UNESCO announces winners of Carlos J. Finlay Prize in Microbiology in 2017

News Hour:

Samir Saha (Bangladesh) and Shahida Hasnain (Pakistan) – two eminent microbiologists have been announced for UNESCO Carlos J. Finlay Prize in Microbiology in 2017. The award was created by UNESCO in 1977, on the initiative of the Government of Cuba, and is given to scientists with research and work that signify an important contribution to the field of Microbiology.

Both prize-winners from Pakistan and Bangladesh were appointed by UNESCO Director-General, Irina Georgieva Bokova, on the basis of the recommendations of an international jury by experts in the field. The Carlos J. Finlay Prize for Microbiology has an endowment of $10,000, which will be divided between the two laureates.

The prize will be granted on November 6, 2017 within the framework of the 39th session of the General Conference of UNESCO, which brings together its 195 member States October 30 to November 14.

Samir Saha

Dr. Samir Saha (second from right) is speaking at 2017 PneumoADIP and Hib Initiative Surveillance Networks Investigators Meeting at Bangkok, Thailand on March 29, 2007.

Samir Saha heads the Microbiology Department of the Dhaka Shishu (Children’s) Hospital in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and is the Executive Director of Child Health Research Foundation (CHRF) in Bangladesh. Dr. Saha, a member of Pneumococcal Awareness Council of Experts (PACE), played a key role in the implementation of vaccines in Bangladesh against bacteria responsible for meningitis and pneumonia, having a direct impact on children health.

For more than a decade, he has been performing surveillance on invasive childhood diseases in Bangladesh. Dr Saha has published more than 100 papers in peer-reviewed journals, mostly exploring the topics of childhood pneumonia and meningitis.

Dr. Saha was awarded the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) Award for Research in Clinical Microbiology, 2017. It was the first time that the prestigious awardee has been selected from a nation outside the developed world. He is also heading the steering committee of the Coalition Against Typhoid (CAT).

Shahida Hasnain is founder and director of the department of microbiology and molecular genetics of the Pakistani University of Punjab, considered as a center of excellence. She is dedicated to studies in the field of environmental, agricultural, medical and industrial microbiology. She has been awarded many distinctions for her intense work.

“Professor Hasnain significantly contributed to advances in research in environmental, agricultural and medical microbiology. She has notably worked on the heavy metal detoxification mechanisms, salt stress tolerance mechanisms, and bacterial morphogenesis,” the UNESCO statement noted.

Dr Shahida Hasnain completed her doctorate from Birmingham University, United Kingdom in the field of Microbial and Molecular Genetics in 1985. Later she completed her post-doctorate studies from the same university in Molecular Biology in 1995.

Dr Shahida Hasnain has published more than 250 articles in various national and international journals. She won several distinctions for her work including UNESCO/ROSTSCA Award for Young Scientist (from Central and South Asian region) in 1988, Fatima Jinnah Gold Medal in 2006 by Government of Punjab, Pakistan and Star Laureate 2007 in Science and Technology by South Asia Publications 2008.

Tareq Salahuddin

Dr. Tareq Salahuddin is an award-winning journalist and a Special Correspondent of News Hour. He is a Public Health Professional working in the development sector. Dr. Tareq, a medical graduate, is a member of Public Health Association of Bangladesh and a former member of the Governing Council and Policy Committee of the World Federation of Public Health Associations (WFPHA), a J2J Fellow on HIV/AIDS and a member of the International AIDS Society. To know more about Dr. Tareq, please visit his personal website (www.tareqsalahuddin.net) or simply Google his name.
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