Dr. Phillips's research and leadership are responsible for the reduction in cholera from a death rate of over 60 percent in formerly untreated cases to a death rate of less than 1 percent in cases treated by his method.
In 1919, the disease—especially rampant throughout the Philippines, the Asian world and China—claimed 1,055,449 lives, with an economic loss of untold millions of dollars to the countries involved. In 1943, before Dr. Phillips's work, almost half a million people died of cholera in India and Pakistan alone.
As a result of his field studies, conducted during the past 10 years in the Far East, Dr. Phillips observed that the chief killing element in cholera is the dehydration of the victim.
He devised a method of replacing the body's fluids, salts, and other chemical compounds, called electrolytes—which are necessary to various physiological processes essential to life, and which are lost by the victim in the course of the disease—so as to bring the body chemistry back into balance.
This life-saving therapy of rapidly replacing, intravenously, these lost body fluids and compounds is so simple that it can be successfully administered in the field, even under the most elementary conditions, and even by relatively unskilled personnel.
Dr. Phillips has devoted his life to the training of others, both on an individual and nationwide scale. The institutions he has directed have become both local and world centers for the training of doctors, scientists, and health officials from many nations.
To Dr. Robert Allan Phillips, distinguished scientist and dedicated physician, this 1967 Albert Lasker Clinical Research Award is given.