public Policy Section). In 2011, he was awarded the Abraham Horwitz Award for Excellence in Leadership in Inter-American Health by the Pan American Health Organization of the WHO. In 2014-16, he served in the Obama Administration as US Envoy, focusing on vaccine diplomacy initiatives between the US Government and countries in the Middle East and North Africa. In 2018, he was appointed by the US State Department to serve on the Board of Governors for the US Israel Binational Science Foundation, and is frequently called upon frequently to testify before US Congress. He has served on infectious disease task forces for two consecutive Texas Governors. For these efforts in 2017 he was named by FORTUNE Magazine as one of the 34 most influential people in health care, while in 2018 he received the Sustained Leadership Award from Research!America. In 2019 he received the Ronald McDonald House Charities Award for Medical Excellence. Most recently as both a vaccine scientist and autism parent, he has led national efforts to defend vaccines and to serve as an ardent champion of vaccines going up against a growing national “antivax" threat. In 2019, he received the Award for Leadership in Advocacy for Vaccines from the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. In 2021 he was recognized by scientific leadership awards from the AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) and the AMA (American Medical Association), in addition to being recognized by the Anti-Defamation League with its annual Popkin Award for combating antisemitism. Dr. Hotez appears frequently on television (including BBC, CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC), radio, and in newspaper interviews (including the New York Times, USA Today, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal).