Today (21 November 2008) at 11.00 hrs., Clinical Professor Teerawat Kulthanan, Dean of Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University, in the capacity of Vice President of the Prince Mahidol Award Foundation, Mr. Voradet Viravakin, acting on behalf of the Director-General of the Department of Information in the capacity of the Chairman of the Sub-Committee on Public Relations of the Prince Mahidol Award Foundation, and Professor Vicharn Panich, Chairman of the International Award Committee of the Prince Mahidol Award Foundation, held a press conference to announce the 17th Prince Mahidol Award for 2008 at the Prince Mahidol Musuem, 2nd Floor, Syamindra Building, Siriraj Hospital.
The Prince Mahidol Award 2008 in the field of medicine is conferred upon Professor Sergio Henrique Ferreira, Department of Pharmacology, University of S?o Paulo, Brazil and the Prince Mahidol Award 2008 in the field of public health is jointly awarded to Professor Michiaki Takahashi, Osaka University, Osaka, Japan and Professor Yu Yongxin, Director Emeritus, National Institute for the Control of Pharmaceutical and Biological Products, People’s Republic of China.
In 2008, there are a total of 49 nominations from 19 countries. The Scientific Advisory Committee carefully screened all candidates from the year 2008, 2007, and 2006 and then submitted a short list of the candidates to the International Award Committee who scrutinized the and made a recommendation to the Board of Trustees. H.R.H. Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn presided over the meeting of the Board of Trustees on 3 November 2008 in which the final decision on the Prince Mahidol Award 2008 was made. In the past 16 years, 48 individuals, groups of individuals, and institutions have received the Prince Mahidol Award. Among them, two subsequently received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, namely Professor Dr. Barry James Marshall and Professor Dr. Harald zur Hausen.
The Prince Mahidol Award Foundation under the Royal Patronage was established in commemoration of the centenary of the birth of His Royal Highness Prince Mahidol of Songkla, on 1 January 1992. The Foundation is under 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), 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 $50,000.
Their Majesties the King and Queen of Thailand have graciously consented to preside over the Presentation Ceremony of the Prince Mahidol Award 2008 at the Chakri Throne hall on Wednesday, 28 January 2009 at 17.30 hours. Prior to the Ceremony, Siriraj Hospital, as a founder of the Prince Mahidol Award Foundation, will invite the 2008 Prince Mahidol Awardees to give lectures based on their achievement.
In the field of Medicine:
Professor Sergio Henrique Ferreira, Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine of Ribeir?o Preto, University of S?o Paulo, Ribeir?o Preto, S?o Paulo, Brazil
Professor Ferreira discovered the Bradykinin Potentiating Factor (BPF) which is a peptide found in the venom of a Brazilian snake. His discovery paved the way for the development of a new class of antihypertensive drugs, the angiotensin converting enzymes inhibitors (ACEI), the first of which is the drug called captopril. The drug was widely recognized for its antihypertensive efficacy, especially in diabetic patients with inflammatory and kidney diseases. It greatly helped reduce the number of patients who died from congestive heart failure.
Professor Ferreira also discovered the mechanism in which non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) work and studied a basic mechanism involving the inflammatory hyperalgesia. His study led to the development of a selected class of analgesics, particularly the COX 2 inhibitor, considered to be a remarkable progress for all NSAIDs.
Professor Ferreira’s contributions to science have been recognized worldwide. The ACEI and Cox-2 inhibitors are currently among the most widely used to relieve pain and inflammatory conditions, saving lives of millions of patients around the world.
In the field of Public Health:
Professor Michiaki Takahashi, Director, The Research Foundation for Microbial Diseases, Osaka University, Osaka, Japan
Professor Takahashi developed a vaccine isolated from the vesicles of a typical case of chicken pox in a 3-year-old Japanese boy. Named Oka after the boy, the vaccine was developed to prevent chicken pox in a process which is strictly adhered to the standard of the World Health Organisation. The vaccine was widely accepted and used extensively in Japan, Korea, USA, France, as well as Thailand. People who receive this vaccine will develop chicken pox with less fever and no scar, and they will recover in a quickly manner. As they grow older, children who have received the vaccination will experience less severe cases of herpes zoster than those who did not receive vaccination. In adults aged greater than 60, the vaccine is shown to prevent the development of herpes zoster, as well as to reduce its side conditions and to limit the spread of the disease.
Chicken pox or varicella is caused by varicella zoster virus (VZV) placed within the same group as herpes viruses. The symptoms of the disease comprise fever, headache, being bored of food, and skin rashes. The disease is found in all regions of the world, often in children aged younger than 6. In general, the disease has no serious consequence but it is easily transmitted. Rare side conditions of the disease include the inflammation of the brain and lung. In general, the conditions are more serious and take long time to recove in adults.
Professor Takahashi’s discovery of the varicella vaccine led to the worldwide use of the vaccine to prevent chicken pox. The vaccine helps relieve blood and mental pain of the patients as well as reduce the death rate of patients with chicken pox, particularly millions of children from all over the world.
Professor. Yu Yongxin, Director Emeritus, First Department of Viral Vaccine, National Institute for the Control of Pharmaceutical and Biological Products, People’s Republic of China.
Professor. Yu Yongxin had spent nearly three decades to derive an SA14-14-2 Japanese encephalitis (JE) vaccine from kidney cells of hamsters. Tested for immunogenicity and efficacy in experimental animals and then human subjects, the vaccine is widely regarded as the most efficacious and safest in preventing encephalitis in children. Since 1988, the vaccine has been distributed to over 200 million children in China and to millions more in India, Korea, Sri Lanka, Nepal, as well as Thailand. It was proven to greatly help reduce the spread of encephalitis in Asia.
JE encephalitis is the most important disease in the group of encephalitis diseases caused by viruses which have insects as carriers. The disease cannot be cured but can be prevented by vaccine. The disease has been found in Asia, particularly in countries namely India, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, and China. It used to be an epidemic in Japan, Korea, and Taiwan but is currently under control. Normally, patients with JE encephalitis show no symptom. What is found are brain-related symptoms including the inflammation of the brain and membranes enveloping the brain which can result in the patients’ death or disability. Since the vaccine was placed in the list of primary vaccines by Ministry of Public Health following its Immunity Promotion Plan, JE encephalitis has hardly been found in Thailand.
Professor. Yu’s research and development of JE encephalitis vaccine have contributed to the prevention of the diseases with no cure. His efforts helped ensure that millions of patients in Asia would avoid death and disability caused by the disease.
Clinical Professor Supat Vanichakarn
21 November 2008