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Hamdan Medical Awards Announces the topics of the 12th Term 28 February 2022
The Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Award for Medical Sciences announced the topics of the Awards for the 12th term (2021-2022). The Grand Hamdan Award topic for this term is infectious diseases, while prevention, immunity, and therapy related to infectious diseases are the topics for Hamdan Award for Medical Research Excellence awards.
The Award topics were announced by His Excellency Abdullah bin Souqat, Executive Director of the Award. In his statement, His Excellency said, "the announcement of the 12th term topics comes after the passing away of the late Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who left a clear imprint in the field of humanitarian and medical work and scientific research." He added that the late Sheikh Hamdan was a role model in his approach to excellence, as his efforts to improve the health sector inside and outside the UAE have been far-reaching.
These efforts resulted in the establishment of the Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Award for Medical Sciences, which has worked for more than 20 years to support several scientific research projects and honor hundreds of outstanding scientists who are seriously seeking to promote scientific and health research in the world.
The Awards has set a precedence in honoring outstanding minds and achievements, such as Professor Harvey J. Alter who won the Grand Hamdan Award in the 9th term (2015-2016) and Professor Robert J. Edwards, winner of the 2002 Grand Hamdan Award. Both these awardees went on to win the Nobel Prize in 2020 and 2010 respectively, underscoring the Award's role in highlighting science pioneers around the world.
HE stressed that the award in its 12th term is an extension of the late Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum's vision, in supporting the health sector and upgrading scientific research locally, regionally, and globally. He also pointed out that the selection of infectious diseases as the theme of this term is especially relevant in light of the global suffering due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and is only a continuation of the vision of the late Sheikh Hamdan in the tireless follow-up of everything that is new and influential in this sector.
On his part, Prof. Youssef Mohamed Abdel Razzaq, Chairman of the Scientific Committee of the Award mentioned that infectious diseases cause devastating effects in areas with limited health infrastructure and resources where it is difficult to diagnose and use appropriate treatment immediately.
“Despite substantial advances in the research and management of diseases in the 20th century and the successful fight against several infections by using vaccines, antivirals, antifungal drugs, and antibiotics, the control and extermination of these diseases face substantial difficulties. These difficulties result from the revival of some infections, growing resistance to medications, new emerging diseases such as HIV/AIDS and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, human impact and interaction with the environment, and the rising rate of international traveling. All of these factors have led to a higher risk for potential pandemics like the current COVID-19 caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2”, he added
Prevention, immunity, and therapy were chosen as sub-topics for the Awards to complete the circle of Infectious Diseases Control. Prevention and immunity are the first line of defense against infectious diseases. Treatment, then comes as a critical step to get rid of the disease and limit its spread.
It is observed that Vaccines also have the potential to be used to treat diseases, rather than prevent them. Such therapeutic vaccines are being targeted at persistent infections, such as shingles and those due to human papilloma virus. They are also being targeted at non-infectious conditions, including autoimmune disorders, tumours, allergies, and drug addiction. Another clear potential for the use of existing vaccines and developing new ones will manifest itself in the reduction of infection spread and a consequent reduction in antibiotics use and resistance. For example, if every child in the world received a vaccine for an infection with Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria (which can cause pneumonia, meningitis and middle ear infections), this would prevent an estimated 11 million days of antibiotic use each year.
The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly proved the need to anticipate and prepare, rather than merely react to emerging pathogens. New therapeutics and vaccines need proactive drug development strategies to shorten the time before treatments are accessible.