The Paul di Sant'Agnese Distinguished Scientific Achievement Award is the highest scientific honor awarded by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
The award recognizes those who have made significant contributions to our scientific understanding of cystic fibrosis.
The award was created to honor Dr. Paul di Sant’Agnese, a pioneering researcher and clinician whose legacy will be forever linked to his advancements in cystic fibrosis research.
Dr. di Sant’Agnese began his career at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical School as a young pediatric pathologist caring for children with a newly recognized disease called “Cystic Fibrosis of the Pancreas.” At that time, little was known about the disease beyond the lack of pancreatic enzymes, and his early research provided insight into the effects of the disease on the lungs. In 1946, he reported the first use of an inhaled antibiotic (penicillin) to treat children with CF.
Two years later during a heat wave in New York City, he observed that infants on the CF ward were suffering from heatstroke and dehydration. Over the next five years, he demonstrated that people with CF have elevated salt in their sweat. This finding not only paved the way for the sweat test, which we still use more than 60 years later, but also contributed to the discovery of the underlying chloride transport defect, CF genetic variants and ultimately, the CFTR gene itself.
Dr. Paul di Sant’Agnese is remembered for his advancements in CF research with the Paul di Sant’Agnese Distinguished Scientific Achievement Award.
Dr. di Sant’Agnese served the medical and CF community throughout his five-decades long career. Among his many contributions, he launched one of the first CF centers in the United States, and established the Pediatric Metabolism Branch at the National Institutes of Health, where he mentored physicians and trainees — many of whom went on to become leading CF scientists.