Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn represented His Majesty the King in conferring the 2022 Prince Mahidol Award in Chakri Maha Prasat Throne Hall at the Grand Palace to honour four laureates for their work in the fields of medicine and public health.
Prof Ralph A DeFronzo from the United States was awarded the 2022 Prince Mahidol Award for his work in the field of medicine.
Fellow Americans Dr Douglas R Lowy, Dr John T Schiller, along with Prof Ian H Frazer from Australia received the award for their contributions to the public health sector.
The award ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul and Deputy Public Health Minister Sathit Pitutecha, along with senior officials and diplomats.
From left: Prof Ralph A DeFronzo from the United States; Dr Douglas R Lowy from the United States; Dr John T Schiller from the United States; Prof Ian H Frazer from Australia
As Prof Frazer was unable to attend, Australia’s ambassador to Thailand, Angela Macdonald, received the award on his behalf.
Speaking at the award ceremony on Thursday, Princess Sirindhorn thanked the Prince Mahidol Award Foundation’s selection committee for selecting the best individuals to honour last year, as well as recognising Prince Mahidol’s contributions to Thailand’s public healthcare system.
“You have achieved great success owing to your efforts, patience and sacrifices to develop and advance medical sciences and public health,” she told the award recipients.
“It has brought real benefits to all mankind,” she added.
Prof DeFronzo studied the pathophysiology of Type-2 diabetes (T2D). He discovered that obesity caused biochemical and molecular disturbances responsible for insulin-resistant T2D.
He also found that an increase in glucose reabsorption via a sodium-glucose co-transporter in the kidneys plays a role in the pathophysiology of T2D.
Meanwhile, the works of Dr Lowy, Dr Schiller and Prof Frazer led to the development of human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccines, which have been rolled out globally.
The vaccines have prevented HPV infection, which can lead to cervical cancer, among other issues.
Prof DeFronzo said that he would conduct further research into the genetics behind genetic-led diabetes.
Dr Lowy said that it was a great honour to receive the award on behalf of women around the world.
Dr Schiller said that Thailand is a successful model of HPV vaccination, with a relatively high vaccination rate of 75% within five years of the programme being rolled out, higher than the rate in the US.