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Myron S. Cohen, MD, a UNC physician and scientist who is internationally recognized for his work studying the transmission and prevention of HIV/AIDS, has received the 2013 North Carolina Award for Science.

The North Carolina Award is the state’s highest civilian honor. Since 1964, awards have been given annually in four categories: fine arts, literature, public service and science. Previous recipients include Maya Angelou, Charles Kuralt, Charlie Rose and Oliver Smithies.

Governor Pat McCrory will present awards to six distinguished North Carolinians on Thursday, Nov. 21, at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel and Convention Center in Durham, N.C.

Cohen, who is Yeargan-Bate Eminent Professor of Medicine, Microbiology and Immunology, and Epidemiology, arrived at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in 1980, just as AIDS was first identified. He and his multidisciplinary team of researchers developed sensitive tests to measure the concentration of HIV in bodily fluids and were among the first to demonstrate that other sexually transmitted infections can increase the likelihood of HIV transmission.

Cohen also directs the Institute for Global Health & Infectious Diseases at UNC.

Cohen is the architect and principal investigator of the multinational clinical trial, HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) 052. The study showed that early treatment of HIV infection with antiretroviral therapy prevents sexual transmission of the virus by at least 96 percent. This work was recognized by Science Magazine in 2011 as the “Breakthrough of the Year,” and inspires hope for an AIDS-free generation.

“The UNC community is so pleased for this recognition of Dr. Cohen’s remarkable achievements in the field of science,” said William L. Roper, MD, MPH, Dean of the UNC School of Medicine. “His life’s work to stop the spread of HIV infection is truly an outstanding example of the impact clinical research can have on millions of people’s health and wellbeing.”

In addition to Cohen’s award for science, the 2013 honorees include John E. Cram, of Asheville, for Fine Arts; John M. H. Hart Jr., of Keswick, Va., for Literature; Phillip J. Kirk Jr., of Raleigh, Dr. John Harding Lucas, of Durham, and Dr. Walt Wolfram, of Cary, all for Public Service. The awards are administered by the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources.

Read more about Cohen and the other honorees.

Published October 23, 2013.