Today (27 November 2007) at 10.30 hrs., Clinical Professor Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn, Dean of Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University, Mr. Tharit Charungvat, Director-General of the Department of Information in the capacity of the Chairman of the Sub-Committee on Public Relations of Prince Mahidol Award Foundation and Clinical Professor Vicharn Panich, Chairman of the International Award Committee of the Prince Mahidol Award Foundation held a press conference to announce the 16th Prince Mahidol Award for 2007 at the Prince Mahidol Musuem, 2nd Floor, Syamindra Building, Siriraj Hospital. The Prince Mahidol Award 2007 in the field of medicine is conferred upon Professor Axel Ullrich, Director of Molecular Biology at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Germany, and the Prince Mahidol Award 2007 in the field of public health upon Professor Basil Stuart Hetzel, Chairman Emeritus of the International Council for Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders (ICCIDD), Australia, and Dr. Sanduk Ruit, Medical Director of Tilganga Eye Centre, Kathmandu, Nepal.
In 2007, there are a total of 69 nominations from 35 countries. The Scientific Advisory Committee carefully screened the candidates from the year 2007, 2006, and 2005 and then submitted the short list 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 20 November 2007 in which the final decision on the Prince Mahidol Award 2007 was made. Since the beginning, 48 individuals or groups of individuals have received the Prince Mahidol Award.
The Prince Mahidol Award Foundation under the Royal Patronage was established on January 1st, 1992 in commemoration of the centenary of the birth of His Royal Highness Prince Mahidol. The Foundation is under Royal Patronage, with Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn as president. The Prince Mahidol Award are conferred annually upon individual(s) or institution(s), which have demonstrated outstanding and exemplary contributions to the advancement of medicine, public health and social services throughout the world. 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 2007 on Wednesday 30th January 2008 at 17.30 hours at the Chakri Throne hall. Prior to the Ceremony, Siriraj Hospital will invite the Prince Mahidol Awardees to give lectures.
In the field of Medicine:
Professor Axel Ullrich, Director of Molecular Biology at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Germany.
Professor Axel Ullrich has played a leading role in the study of molecular mechanisms of cancer and pioneering the concept of ‘targeted cancer therapy’. Consequently, the development of drugs that act specifically at the targeted areas offers better efficacy in killing cancer cells while doing less harm to normal cells and, therefore, reducing the side effect of cancer treatment.
Professor Ullrich discovered and evaluated the biological and clinical significance of a breast oncogene called HER2/c-erbB2 and found that patients with this type of cancer experience critical and rapidly-spreading tumors. His laboratory then developed into Herceptin (Trastuzumab) as a therapeutic for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer. As patients with HER2-type cancer have responded very well to the treatment, this targeted therapy which Professor Ullrich developed became a model for therapy experiments targeting other types of cancers.
In the field of Public Health:
* Professor Basil Stuart Hetzel, Honorary President of the International Council for Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders (ICCIDD), Australia
Professor Hetzel is a world leading scientist who has extensively studied the adverse effect of iodine deficiency upon human health, particularly upon the development of the human brain. He is also a key figure in the global campaign against iodine deficiency disorders.
Between 1976 and 1985, Professor Hetzel and his team demonstrated the effect of iodine deficiency on brain development and the central nerve system. He showed that severe iodine deficiency which led to maternal and fetal hypothyroidism caused endemic cretinism and mental retardation. His studies also proved that the IQ of children who have resided in areas with iodine deficiency decreased by 13.5 points in comparison to the IQ of children in areas without iodine deficiency. This serious illness can be prevented by providing iodine to women during the reproductive period before conception.
Professor Hetzel founded and became the first executive director of the International Council for Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders (ICCIDD). The Council has helped promote the comprehensive use of iodized salt in the consumption goods, food industries, and livestock sectors in approximately 100 countries. This work has affected more than 2 billion people around the world.
Professor Hetzel work led to the popular use of the term “Iodine Deficiency Disorders” and increased the awareness of the harmful effects of iodine deficiency. Professor Hetzel’s endeavors against the iodine deficiency have made a significant contribution to the proper development of human population around the world, including Thailand.
* Dr. Sanduk Ruit, Medical Director of Tilganga Eye Centre, Kathmandu, Nepal
Dr. Ruit introduces and further developed an effective suture-less operation technique that allows operations to be performed in large number of patients in remote locations. He also played a leadership role in the manufacturing of inexpensive high-quality intraocular lenses for this operation, costing 50 times less than the imported lenses.
Working in Nepal, Dr. Ruit established eye centers as well as mobile eye clinics for treating patients with cataract in Nepal and the Himalayan region, which later extended to other countries including China, India, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Vietnam and North Korea.
Furthermore, Dr. Ruit and his team have trained more than 500 eye surgeons and healthcare personnel from both developed and developing countries in Asia, North America, Europe and Australia on this cost-effective and portable technique of eye surgery, resulting in more than 35 millions cataract operations around the world.
As an ophthalmologist in developing country, Dr. Sanduk Ruit is internationally recognized for his tireless work in restoring the eye sights of millions of cataract patients in poor countries through safe, effective and economical surgery. His comprehensive cataract treatment, extending from operational method, medical equipment, to public health service, has benefited millions of lives throughout the world.