Thailand honors three American doctors with Prince Mahidol Award

At the award presentation ceremony at the Grand Palace in Bangkok, three doctors from the U.S. were among five honored with Thailand’s Prince Mahidol Award, the world’s second most prestigious medical awards after the Nobel Prize.

Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn conferred the prizes on the recipients at an audience that included members of Thailand’s government, top-echelon figures in the medical community, and the diplomatic corps.

The two Americans to receive awards were (1) Professor Dr. Katalin Karikó, Senior Vice President, BioNTech RNA Pharmaceuticals, Germany and Adjunct Associate Professor at University of Pennsylvania (Medicine, 2021), (2) Professor Drew Weissman, Director of Vaccine Research for Infectious Diseases at University of Pennsylvania (Medicine, 2021), and (3) Dr. Valentin Fuster, Director of Mount Sinai Heart and Physician-in-Chief at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital (Medicine, 2020).

The Mahidol Awards are bestowed on those who make exceptional contributions in the fields of medicine and public health. Created in 1992, they further the legacy of Prince Mahidol of Songkhla, who is regarded as the “Father of Thai Medicine.” The Prince earned degrees in medicine and public health from Harvard University and did much to bring the Kingdom’s public health system into the modern age.

This year’s ceremony conferred awards for winners in both 2020 and 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic prevented last year’s ceremony from taking place because of travel restrictions. Prof. Karikó and Prof. Weissman’s award was for their works in developing mRNA vaccines, the type of vaccine most effective against COVID-19.

Dr. Fuster’s award was the research that found how aspirin can prevent abnormal blood clotting that can be fatal to individuals with narrowed heart arteries.

Prof. Weissman shared his award with Associate Prof Katalin Kariko, a Hungarian biochemist and researcher from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and Prof. Pieter Cullis from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.

Photo courtesy of