Stephen Thomas, a virologist and vaccinologist who currently serves as an Upstate Medical University professor of medicine, microbiology & immunology and is director of its Institute for Global Health and Translational Science, has been recognized with Liberty Medal—the highest civilian honor awarded by the New York State Senate—for his work related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Syracuse-area state Sen. John Mannion announced the honor from senate floor Jan. 13. “[Thomas] is at the forefront of critical advancements related to both vaccine development and large-scale testing implementation,” Mannion said. “Make no mistake, the work of Dr. Thomas and his team has saved untold millions of lives around the world through safe and effective vaccination. There are not enough words to express our gratitude to him.”
In November 2020, Thomas was tapped as lead principal investigator for the world-wide Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine trial. Thanks to Thomas and Upstate’s Global Health team, Central New Yorkers had an opportunity to participate in making history as the area became one of the study’s global phase 3 vaccine trial locations. Thomas also led the team coordinating the university’s initial response to the pandemic in March 2020.
Thomas also has become one of the nation’s leading and most authoritative voices regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, offering his perspective of the pandemic in both local and national media, updating the public on vaccines, masking, treatments and clinical trials since the pandemic was declared a global outbreak in March 2020.