John Bastianich and Carl Deddens

Douglas T. Dieterich and
Richard J. Colonno

Frederick Thompson and
Janice Huff

Frederick Thompson (right) with
Carol and Edmund Blake

FDA And Liver Group Honor
Hepatitis B Virus Conqueror

Text and Photos by Tim Boxer

HE last week of March proved most satisfying to Richard Colonno. It was most propitious that he was honored at the fifth annual gala of the American Liver Foundation Greater New York Chapter at the Pierre Hotel.

In the same week the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of entecavir in the fight against liver disease that was discovered at the Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceutical Research Institute in Wallingford, Conn.

As vice president of infectious diseases drug discovery at the institute, Colonno led a team of scientists that worked for nine years to find a potent and selective inhibitor hepatitis B virus in the treatment of chronically infected patients.

The new drug is being branded Baraclude.

Colonno’s discovery will undoubtedly make a difference. More than one million Americans suffer from chronic hepatitis B infection. More than 5,000 die from hepatitis B and related liver complications each year.

“It’s been the most important achievement of my life,” Colonna said at the gala. “This is a very fulfilling experience. My feet are not on the ground yet. When I started on this drug nine years ago my hair was not this gray.”

Dr. Douglas T. Dieterich, vice chair and chief medical officer of the Department of Medicine at the Mount Sinai Medical Center, presented the Spirit of New York Award to Colonno.

Frederick Thompson, president and CEO of American Liver Foundation, introduced us to Carol Blake and her husband Edmund, a liver transplant survivor. “It’s been 11 years,” he said, “and I’m in good shape.”

Janice Huff, meteorologist for WNBC-TV weekday and NBC’s Saturday edition of Today, served as host of the gala. Restaurateur and winemaker Joseph Bastianich led a team of chefs who presented the Flavors of New York Culinary Gala, a five-course tasting menu from England, France, New York, Spain, Rome, Florence and Palermo.

Carl J. Deddens, gala chair, announced that the evening raised $400,000. That pleased chapter president Gina M. Pollichino and vice president Stephen C. Katter.

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