Professor Dr. Morton Mower Honored as Prince Mahidol Award Laureate
As the co-inventor of the Automatic Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (AICD), Professer Dr. Morton Mower has saved millions of lives. The use of this device markedly decrease the death rate of patients with cardiac arrhythmia, compared to using only medical therapy. Up to 200,000 patients are implanted with this device each year, and a total of 2-3 million people around the world are currently using it. It was a breakthrough technology to help patients with abnormal heart rhythms known as ventricular fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia. Professor Mower was honored as the Prince Mahidol Award Laureate 2015 in the field of medicine.
Professor Mower began his work on the AICD with Dr. Michel Mirowski, a physician from Israel, in 1969 while working on cardiovascular drug research at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore. The AICD is a device that is implanted inside the human body. It is able to perform cardioversion, defibrillation and pacing of the heart without the need of external defibrillator. It constantly monitors the rate and rhythm of the heart and can deliver electrical current when the heart rate is abnormal. After the concept of AICD began in 1969, the first implantation in patient was performed in 1980. The device was approved by the USFDA in 1984. It is not only saving lives, but also helps improve the living quality of survivors.
The Prince Mahidol Award obtains its name from His Royal Highness Prince Mahidol of Songkla, “Father of Modern Medicine and Public Health of Thailand”. His Royal Highness received from Harvard University the Certificate of Public Health in 1921 and the degree of Doctor of medicine (Cum Laude) in 1928. After returning to Thailand, Prince Mahidol taught preventive and social medicine to final year medical students at Siriraj Medical School and then worked as a resident doctor at McCormick Hospital in Chiang Mai. As ever, Prince Mahidol did much more than was required in attending his patients, taking care of needy patients at all hours of the day and night, and even, according to records, donating his own blood for them. His teaching of the spirit of brotherhood towards all human beings without discrimination of any kind is well-known.
Two Prince Mahidol Awards are conferred annually upon individuals or institutions which have demonstrated exemplary contributions to the advancement of medical and public health services for humanity throughout the world. The Prince Mahidol Award Foundation was established in commemoration of the Centenary of the Birth of His Royal Highness Prince Mahidol of Songkla on 1 January 1992. It is under the Royal Patronage, with Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn as president. Recipients of the Award are selected by the International Award Committee which comprises a number of world-renowned experts in the fields of medicine and public health.
On May 9, 2016, Ambassador Pisan and Madame Wanchana Manawapat hosted a dinner in honor of Professor Mower, who was joined by his wife, Dr. Tobia Kurland. Professor Mower and Dr. Kurland recalled their fond memories when he received the Award from Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn at Chakri Maha Prasat Throne Hall in Bangkok in January 2016. Dinner guests learnt how they were royally treated during their 10-day visit to Thailand during which the Professor also gave 7 lectures. Professor Mower and Dr. Kurland were also joined by their friends, Dr. Adam Strickberger, an Electrophysiologist and his wife, Mrs. Deborah Miller, Mr. Tyler Houlton, Chief of Staff of Congressman Glenn Grothman, Ms. Diane Scar, Jewish National Find’s National Campaign Director, Mr. Sidney Silver, patent attorney and founding partner of Silver, Freeman Taff & Tiernan LLP, and Mr. Arthur Neustadt, patent attorney and founding member and partner, Oblon McClelland Maier & Neustadt LLP.
The Thai Embassy was honored to have three high-level representatives from the U.S. administration joining the dinner. Ambassador Jimmy Kolker, Assistant Secretary for Global Affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services, spoke about how Thailand has been an important partner of the U.S. under the Global Health Security Agenda. Mr. W. Patrick Murphy, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Southeast Asia, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the Department of State, informed the party of the Thai – U.S. close and long-standing health partnership such as on vaccine development and the work of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences (AFRIMS) in Bangkok. Dr. R. David Edelman, Special Assistant to the President for Economic and Technology Policy, commented how his work on intellectual property can help protect the work of an American genius like Professor Mower and how the Professor’s work contributes to the U.S. economy. The Embassy was also pleased to have Coach Kathy Kemper, Founder and CEO of the Institute for Education and a frequent op-ed writer and columnist, and Ms. Padmananda Rama, Broadcast Producer from the Associated Press at the dinner.
The guests were treated to a Thai dinner, comprising Laab Gai (Fried Minced Chicken), Tom Yum Lobster, Pad Thai with Prawn, Fried Black Cod with Red Curry Crab Meat Sauce, Thai Rice Berry, and Assorted Traditional Thai Sweets and Mixed Fruits Salad, designed by Madame Wanchana Manawapat.
All in all, the dinner once again portrays the good will and close ties between Thailand and the U.S. in the field of medicine and global health. The Thai Embassy is honored to learn from the wisdom and selflessness of Professor Mower and the lady behind his success, Dr. Kurland. The couple resonate very well His Royal Highness Prince Mahidol of Songkla’s pronouncement given to his medical students that “True success is not in the learning, but in its application to the benefit of mankind.”