Gates Foundation’s Julie Jacobson Wins First-Ever Kyelem Prize

PHILADELPHIA (October 23, 2015) - Today, Dr. Julie Jacobson of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was presented with the inaugural Kyelem Prize by the Coalition for Operational Research for Neglected Tropical Diseases (COR-NTD). The award, presented in memory of Dr. Dominique Kyelem (1962-2013), recognized Jacobson’s work to eliminate neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) – especially elephantiasis, river blindness, snail fever, intestinal worms and blinding trachoma.

As Senior Program Officer with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Jacobson has been responsible for developing the Foundation’s grant portfolio addressing NTDs. In this role, she has shepherded key research innovations into program practice and fostered collaborations across the NTD community particularly through her work with the coalition “United to Combat NTDs.” Before joining the Foundation, Jacobson – who is a physician with training in clinical tropical medicine and applied epidemiology – was Scientific Director of Immunization Solutions at PATH and an Epidemic Intelligence Service officer at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A Kyelem Prize committee representing researchers and program implementers worldwide was tasked with selecting a recipient who embodied the enduring legacy of its namesake. After a career as a physician and program manager for lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis) in his home country of Burkina Faso, Dr. Kyelem became Program Director of the Lymphatic Filariasis Support Center (now the Neglected Tropical Diseases Support Center, or NTD-SC) at The Task Force for Global Health in Atlanta, Georgia.

“Dominique was a master at fostering collaboration between researchers and those implementing programs within countries endemic for neglected tropical diseases,” said Eric Ottesen, director of NTD-SC. “More importantly, he did this with a spirit of optimism, thoughtfulness, open-mindedness and dedication that truly personified the spirit of our coalition.”

Jacobson received the award at the annual COR-NTD meeting attended by nearly 300 international researchers and program implementers. Participants assessed progress in the research aimed at optimizing disease elimination and identified knowledge gaps that must be addressed to reach the 2020 control and elimination targets set by the World Health Organization.

“It’s so encouraging to see my father’s spirit live on at this meeting,” said Melissa Kyelem, Dr. Kyelem’s daughter, who helped to present the award. “I feel like I’m getting to understand his work more and more as time goes on.”

About the Coalition for Operational Research on Neglected Tropical Diseases: The Coalition for Operational Research on Neglected Tropical Diseases (COR-NTD) is a collaboration designed to support programs in their efforts to control and eliminate neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). The coalition, managed by the Neglected Tropical Diseases Support Center, is comprised of researchers from the academic community, NTD program implementers, the World Health Organization and other international agencies and representatives of grant-making organizations. Learn more at

About The Task Force for Global Health: The Task Force for Global Health mobilizes partnerships to improve the health and well-being of people around the world. Its programs and projects currently reach an estimated 495 million people in 135 countries. Founded in 1984 by global health pioneer Bill Foege, The Task Force works to end diseases that strike people living in extreme poverty including blinding trachoma, river blindness, intestinal worms, polio, and cholera. The Task Force team consists of 111 scientists, program experts, logisticians, and other global health professionals. It is affiliated with Emory University, headquartered in Decatur, Georgia, and has offices in Guatemala and Ethiopia. The Task Force is the fourth largest nonprofit organization in the United States and the largest in Georgia. Learn more at

Julie Jacobsen accepts Kyelem Prize