Award for Italian excellence boosts ties

Award for Italian excellence boosts ties

Dr Napoleone Ferrara's receipt of the Prince Mahidol Award 2023 epitomises Italy's longstanding tradition of groundbreaking contributions in the fields of medicine and scientific research

Dr Somsak Leeswadtrakul, second right, member of Mahidol University's Council, presents a bouquet of flowers to Dr Napoleone Ferrara. Members of the university council extend their congratulations to the professor for receiving the Prince Mahidol Award for 2023. From left, Prof Prasit Watanapa, former dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Siriraj Hospital; Prof Banchong Mahaisavariya, president of Mahidol University; Paolo Dionisi, Ambassador of Italy to Thailand; Chica Ferrara, wife of Prof Dr Ferrara, and, far right, Clinical Professor Udom Kachintorn, former president of Mahidol University and former deputy minister of the Education Ministry.
Dr Somsak Leeswadtrakul, second right, member of Mahidol University's Council, presents a bouquet of flowers to Dr Napoleone Ferrara. Members of the university council extend their congratulations to the professor for receiving the Prince Mahidol Award for 2023. From left, Prof Prasit Watanapa, former dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Siriraj Hospital; Prof Banchong Mahaisavariya, president of Mahidol University; Paolo Dionisi, Ambassador of Italy to Thailand; Chica Ferrara, wife of Prof Dr Ferrara, and, far right, Clinical Professor Udom Kachintorn, former president of Mahidol University and former deputy minister of the Education Ministry.

The recent awarding of the Prince Mahidol Award, Thailand's prestigious honour in the field of medicine, to an Italian medical doctor marks a significant milestone in the strengthening of Thai-Italian ties which span over 156 years.

The Italian Embassy in Thailand recently hosted a celebratory ceremony for Prof Dr Napoleone Ferrara, an Italian scientist and physician honoured with the Prince Mahidol Award 2023 in Medicine.

Notable figures in Thailand with strong ties to Italy, including business tycoon Dr Somsak Leeswadtrakul, a member of Mahidol University's council and chairman of the university's Asset Policy and Management Committee, were invited to the ceremony, further solidifying relationships between the countries.

Mahidol University also organised a celebration to congratulate the recipients of the royal awards bestowed by Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn on Jan 24 at the Grand Palace.

Thailand and Italy have had longstanding bilateral relations since the establishment of diplomatic relations on Oct 3, 1868, with areas of cooperation including politics, the economy, education, tourism, society and culture, science, technology and innovation.

Despite a 3% overall decline in Thailand's international trade value in 2023, the trade value between Thailand and Italy grew by 2.7% to 175.5 billion baht, according to the Commerce Ministry.

The Mahidol Award is renowned for its discerning recognition of exceptional individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the field of medicine. By bestowing this honour upon Prof Dr Ferrara, Thailand acknowledges the global nature of healthcare achievements, transcending geographical boundaries.

Dr Ferrara's journey began at the University of Catania, his hometown, where he earned his degree in medicine and surgery. He committed his career to medical research, primarily in the United States. Among his notable accomplishments were his being the first scientist to isolate and clone a key protein (VEGF) that promotes cancer growth, leading to the development of new anti-VEGF therapies for various diseases.

Dr Ferrara joins a long list of distinguished Italian figures who have made contributions to medical research and healthcare. This list includes Nobel Prize winners such as Rita Levi-Montalcini, recognised in 1986 for her discovery of growth factors, and Mario Capecchi, honoured in 2007 for his work on gene modifications in mice using embryonic stem cells.

Italy's reputation for medical innovation and cutting-edge advancements was further highlighted by the world's first augmented reality surgical operation at Sant'Orsola hospital in Bologna in 2020. The lead surgeon used a visor to access real-time patient data, marking a milestone in medical procedures.

The country's technological prowess in healthcare is evident in state-of-the-art facilities like Policlinico Universitario Gemelli in Rome and the Niguarda and San Raffaele hospitals in Milan. This innovative spirit in medicine is nurtured by Italy's high-quality university education and leading research centres, such as the Human Technopole in Milan, dedicated to enhancing human health and well-being.

Healthcare is a top priority in Italy's National Research Programme, emphasising innovation and international collaboration. Significant investments in R&D, propelled by the Italian National Recovery and Resilience Plan, have solidified Italy's reputation for scientific productivity and a high national Hirsch index.

Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn bestows the Prince Mahidol Award for 2023 upon Prof Dr Napoleone Ferrara at the Grand Palace.

Italian Ambassador to Thailand Paolo Dionisi with Prof Dr Napoleone Ferrara.

Archbishop Peter Bryan Wells, Apostolic Nuncio to Thailand, and Dr Somsak Leeswadtrakul express their congratulations to Prof Dr Ferrara.

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