The HHV-6 Foundation has established the “Caroline Breese Hall Young Investigator Award” in memory and honor of Dr. Caroline Breese Hall, who served as a Pediatric Infectious Diseases physician at the University of Rochester School of Medicine since 1971. The award will be given every other year to a qualified young investigator engaged in research on HHV-6. The award will include a grant and an invitation to make a featured conference presentation.
In April, Dr. Hall will receive the HHV-6 Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award posthumously. We are deeply saddened that she will not be there to receive it. Caroline was not only one of the most impressive investigators in her field, she was also a warm and thoughtful individual who was an inspiration to us all. She has been a University of Rochester School of Medicine faculty member since 1971, where she served as Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine. Her work on viral diseases in children resulted in more than 500 published articles. She has been on the HHV-6 Foundation Scientific Advisory Board since 2005, and has authored or co-authored over two dozen important papers on HHV-6.
In the early 1990’s, Dr. Hall was one of the first physicians in the USA to begin characterizing the significance and epidemiology of primary HHV-6 infection. Her prospective study of HHV-6 infection in children, published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 1994, established HHV-6 infection as a major cause of visits to the emergency room, febrile seizures, and hospitalizations among the nearly 2500 infants and young children surveyed in the landmark study. Throughout her career, Dr. Hall was integral in writing diagnostic and management guidelines for HHV-6 infection which are still used by pediatricians and infectious diseases specialists today.
Still a very active researcher, her most recent work was focused on congenital infection with HHV-6. In 2008, she published an article in Pediatrics determining that chromosomal integration of HHV-6 (ciHHV-6) accounts for the majority of cases of congenital HHV-6 infection, and also reported the prevalence of this condition at approximately 1% of all children in her cohort. In a follow-up to this paper, she published another article in 2010 that suggested mothers with chromosomally integrated HHV-6 infection can pass on reactivated ciHHV-6 virus transplacentally to the fetus, marking the first in vivo support for the in vitro evidence that integrated HHV-6 can produce infectious virus. Another important paper by Dr. Hall’s group will be published on this subject this spring in the Journal of Infectious Diseases. The recipient of three separate extramural grants from NIH to study HHV-6, Dr. Hall’s several ground-breaking discoveries and commitment to HHV-6 research have shaped the field for two decades, and will continue to govern how researchers and physicians in the field understand the virus moving forward. Members of the HHV-6 Foundation Scientific Advisory Board were very saddened at the loss of such an excellent researcher and colleague. “Dr. Hall was an extraordinarily generous mentor and was impeccably honest in her research,” reflected Dr. Leon Epstein, Professor of Pediatric Neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and fellow HHV-6 Foundation Scientific Advisory Board member.
In a remembrance from the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society it was noted that Dr. Hall was a founding member of the Society, served as its 5th President, and was the Society’s Historian. Her research on respiratory viruses changed the way the world perceived these common pediatric infections, and her seminal studies of RSV and later HHV-6 were truly groundbreaking. She set the bar for clinical and translational research of pediatric infectious diseases, and will evermore serve as an inspiration to pediatricians across the globe. Caren also had a tremendous dedication to service. She served as Chairman of the AAP Committee on Infectious Diseases (Red Book Committee), and the 2006 edition of the Red Book was dedicated to her. Additionally, she was a member of the CDC Advisory Committee of Immunization Practices, of the Board of Scientific Counselors for the National Center of Infectious Diseases, and of numerous committees for the National Academies of Science, the Institute of Medicine, and the American Board of Pediatrics. She was elected to the Institute of Medicine and the Royal College of Physicians. Her numerous honors included the Distinguished Physician and Distinguished Service Awards from the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, the Infectious Disease Society of America’s John Franklin Enders Lectureship, the Pan American Society of Virology’s Award and the Robert M. Chanock Lifetime Achievement Award. Transcending this list of accomplishments, though, is the personal impact that Caren had on so many of her patients, colleagues, and friends.
She is survived by her husband William Hall, three children and six grandchildren.