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Leading American, Japanese scientists named Prince Mahidol Awardees

Two leading international scientists whose work had a profound impact on science and global health have been recognized as the 2014 Prince Mahidol Awards Laureates.  Professors Akira Endo from Japan and Donald Henderson from the U.S. made their mark especially in the 1970s, but benefits of their works endure to this day.
 
The award ceremony was presided over H.R.H. Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn which took place on 28 January 2015 at the Royal Palace’s Chakri Throne Hall.
 
Professor Endo, a distinguished professor at Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, discovered the first anti-cholesterol Statin called compactin, after isolating it from the fungus penicillium citrinum in 1976.  The work is seen as a “major milestone” in the prevention and treatment of coronary heart disease and other major vascular diseases.  This discovery, the Prince Mahidol Award committee said, “led to an effective treatment of hypercholesterolemia and a significant reduction of coronary heart disease and stroke, thus saving millions of lives worldwide.”
 
Professor Endo told Thai media of what the “great honor” it was to receive the award, noting Prince Mahidol’s studies in public health in America before introducing modern medical care and treatments to the country.”
 
Professor Henderson, Dean Emeritus of the Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, led the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Smallpox Campaign in the 1970s.  The campaign became the first to completely eradicate the disease from the world.  In May 1980, the WHO declared that the global goal of eradicating smallpox had been achieved. The horror of smallpox is defined by its toll in lives. In the 20th Century alone the disease claimed 300 to 500 million people.
 
Professor Henderson took up his role with the WHO’s Smallpox Eradication Unit in 1966, with a goal to vaccinate as many as possible to halt the disease.  The program’s success, even in conflict areas, added impetus to eradicate the disease altogether.
 
In efforts to eradicate other diseases, Professor Handerson says more can be done.  “I think we can do better than what we’re doing but I think what we’re kind of excited about is to see how much we have done,” he said.
 
In addition, Professor Henderson says major health challenges continue to confront societies. He places AIDS as the world’s main health threat, given that there is still no vaccine against the virus.  The WHO says over 36 million people have died since the start of the epidemic more than two decades ago, with over 75 million infected with HIV – the virus that leads to AIDS.  As a result, the need to find a vaccine is increasing.
 
“The treatment is not complete for anyone.  They’re taking it for life.  So it’s a great threat that we have right before us at this time. The number of people that require drugs is gradually increasing.  We’re finding out that it’s not easy to keep these people on drugs indefinitely.  That’s a problem.  And the cost of this is mounting exponentially,” Professor Henderson said.
 
The current challenge in the global community is the fight against the Ebola virus in West Africa.  In recent days a trial of an Ebola vaccine has been launched in Monrovia, the capital of Sierra Leone.  The first outbreak of Ebola dates back to the 1970s.  The current tragedy has claimed more than 8,500 lives and infected more than 21,000 people.
 
See the original article at Thailand e-Focus

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