Award recognizes technical, programmatic and personal contributions to the control and elimination of neglected tropical diseases
Decatur— November 10, 2021 — Today, at the annual meeting of the Coalition for Operational Research on Neglected Tropical Diseases (COR-NTD), the Neglected Tropical Diseases Support Center announced Dr. David Addiss as winner of the 2021 Kyelem Prize. The Kyelem Prize, given annually in honor of Dr. Dominique Kyelem, recognizes people in the neglected tropical disease (NTD) field who have been particularly effective in bringing together those who implement NTD control and elimination. Dr. Kyelem was known not only for his career achievements, but also for his positive personal attributes that are the characteristics reviewed by the selection committee.
“If the Kyelem Prize has always connoted special characteristics of special people in our NTD community – including their competence, effectiveness, collegiality, sincerity, determination and optimism – Dr. David Addiss certainly belongs in that coterie of the Prize’s earlier recipients. But he also emphasizes a dimension of this special-ness that we’ve probably felt but not much focused on before – compassion and its importance in global health,” said Eric Ottesen, former director and special advisor to the Neglected Tropical Diseases Support Center.
“I am deeply honored to receive this award, which commemorates the life and work of Dominique Kyelem. Dominique embodied two essential aspects of compassion: a ‘soft front’ of sensitivity to the suffering of people affected by NTDs, and a ‘strong back’ of commitment and hard work to alleviate that suffering. The values, character, and skills that Dominique exemplified lie at the very heart of our collective effort to control and eliminate NTDs,” said Addiss.
This year, nominations for the Kyelem prize were solicited from the more than 1,500 individuals receiving invitations to the COR-NTD meeting. In total, 19 different individuals were nominated, then reviewed independently by a panel of global health experts, including representatives from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas. These individuals then voted by secret ballot to choose this year’s Kyelem Prize awardee.
Members of the Kyelem Prize judging committee said of Addiss,
“David was one of the first to focus on the science of lymphedema management in lymphatic filariasis“ and “has helped focus attention on the second pillar of the global elimination strategy for LF.”
“David’s not just focused on compassion, but on making programs safer.”
“He’s moving national programs further (with his work on compassion).”
“David gently, discreetly and firmly has taken all of these programs he has worked with to the next level.”
David Addiss, MD, MPH, is Director and Founder of The Task Force’s Focus Area for Compassion and Ethics. After medical school and early years of practice, he began a 20-year career at CDC as an epidemiologist with many interests and achievements, but with a primary focus soon evolving towards lymphatic filariasis and the clinical research needed for developing both the MDA treatment strategies for LF elimination and the tools for individual patient management of LF clinical disease in the endemic populations. His focus and concern for the affected individuals and how their lives and well-being could be improved were paramount in all his work, and together with his colleagues from WHO and around the world, he used his considerable writing and convening skills to codify ‘best practices’ in manuals, courses and publications that are still the basis of clinical management of LF today.
In 2006, Addiss went to the Fetzer Institute as a program officer directing a program that focused on science and spirituality – overseeing research initiatives on the neuroscience and psychology of compassion and forgiveness, on compassionate health care, and on compassion in global heath. He then sought to bring these two distinct communities together. In 2011, he started with his first of many roles with the Task Force for Global Health as director of the Children Without Worms coalition. In Addiss’ current role, he helps guide The Task Force’s programs to operate ethically and be guided by their core values, including that of compassion.
Past awardees include Dr. Julie Jacobson (2015), Dr. Vasanthapuram Kumaraswami (2016), Professor David Molyneux (2017), Dr. Mwele Malecela (2017), Professor Alan Fenwick (2018) Professor John Owusu Gyapong (2019), Dr. Massitan Dembélé (2020) and Dr. Yao Sodahlon (2020).
The Coalition for Operational Research on Neglected Tropical Diseases (COR-NTD) is a forum for researchers, program implementers and their supporters with the shared goal of optimizing NTD control and elimination globally. Supported by grants principally from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the U.K. Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, the Neglected Tropical Diseases Support Center at the Task Force for Global Health serves as the Coalition Secretariat.