Home » PM of Barbados and the creators of COVID-19 mRNA vaccines were awarded DG Award for Global Health

PM of Barbados and the creators of COVID-19 mRNA vaccines were awarded DG Award for Global Health

During the 67th World Health Assembly, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus awarded the Prime Minister of Barbados and two scientists for their contributions to the advancement of global health.

As the Chair of the Global Leaders Group on Antimicrobial Resistance and for her leadership in addressing health and climate change, Her Excellency Mia Mottley, the Prime Minister of Barbados, receives the 2019 Director-General’s Award for Global Health.

“It is exciting to see Prime Minister Mottley’s outstanding leadership in the battle for a more just, equitable, and sustainable world. According to the WHO, the biggest hazard to human health is climate change. WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated, “Her unwavering efforts for climate action help protect the health of all peoples, now and in the future.” In advance of the World Health Assembly on May 26, Prime Minister Mottley accepted the honor.

During the opening of the World Health Assembly on May 27, Professors Kathalin Karikó and Drew Weissman of the University of Pennsylvania were also recognized for their exceptional contributions to the development of mRNA vaccines for COVID-19.

Dr. Tedros stated, “Professors Karikó and Weissman were instrumental in reducing the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact and saving lives.” “Their leadership in this area has the potential to significantly contribute to global health improvement.”

Prime Minister Mia Mottley is the eighth Prime Minister of Barbados. She became the first woman to occupy the high office in 2018, with the largest majority in the history of the country. PM Mottley was re-elected in 2022, winning all 30 seats in the House of Assembly a second time. Prime Minister Mottley currently also holds the portfolios of the Ministers of Finance, Economic Affairs and Investment. In addition to multiple regional and international roles, PM Mottley is also Chair of the World Health Organization’s Global Leaders Group on Antimicrobial Resistance. She has received multiple accolades for her strong voice in favor of sustainable policies in the context of climate change and other global challenges.

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was given to Professors Kariko and Weissman in 2023. The Nobel Prize committee stated that their finding “fundamentally changed our understanding of how mRNA interacts with our immune system.”

Professor Karikó teaches neurosurgery as an adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine and at the University of Szeged in Hungary. She was employed as senior vice president at BioNTech SE in Mainz, Germany, from 2013 until 2022. Her work on RNA-mediated processes has spanned four decades, with the ultimate goal of creating in vitro-transcribed mRNA for protein therapy.

Professor Drew Weissman is the Roberts Family Professor in Vaccine Research and Director of the Penn Institute for RNA Innovation. He is a Professor in the Department of Medicine and Director of Vaccine Research in the Infectious Diseases Division at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Weissman is a physician, scientist, and pioneer in the science of immunology, with major contributions to the field. Notably, Dr. Weissman, together with Professor Karikó, discovered a novel nucleoside-modified mRNA platform that bypasses adverse immunologic response.

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