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August 17, 2009 at 3:30 PM

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PATH to receive $1.5 million Hilton Humanitarian Prize

Posted by Kristi Heim

Seattle-based non-profit PATH has been chosen to receive the 2009 Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, the largest humanitarian award in the world.

Hilton Foundation leaders are in town to talk about the award with PATH during a morning press conference tomorrow that includes speakers from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Seattle Rotary.

The $1.5 million prize "acknowledges one outstanding nonprofit, charitable, or non-governmental organization that has made significant contributions toward alleviating human suffering anywhere in the world," according to the Hilton Foundation's Web site.

It's also one of the largest monetary prizes -- about equal to the Nobel Prize. Previous winners have included BRAC, a Bangladeshi group that focuses on helping poor rural women using microfinance, Women for Women International, which helps survivors of war, and Partners in Health, which pioneered a comprehensive, community-based approach to improving health.


A kiosk where women in a Nairobi slum sell water purified using a process developed by PATH.

PATH has been developing innovative health solutions for the past three decades, from vial monitors that indicate when vaccine is spoiled, to water purification programs, to an initiative to produce the world's first malaria vaccine. Its work has helped make Seattle a global health powerhouse.

Most recently, PATH scientists and collaborators developed methods that protect hepatitis B vaccine from heat and freeze damage, particularly important in parts of the world without proper refrigeration.

The Hilton Foundation, established by the founder of the Hilton Hotels chain, has awarded more than $800 million in grants and reported assets of $3.4 billion. More than half of the grants go to supporting international projects.

The foundation's international prize jury includes Catherine Bertini, senior fellow in agricultural development at the Gates Foundation, who is former director of the United Nations World Food Programme.

Steven M. Hilton, president and chief executive of the Hilton Foundation and the grandson of Conrad N. Hilton, will be speaking at PATH.

I'll report on more details from the press conference tomorrow.

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