Mali in West Africa today has the same tenements, unsanitary conditions, and high infant mortality rate that Manhattan experienced in 1900.

That is cause for optimism when you are Dr. Myron M. Levine, founder of the Center for Vaccine Development at the University of Maryland’s School of Medicine.

The 35-year old Center for Vaccine Development is now working on H1N1 and malaria vaccine and Dr. Levine is known worldwide for his role in developing vaccines to prevent the spread of diseases such as cholera, typhoid fever, and Shigella dysentery.

During the University of Maryland’s recent Founders Week, Dr. Levine was recognized as “Entrepreneur of the Year.”

“Myron Levine has been one of the most successful, passionate, and resilient pushers of the vaccine field,” says Rino Rappuoli, PhD, head of research for Novartis Vaccines.  “He moved the field as a real entrepreneur by being a pioneer in building the infrastructure to perform clinical trials in developing countries and by building a new institute [The Center for Vaccine Development], which was the first center to allow phase I testing of new vaccines. These two activities cleared the way for many other vaccines developed by others that without him were not going to have the opportunity to be tested.”

Under his careful guidance and extraordinary vision the Center for Vaccine Development has gone on to become one of the flagship centers for both academic excellence and entrepreneurial collaborations. Levine, the University’s Simon and Bessie Grollman Distinguished Professor, has seen his work take him from advising prestigious universities, including Oxford and Harvard, to working in extremely remote locations in developing countries. Under his leadership, the Center has successfully competed for grant and contract awards, averaging $65 million annually over the past five years.

Says Levine: “I take great pride in the emergence of the [Center for Vaccine Development] as a large, multidisciplinary center committed to the development of vaccines and, in particular, vaccines to fight the infectious diseases that afflict impoverished populations in the developing world.”

In accepting the award, Levine said his career has been “a fantastic run.”