The prestigious Prince Mahidol Award 2018 in public health recognises icddr,b ED and the former Chair of icddr,b’s Scientific Advisory Group for their role in the development and advancement of the only safe, effective, & affordable OCV available

Dhaka, 21 November, 2018 -Today, the Prince Mahidol Award Foundation of which the Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn is the President has announced a US epidemiologist Prof John D Clemens and a Swedish immunologist Prof Jan Holmgren as the winners in public health category. They have worked for over 30 years to develop, evaluate, and introduce the world’s only safe, effective, and affordable internationally licensed oral cholera vaccines (OCVs). These vaccines, which have revolutionised cholera control efforts in Africa, the Middle East, Haiti, and Asia, have saved and continue to save countless lives among the world’s disadvantaged.

Established in January 1992, The Prince Mahidol Award is the Kingdom of Thailand’s tribute to personalities and institutions who are reputed for the advancement in medicine and public health, in honour of His Royal Highness Prince Mahidol of Songkhla, Father of Thailand’s modern medicine and grandfather of His Majesty King Rama X.

Upon receiving the award Prof John D Clemens, Executive Director of icddr,b said, “I am honoured and humbled to have been selected for the Prince Mahidol Award. It is especially meaningful to have received the award for work done with my long-term friend and colleague, Jan Holmgren, and while I am serving as Executive Director of the icddr,b, where the oral cholera vaccine story began.”

While, Prof Jan Holmgren said, “It is indeed a great honour to receive this prestigious award and be joining the list of outstanding scientists who have previously been given this award for their often tremendous achievements in public health. It is a special privilege to share this award with my close friend Professor John Clemens, whom I have collaborated with (and learnt vaccine epidemiology from) for 35 years. It is also a pleasure to acknowledge with profound gratitude the long-standing collaboration I have had also with many other scientists both in Sweden and abroad, and to especially recognize the support from many collaborators at icddr,b in Bangladesh, in Vietnam and in India, which has been pivotal for our now so honourably awarded work on oral cholera vaccines.”  

Both scientists have long been associated with icddr,b and their work in Bangladesh, beginning in the 1980’s, was critical to the development, licensure, and global endorsement of oral cholera vaccines. 

Photo: Sabin Vaccine Institute   I   Prof Jan R. Holmgren (left), Prof John D. Clemens (right)

Commenting on their wonderful achievement, icddr,b’s Chairman of the Board of Trustees Prof Maxine Whittaker congratulated them and said, “icddr,b is honoured that Professor John Clemens and Professor Jan Holmgren have been recognized for the enormous contribution they have made in the development and deployment of the oral cholera vaccine as winners of this year’s Prince Mahidol Award. This is not only an honour for icddr,b but also for the people of Bangladesh in recognizing the crucial role they have played in OCV development, a vaccine which has gone on to  save many lives, most recently among the entire population of Forcibly Displaced Myanmar Nationals in Cox Bazar, Bangladesh.”

The Foundation annually confers two Prince Mahidol Awards upon individual(s) or institution(s), which 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 January 2019, the H.R.H. Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn will preside over the official Presentation Ceremony of the Prince Mahidol Award 2018, where laureates will officially be handed over their award and will present their lectures on respected field of work.