US, French doctors win recognition

US, French doctors win recognition

Pécoul: Wants medicine for all.
Pécoul: Wants medicine for all.

An American doctor who found that aspirin can prevent blood clots in arteries and a French doctor who tirelessly works to find the cure for neglected diseases around the world are this year's recipients of the prestigious Prince Mahidol Award.

Dr Valentin Fuster, who is now director of the Cardiac Centre at New York's Mount Sinai Hospital, won the award in the field of medicine while Dr Bernard Pécoul from France won the award for his work in the field of public health, the Prince Mahidol Award Foundation committee announced on Thursday.

According to the committee, Dr Fuster's discovery proved his outstanding performance and contribution to the health and welfare of patients with embolism and/or coronary heart disease.

His research found that aspirin can prevent abnormal blood clotting that can be fatal to individuals with narrowed heart arteries, especially before heart bypass surgery can be carried out.

Fuster: Easing heart problems

His findings also led to the development of drug-eluting stents, which could benefit a patient for over 10 years, the committee said.

The committee also conferred the prestigious award to Dr Pécoul, the director of Medicine Sans Frontiers who founded the Drugs for Neglected Disease Initiative (DNDi) in 2003, who says his career started in Thailand many years ago.

The DNDi executive director started the initiative with the goal of providing quality drugs for lesser-known diseases, such as leishmaniasis and sleeping sickness, to poor countries across Africa, Latin America and Asia.

"This award also holds a special significance for me because I began my career in Thailand, where I worked in refugee camps 35 years ago.

"It was there that I saw first-hand the medical neglect that eventually led me and many partners to create DNDi," said Dr Pécoul.

The Prince Mahidol Award Foundation was established to commemorate the centenary of the birth of His Royal Highness Prince Mahidol of Songkla, the father of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Great, in recognition of his exemplary contribution to modern medicine and public health in Thailand.

Over 28 years, it has bestowed awards on 85 people -- including four Thais -- five of which won the Nobel prize.

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