Guyana born Dr. Deborah Persaud to Receive Outstanding Contributions to Medicine Award at 20th Annual Carah Awards on November 22


Deborah Persaud, M.D., a world renowned expert on pediatric HIV and a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore, MD, will be presented with the 2013 CARAH Award for Outstanding Contribution to Medicine at the 20th Annual Caribbean American Heritage Awards Gala to be held at the J.W. Marriott Hotel at 1331 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Dr. Persaud, is an associate professor of Pediatrics at The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, where she also heads the fellowship program in pediatric infectious diseases.

Earlier this year, TIME magazine named Dr. Persaud and her collaborators among the world’s 100 most influential people for 2013. She is also the recipient of the prestigious Doris Duke Clinician Scientist Award and the Elizabeth Glaser Scientist Award. What makes Dr. Persaud’s achievements remarkable is the fact that she overcame serious odds. She was born and raised in Guyana, where she lived until age 16. Her mother left Guyana for the United States, when Persaud was 10 years old. Six years later, she and her three siblings joined their mother in Brooklyn, N.Y. After Persaud completed high school and college, just one medical school, New York University School of Medicine (NYU), accepted her.

Dr. Persaud received her medical degree from NYU and completed her pediatric residency and chief resident at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center. She completed her fellowship in pediatric infectious diseases at New York University School of Medicine, where she was the recipient of an Aaron Diamond post-doctoral fellowship award for pediatric AIDS research.

Dr. Persaud has dedicated her life’s work to understanding the behavior of the human immune-deficiency virus, or HIV, the virus that causes AIDS and applying this knowledge to help children affected by it. As a pediatrician-in-training in New York City in the 1980s, she witnessed the devastation caused by the virus during the early days of the epidemic. Dr. Persaud saw many HIV-infected babies and children succumb to AIDS, a harrowing experience that compelled her to study this formidable foe.

Over the last 20 years, medicine has made great strides against HIV and AIDS. Yet, despite the remarkable advances that have occurred since the 1980s, today 3.3 million children worldwide continue to live with HIV and nearly 260,000 are infected during birth each year. Dr. Persaud is on a mission to change this grim picture. Insights gleaned from her recent and ongoing work promise to do just that. Dr. Persaud’s research specifically focuses on understanding some of HIV’s most complex and perplexing behaviors, including its ability to form and maintain treatment-defying viral hideouts or reservoirs and its ability to mutate and to develop resistance to drugs. Dr. Persaud has also dedicated her efforts to improving strategies to prevent mother-to-child transmission in underdeveloped countries, where children have been hit the hardest.

Over the last 17 years, Dr. Persaud has established herself as a preeminent virologist and leader in the field of HIV pathogenesis in children. Her work has influenced treatment guidelines for children worldwide. In addition, Dr. Persaud directs the world’s only laboratory to have continuously developed ultrasensitive methods for the study of the origin and behavior of HIV reservoirs in children and teens. These molecular tests offer unmatched sensitivity in detecting the viral sanctuaries that pose the greatest hurdle to achieving an HIV cure.

Since the late 1990s and early 2000s, Dr. Persaud’s research has made many important contributions to the field of pediatric HIV, including a clearer understanding of how hard-to-treat viral sanctuaries are formed in children. Her work has also demonstrated that these viral hideouts form early, within weeks of infection. Additionally, Dr. Persaud was the first to demonstrate that therapeutic HIV vaccines that enhance specific immune responses can, when used in concert with antiretroviral drugs, exert substantial immune pressure on HIV reservoirs, a finding that has illuminated a novel therapeutic pathway.

Dr. Persaud is married to William Moss, also a physician, and has three teenage children.

About the Caribbean American Heritage Awards Gala

Created in 1994, The Caribbean American Heritage Awards Gala is presented by the Institute of Caribbean Studies, founded by Dr. Claire Nelson. Over the years, ICS has recognized over 100 individuals, including the legendary Cicely Tyson; Congresswoman Barbara Lee; and Reggae Great Jimmy Cliff. The CARAH Awards Gala is held November 22, 2013 at the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Other CARAH 2013 Honorees include Jamaican Kim Watson, Vice President of PEPCO; Etienne Charles, rising star in the jazz annals, from Trinidad and Tobago; and, Jimmy Jean Louis, star of Heroes, who is Haitian. The event will follow the INVEST CARIBBEAN 2013 “Harvesting Opportunities in Agribusiness Value Chain”.

Proceeds from the CARAH Awards will support the ICS programming including production of Caribbean American Heritage Month 2014 Programming — Annual Caribbean American Legislative Forum, White House Briefing, and World Ocean Day Project; and ICS Embassy Evenings. To learn more about ICS and the CARAH Awards, please visit and


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