University of Vermont

216th Commencement Ceremonies - May 20 and 21, 2017

Honorary Degree Recipient

David R. Nalin M.D.
Doctor of Science

David R Nalin MDDavid R. Nalin, MD, pioneered oral rehydration therapy, a life-saving remedy for treating patients with cholera and other severe diarrhea illnesses. It is estimated that oral rehydration therapy has saved over 70 million lives worldwide since its inception. In 1978, the prestigious British medical journal The Lancet described oral rehydration therapy as “potentially the most important medical advance of this century.”

Dr. Nalin earned his bachelor of arts degree in zoology from Cornell University and his medical doctorate from Albany Medical College, Albany, New York. He began his medical career as an intern and resident at Montefiore Hospital, Bronx, New York. After joining the National Institute for Allergic and Infectious Diseases, in 1968 Dr. Nalin and his colleague Dr. Richard Cash developed an oral rehydration therapy protocol at the Cholera Research Hosptial in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) that reduced I.V. requirements by 80 percent. In 1971 during the Bangladesh independence war the oral solution reduced mortality from cholera from 30 to 3.6 percent in Bangladesh refugee camps.

Dr. Nalin served as a consultant for the World Health Organization from 1969 to 1990, helping to establish highly successful oral rehydration therapy programs for diarrhea diseases in Costa Rica, Jamaica, Jordan, and Pakistan. After serving as Assistant and then Associate Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland, Dr. Nalin arrived in Lahore, Pakistan, in 1979 to take charge of the University of Maryland Pakistan Medical Research Center; he was expelled by Pakistani authorities in 1982 based on unfounded Soviet allegations that the research there was directed by the CIA. In 1983, Dr. Nalin became Director of Clinical Research at Merck Research Laboratories; from 1998 until his retirement in 2002, he was the Director of Vaccine Scientific Affairs at Merck’s Vaccine Division.

Since retiring from Merck, Dr. Nalin has continued working as a consultant in vaccinology; he is currently Professor Emeritus at the Center for Immunology and Microbial Diseases, Albany Medical College, and president of the Brighton Foundation USA, devoted to enhancing the science of vaccine safety research. In the past several years he has received a number of patents relating to new methods of immunization.

Dr. Nalin is an avid collector of Asian art, a commitment that began in his first position in South Asia, when he saw ancient sculptures being scrapped for their metal and destroyed in ethnic conflicts. He became committed then to preserving the visual arts of the region. Dr. Nalin’s substantial art collection includes works from India, Bangladesh, Tibet, Nepal, and China. In 2000, he was named by Art and Antiques magazine as one of the top five collectors in this field. He and his brother, Dr. Richard Nalin (UVM ’63), have donated over two thousand pieces to U.S. museums, including UVM’s Fleming Museum of Art; Dr. Nalin serves on the Fleming Museum Board of Advisors.  

Through his work as a medical ambassador and pioneer, and in his vision of preserving cultural legacies, Dr. Nalin has distinguished himself throughout his career by his dedication to humankind and his lived belief in making the world a better place for all.

Last modified March 22 2017 02:02 PM