A Japanese scientist and an American doctor are this year’s winners of the Prince Mahidol awards.
Dr Udom Kachintorn, vice president of the Prince Mahidol Award Foundation and dean of Mahidol University’s Medical School at Siriraj Hospital, yesterday lauded Professor Akira Endo and Professor Donald Henderson.
Endo, the president of Biopharm Research Laboratories at the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, has been honoured for a medical discovery related to coronary heart disease prevention.
“Endo’s discovery has turned over a new page in medical treatment.
“At first, we thought there was no cure for this disease, which was causing huge number of deaths globally,” Udom told a press conference at Siriraj Hospital.
The pioneering discovery by Endo of the ML-236B statin could reduce cholesterol in the blood and block the enzyme, marking a milestone in the prevention of related major vascular diseases.
Eradication of smallpox
Henderson is the scholar from the Centre for Health Security at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre who led the World Health Organisation’s Global Smallpox Eradication Campaign.
From 1966 to 1977, Henderson led the WHO Smallpox Eradication Unit. The smallpox eradication campaign came to a successful conclusion in 1977, which gave hope after the disease was a major problem throughout the world in the 20th century.
The Prince Mahidol Awards have been given annually since 1992 to institutions or individuals demonstrating 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 US$100,000. Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn will present the Prince Mahidol Awards at a ceremony on January 28.
There were 59 nominations from 25 countries. The scientific advisory committee screened candidates from 2014, 2013 and 2012.
The shortlist was scrutinised by the international award committee and its recommendations forwarded to the foundation’s board of trustees.
In the past 23 years, 68 individuals, groups of individuals and institutions have received the award. Two of them were winners of the Nobel Prize for medicine – Dr Barry Marshall and Dr Haraldzur Hausen.
Two Thais were named recipients in 1996 – Professors Prasong Tuchinda and Suchitra Nimmannitya – and two in 2009 – Dr Wiwat Rojanapitha-yakorn and Mechai Viravaidya.