At the annual meeting of the Coalition for Operational Research on Neglected Tropical Diseases (COR-NTD), the Neglected Tropical Diseases Support Center announced Dr. Gary Weil as winner of the 2023 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 the research community with those who implement NTD control and elimination programs. Dr. Kyelem was known not only for his career achievements, but also for his positive approach to his work. His fundamental optimism is one of Dr. Kyelem’s personal attributes that the selection committee used as criteria to select the awardee.
Dr. Weil is a Professor of Medicine and Professor of Molecular Microbiology at Washington University in St. Louis. His professional interests include clinical and molecular parasitology, tropical medicine and global health. Weil has been a leading researcher and contributor to the fields of filariasis and onchocerciasis for over 30 years. He has a far-ranging CV with over 200 publications across a wide array of tropical diseases. His contributions include development of the antigen detection test for lymphatic filariasis (LF) which has been important for the global LF elimination program. For the past decade, as leader of the DOLF Project, he has led studies of improved treatments for LF and onchocerciasis. These included IDA triple drug therapy for LF elimination outside of Africa and albendazole monotherapy for LF elimination in Central Africa. The work continues, and exciting new developments are just over the horizon.
“I have been fortunate that my work with others has improved methods for diagnosis and treatment of LF and onchocerciasis. My goal in embarking on a research career was to try to apply modern scientific approaches to help combat infectious diseases in tropical countries in ways that would make a practical difference,” said Weil. “I am happy to accept the Kyelem Prize as a front man or representative for the many researchers and research teams I have worked with to conduct these important studies; together we have made a difference.”
This year, nominations for the Kyelem Prize were solicited from the more than 1,400 individuals receiving invitations to the COR-NTD meeting. In total, 7 different individuals were shortlisted from the nomination pool, 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.
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), Dr. David Addiss (2021) and Dr. Uche Amazigo (2022).
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. It is supported by grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.S. Agency for International Development.