Bangladeshi scientist Dr Firdausi Qadri, who has been instrumental in developing vaccines that have saved millions of lives, has been honoured with the Ramon Magsaysay Award, regarded as Asia's equivalent to Nobel Prize.
Dr Qadri is a senior scientist and Head of Mucosal Immunology and Vaccinology Laboratory at icddr,b (International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease and Research, Bangladesh). Firdausi Qadri has been recognised by the award for her passion and lifelong devotion to the scientific profession; her vision of building the human and physical infrastructure that will benefit the coming generation of Bangladeshi scientists, women scientists in particular, and her untiring contributions to vaccine development, advanced biotechnological therapeutics and critical research that has been saving millions of precious lives.
Established in 1958, the Ramon Magsaysay Award is Asia’s premier prize and highest honour. It celebrates the memory and leadership example of the seventh Philippine president after whom the award is named, and is given every year to individuals or organisations in Asia who manifest the same selfless service and transformative influence that ruled the life of the late and beloved Filipino leader.
This year’s Magsaysay Award winners will each receive a certificate, a medallion bearing the likeness of the late President, and a cash prize. They will be formally conferred the Magsaysay Award during formal Presentation Ceremonies to be held on November 28, at the Ramon Magsaysay Centre in Manila.
Dr Qadri focused on communicable diseases, immunology, vaccine development and clinical trials. Her most challenging engagements came in the fight against cholera and typhoid, major diseases in Bangladesh and Asian and African countries with poor access to safe water, sanitation, education, and medical care.
She had a key role in the development of a more affordable oral cholera vaccine (OCV) and the typhoid conjugate vaccine (ViTCV) for adults, children, and even infants as young as nine months. In 2014, she founded the Institute for Developing Science and Health Initiatives (ideSHi). Dr Qadri leads ideSHi, which conducts biomedical research and runs training courses and a testing centre. It has become a hub of scientific activity by local and visiting scientists in Bangladesh.
The scientist’s work includes basic and applied immunology of infectious diseases but also clinical and large field-based studies on enteric vaccines.