Dr. Arthur M. Friedlander, a senior scientist at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), is one of 33 finalists for the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal. Friedlander directed the development of new and promising vaccines against anthrax and plague and generated recommendations for post-exposure treatment of anthrax to protect the public in the event of a bioterrorist attack.
The awards, sponsored by the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service, are given to outstanding federal employees who work behind the scenes to advance the health, safety and well-being of Americans. Medal recipients will be announced on September 13.
Friedlander, a finalist in the Homeland Security category, has spent his 32-year career unraveling the mysteries of anthrax and plague infection and developing effective vaccines and therapies for these biological threats of national importance.
According to Colonel Andrea Stahl, USAMRIID’s Deputy Commander, Friedlander’s contributions to the field began in the early 1980s. His work shed light on how anthrax toxins bind to and damage host cells, and led to the development of a cellular and molecular model that is currently being used to evaluate new vaccines and therapies.
Beginning in 1990, Friedlander’s research established the definitive evidence in animal models for effective post-exposure antibiotic treatment to prevent inhalational anthrax. These studies had wide-ranging impact: They formed the basis for the Department of Defense’s preventive medicine policy for managing potential aerosol anthrax exposures; led to adoption of the same management recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and resulted in Food and Drug Administration approval of a new antibiotic for post-exposure preventive treatment of the civilian community (Source: USAMRIID).
Friedlander also directed the USAMRIID research team that developed a new anthrax vaccine, which was shown to be highly protective in animal models of inhalational anthrax. That work led to the development of new anthrax vaccines that are currently in human clinical trials under the auspices of the National Institutes of Health. In addition, he led the research effort that culminated in the development of a new multicomponent plague vaccine at USAMRIID. This product, proven effective against pneumonic plague in animal models, also is currently in human clinical trials.
During his military career, Friedlander has served as Chief, Airborne Diseases; Chief, Department of Pathobiology; and Chief, Bacteriology. In his current role as Senior Scientist, Friedlander provides consultation and guidance to the USAMRIID Commander, the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command leadership, and the Department of Defense’s Chemical and Biological Defense Program.