High Country Character: Vail’s Sanford Kuvin | VailDaily.com

High Country Character: Vail’s Sanford Kuvin

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado
Kristin Anderson/Vail DailyDr. Sanford Kuvin plays the flute Monday in his Vail, Colorado home.

VAIL, Colorado ” It was laboratory work and research on one of deadliest diseases that sent Vail, Colorado resident Sanford Kuvin traveling the world.

The 79-year-old Kuvin, an infectious disease researcher, discovered a quick tube test to detect malaria in the 1960s ” an accomplishment that sent him to other countries to teach them how to use the test.

His travels landed him first in Egypt, then later in Jerusalem, where he heads the Kuvin Center for the Study of Infectious and Tropical Diseases at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His research work, as well as his advocacy for mandatory HIV testing, has put him in the spotlight on various television shows and in newspapers, including Larry King Live, Crossfire, Oprah, the New York Times and the Washington Post.

And while the eccentric and animated doctor has traveled the globe and even skied on many of the world’s major mountains, his favorite remains Vail, where the powder is good and the experience unparalleled, he said.

VD: Tell us more about discovering the malaria test and where that has brought you.

SK: There had never been an antibody test for malaria or any other parasite disease. Previously, the way it was diagnosed was looking down a microscope at blood smears. This made it much more possible to diagnose it much more quickly.

I needed human subjects, something that wouldn’t happen today. I began a prisoner volunteer program in the Atlanta penitentiary. I infected with monkey malaria, which is a very mild, flu-like disease in humans. In return, they got put into the hospital, time off for good behavior, and free medical care from the government for life. Colonel Abel, (a convicted Russian spy), was one of my patients.

VD: What is special about your current research work?

SK: We’ve had an ongoing program with a Palestinian medical school on a disease called Leischmaniasis, a parasitic disease carried by the Sand Fly. We’ve been able to work so successfully without any impediment from politics because health means wealth to the countries dealing with it. Mosquitos know no borders. Palestinian and Israeli doctors work together. I’m a believer that this is a prescription for peace if the politicians will only allow it.

VD: You have a home and work based in Jerusalem. What draws you to the city?

SK: It is the most enchanting and, in my opinion, most beautiful city in the world. Everyone who goes, whether a Jew, Buddhist, Christian or atheist, goes away believing it is their city, whether for historical, religious or ephemeral reasons.

For me, it’s been good science, good friends, good food and good music.

VD: So why Vail?

SK: I’ve skied all over the world, literally, and I came to the conclusion that Vail is the best spot on the earth for skiing. The quality of the snow is the best in the world. It’s dry, and it’s true powder. The town has just developed a nicety to it that I’ve not experienced in my other travels. From the local merchants to the restaurants to the ski lift operators to ski patrol, they all do an outstanding job.

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or mwong@vaildaily.com.

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