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Schultz Wins International Honor for Pioneering Research
Stanley G. Schultz, M.D., a longtime investigator, educator and administrator at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston, will receive a prestigious international award for pioneering research that led to the development of oral rehydration therapy for people with diarrhea and athletes.
King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand will present Schultz with the Prince Mahidol Award for Medicine on Jan. 31 at the Grand Palace in Bangkok.
"We are very proud of Dr. Stanley Schultz for his having received this most prestigious award," said The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston President James T. Willerson, M.D. "It is very well-deserved as he is an outstanding research scientist and educator.
"At the UT Medical School at Houston, Dr. Schultz has served as a leader in every sense of the word," Dr. Willerson said. "He is a mentor, educator, scientist, and has given of himself unselfishly serving as dean of our medical school over the past several years. He richly deserves this wonderful award.
"We are also grateful to our Nobel Prize winner, Dr. Ferid Murad, for his nominating Dr. Schultz to receive this honor," he said.
Ferid Murad, M.D., Ph.D., a 1998 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine, and Norman Weisbrodt, Ph.D., professor and interim chairman of the Department of Integrative Biology and Pharmacology at the UT Medical School, nominated Schultz for the honor.
"Dr. Schultz is a leader in his field, and his work has been very important," said Murad, director of the Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine for the Prevention of Human Diseases and its Center for Cell Signaling, and holder of the John S. Dunn Distinguished Chair in Medicine and Physiology. "His research was the basis for providing an effective way to orally hydrate people with diarrheal disease. It also led to rehydration therapy for athletes. The concept of Gatorade is based on his work."
Schultz was one of 59 nominated from 29 countries this year. The annual prize is awarded by the Prince Mahidol Foundation on the recommendation of an international panel of experts.
"It is quite fitting that Dr. Schultz be recognized with the Prince Mahidol Award in Medicine for his pioneering work on the physiology of ion transport in the intestine and recognizing the profound implications of his findings for oral rehydration in cholera and other diarrheal diseases," said Jerry S. Wolinsky, M.D., interim dean of the UT Medical School. "Clinical applications of his insight have anonymously benefited the lives of millions.
"We are especially fortunate for all of the lives he has directly touched over the decades that he has tirelessly committed to nurturing our institution," Wolinsky said.
Therapy Saved 40 Million
Schultz is this year's only recipient of the Prince Mahidol Award in the field of medicine. Three others will receive Prince Mahidol Awards in the field of public health. All are being recognized for work they did in the 1960s and 1970s to promote the discovery, introduction and widespread use of oral rehydration therapy. The simple, inexpensive treatment for severe diarrhea is estimated to have saved more than 40 million lives in the past 30 years.
The award acknowledges outstanding performance and/or research for the benefit of mankind and is named after Thai Prince Mahidol of Songkla, the father of King Bhumibol. Prince Mahidol worked continually to upgrade medical care in Thailand. He earned his medical degree and a certificate of public health from Harvard University and practiced medicine in Thailand. In 1929, at age 37, he died of kidney disease.
Schultz, an adviser and former dean of the Medical School, said it is personally gratifying to receive the Prince Mahidol Award because it credits his basic research as a significant contribution to the human race.
In 1962, while Schultz was a captain in the medical corps at Brooks Air Force Base in San Antonio, he started his career-long investigations on how substances are transported across membranes of the small intestine.
He found that when he exposed the mucosal surface of small intestinal tissue to sugar and sodium, a marked increase in total sodium transport occurred. This indicated that both sugar and sodium were transferred into the tissue simultaneously.
Since it was known that water re-absorption is coupled with solute re-absorption, it followed that increasing sodium and glucose reabsorption by the gut would result in rapid rehydration. To treat dehydration, a person could drink a solution of sodium salts and glucose.
"The mechanism of sodium-coupled solute absorption by the gut is now a standard model for the small intestine and the kidney," said Schultz, who holds the H. Wayne Hightower Distinguished Professorship in the Medical Sciences and the Fondren Family Chair in Cellular Signaling at the Medical School. "It's turned out to be a universal mechanism by which many nutrients and solutes are taken up by many cells. It is very important from a basic science point of view, as well as a translational point of view."
Second Time for Award
This is the second time a UT Health Science Center faculty member has won a Prince Mahidol Award. R. Palmer Beasley, M.D., the dean of the UT School of Public Health for more than 17 years before his 2004 retirement to teaching, won the 1999 award for his groundbreaking hepatitis B research.
The Prince Mahidol Award is one of numerous honors Schultz, now 75, has received. He was professor of physiology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine before joining the UT Medical School at Houston as professor and chairman of the Department of Physiology in 1979.
Schultz and his wife, Harriet, a psychologist, plan to travel to Bangkok to receive the award. He will make scientific presentations and participate in the Prince Mahidol Award Conference.
Upon his return, Schultz plans to continue teaching and will help support programs at the Medical School, including the John P. McGovern, M.D., Center for Health, Humanities and the Human Spirit and the newly established Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences.
Schultz, Murad, Weisbrodt and Wolinsky all hold appointments in the UT Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston.
By Meredith Raine, Institutional Advancement
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