American doctor among winners of Thailand’s Prince Mahidol Award 2021
U.S. Professor Drew Weissman was named along with two colleagues from Hungary and Canada as winners of this year’s Prince Mahidol Awards.
The Prince Mahidol Award in the field of public health and medicine are one of the most prestigious awards in the field of medical sciences. Several Prince Mahidol Award winners later went on to win Nobel Prizes or head global organizations such as the World Health Organization. (WHO).
Vicharn Panich, chairman of the International Award Committee of the Prince Mahidol Award Foundation, said that the work of Dr. Weissman and Associate Professor Katalin Kariko of Hungary, University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Medicine faculty members, had led to the rapid availability of COVID-19 mRNA vaccines.
“They have been working side by side to develop the mRNA technology in medicine. In 2006, they discovered that modifying nucleosides in mRNA strands could reduce cellular reactions toward foreign RNA. This was an important step in mRNA technology,” Vicharn said.
The third award winner, Professor Pieter Cullis of Canada, is a pioneer in researching lipid nanoparticles, which have been used in a variety of ways, such as delivering drugs to cancer cells without causing much damage to surrounding tissue.
“Professor Cullis’ achievement not only made COVID-19 mRNA vaccines possible but also created a way to safely deliver nucleic acid strands into cells,” Vicharn said.
The Prince Mahidol Award was established in 1992 in commemoration of the centenary of the birth of His Royal Highness Prince Mahidol of Songkla who is regarded as the “father of Thai medicine and public health.” The Foundation is under the Royal Patronage, with Her Royal Highness 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 prize to the sum of US $100,000.