Dhaka, Aug 31: Bangladeshi scientist Dr Firdausi Qadri has been named for the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award for being instrumental “in developing vaccines that have saved millions of lives”.
The 70-year-old will be formally conferred the award — the Asian equivalent of the Nobel — at a ceremony on 28 November 2021, at the Ramon Magsaysay Center in Manila.
Dr Qadri was born to a middle-class family in Bangladesh that encouraged women to pursue an education and a career.
She decided to specialise in medical research, earning a degree in biochemistry. Dr Qadri went on to earn a doctorate from Liverpool University in the United Kingdom.
Set on working in her homeland, she taught at a local university and in 1988, joined the International Centre For Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b), a global health research institute based in Dhaka.
Here, Dr Qadir 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.
In this, she had a key role in the development of a more affordable oral cholera vaccine (OCV) and the typhoid conjugate vaccine (Vi-TCV) for adults, children, and even infants as young as nine months.