Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative earns prestigious Princess of Asturias award

The nonprofit, whose Latin America director hails from Catamarca, aims to find treatments for malaria, mycetoma, pediatric HIV, and more

In yet another victory for the Argentine scientific community, the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi) was awarded Spain’s Princess of Asturias award during a ceremony on Friday.

The nonprofit, whose Latin American director, Dr. Sergio Sosa Estani, hails from the province of Catamarca, was honored with a distinction for international cooperation. Earlier this week, the National Administration of Drugs, Food, and Medical Technology (ANMAT, by its Spanish acronym) approved the first COVID-19 vaccine developed entirely in Argentina.

Founded in 2003, DNDi aims to find new treatments for diseases that include malaria, mycetoma, and pediatric HIV, among many others. It has developed as many as 12 effective and accessible treatments for ailing communities across the globe.

DNDi was founded by Médecins Sans Frontières with money from its Nobel Peace Prize proceeds and has received funding from the Indian Council of Medical Research, the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Brazil, the Kenyan Medical Research Institute, the Malaysian Ministry of Health, and the Institut Pasteur of France.

During the ceremony, DNDi Executive Director Dr. Luis Pizarro thanked the Princess of Asturias Foundation for providing “visibility to the millions of people around the world who are neglected by policymakers and commercially driven pharmaceutical research.” The judges also acknowledged DNDi for “[improving] healthcare and [saving] millions of lives worldwide.”

Other 2023 winners include Haruki Murakami (Literature) and Meryl Streep (Arts), who used her acceptance speech to make a plea for empathy and understanding.

“Empathy may be a radical form of outreach and diplomacy useful in other theaters of endeavor,” she said. “In our world, in our increasingly hostile, volatile world, I hope we might take to heart another rule every actor is taught: it is all about listening.”

The Princess of Asturias Foundation was established in 1981. Each year, it awards eight prizes of 50,000 euros (equivalent to US$55,000) for exceptional achievements in the fields of science, the humanities, and public affairs. The award ceremony is held each October in Oviedo, the capital of Asturias, Spain.


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