By The Nation, Jarupong Krisanaraj
Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, as the Representative of His Majesty the King, will confer the Prince Mahidol Awards for 2019 in the Field of Medicine and Public Health at the Chakri Throne Hall of the Grand Palace on Thursday (January 30) at 5.30pm.
A total of 66 nominations from 35 countries worldwide were received with two being selected for the awards.
In the Field of Medicine, the award goes to Professor Dr Ralf FW Bartenschlager, head of the Department for Infectious Diseases, molecular virology, University of Heidelberg and head of the Division of Virus-Associated Carcinogenesis, German Cancer Research Centre, Germany.
Bartenschlager’s most prominent work is on the lifecycle of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) that provides the basis for the development of effective and safe specific antivirals. At present, over 71 million people worldwide suffer from chronic HCV infection and approximately 400,000 people die each year. HCV infection also leads to liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma.
In the Field of Public Health, the award goes to Professor David Mabey, Professor of Communicable Diseases, Clinical Research Department, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, United Kingdom.
Mabey has studied trachoma, the most common eye infection leading to blindness worldwide for more than 30 years. Trachoma is caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. It is responsible for blindness or visual impairment of about 2 million people globally annually. Infection spreads through personal contact and by flies that have been in contact with discharge from the eyes or nose of an infected person, particularly in developing countries with inadequate hygiene, crowded households, and inadequate access to water and sanitation.
They believe that the outbreak of Wuhan coronavirus will not last for a long time, saying that this disease may be related to Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome that spread from wild animals to humans and can transmit between humans.
“As a precaution, people should wear mask, wash hands regularly, and avoid crowded places,” Bartenschlager said.
The Prince Mahidol Award Foundation under the Royal Patronage was established on January 1, 1992 to commemorate the birth centenary of Prince Mahidol of Songkla.
The Foundation is under the Royal Patronage, with HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn as president. The Foundation annually confers two Prince Mahidol Awards upon individual(s) or institution(s), who have demonstrated outstanding and exemplary contributions to the advancement of the world’s medical and public health services.
Each award consists of a medal, a certificate and a sum of US$100,000.
In the past 27 years, the Prince Mahidol Award has been conferred on 83 individuals, groups of individuals, and institutions. Among them, four recipients were Thai nationals -- Professor Dr Prasong Tuchinda, Dr Suchitra Nimmannitya who received the Prince Mahidol Award in the field of Medicine in 1996, and Dr Wiwat Rojanapithayakorn, and Mechai Viravaidya, who received the Prince Mahidol Award in the field of Public Health in 2009.
One recipient of the Prince Mahidol Award, Dr Margaret Chan from Hong Kong, became the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), and five subsequently received the Nobel Prize. They were: Professor Barry J Marshall from Australia for Medicine in 2005; Professor Harald zur Hausen from Germany for Medicine in 2008; Professor Dr Satoshi Omura for Medicine in 2015; Professor Tu You You for Medicine in 2015, and Gregory Paul Winter for Chemistry in 2018.