Dr. David D. Ho received the Prince Mahidol Award on January 28, 2014.
On November 21, 2013 The Prince Mahidol Award Foundation of the royal family of the Kingdom of Thailand announced that our institute director, David D. Ho, will receive the Prince Mahidol Award in Medicine for his outstanding contributions to the field of HIV/AIDS. He shares the award in Medicine with Anthony Fauci of the NIH.
The Prince Mahidol Award Foundation was established on January 1, 1992 in memory of the birth of His Royal Highness Prince Mahidol of Songkla, who is credited for modernizing medicine and public health in Thailand. Each year, The Prince Mahidol Award Foundation gives out two awards, one in medicine and one in public health. In the past twenty-two years, a total sixty-four individuals, groups of individuals, or institutions have received the Prince Mahidol Award. Each awardee receives a medal, a royal certificate and a $100,000 cash award.
Dr. Ho was recognized for his unraveling of HIV dynamics and launching the era of combination antiretroviral therapy. His elegant studies, dating back to 1994, unveiled the relentless high-level HIV replication that drove the rapid destruction of the important CD4 T-lymphocytes in HIV-infected individuals. These findings revolutionized our basic understanding of HIV infection. This knowledge led Dr. Ho to calculate viral mutation rates in vivo and to conclude that treating HIV with one or two drugs was doomed to fail. In contrast, therapy using a combination of three or more drugs, forcing the virus to make multiple mutations simultaneously, had a good mathematical probability of success. Dr. Ho and his colleagues then launched the first set of clinical trials using a triple combination of antiretroviral drugs that resulted in unprecedented virus control in patients. Since this turning point, HIV infection has been transformed from an automatic death sentence to a manageable disease, and a massive international effort is now underway to deliver such life-saving treatment to the developing world. Recent WHO/UNAIDS estimates indicate that nearly 14 million person-years of life have been saved in Sub-Saharan Africa alone. Dr. Ho provided the scientific insight and served as the major driving force behind this medical breakthrough in what is arguably the worst plague in human history.
The Prince Mahidol award ceremony was held at the Chakri Throne Hall and presided by Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn on January 28, 2014. The award in public health was shared by Peter Piot and Jim Kim.