Global Achievement Award 2017
Richard Axel, Med ’71
Dr. Axel is University Professor and Investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute,
Columbia University Medical Center. He obtained an A.B. from Columbia College and an M.D. from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. In earlier studies, Richard Axel and his colleagues, Michael Wigler and Saul Silverstein developed gene transfer techniques that permit the introduction of virtually any gene into any cell. These studies not only allowed for a novel approach to isolate genes but also provided a detailed analysis of how they worked. At the same time, these experiments allowed for the production of an increasingly large number of clinically important proteins. These studies also led to the isolation and functional analysis of a gene for the lymphocyte surface protein, CD4, the cellular receptor for the AIDS virus, HIV. Dr. Axel then began to apply molecular biology to problems in neuroscience with the expectation that genetics could interface with neuroscience to approach the tenuous relationship between genes, behavior, and perception. His studies on the logic of the sense of smell revealed over a thousand genes involved in the recognition of odors and provided insight into how genes shape our perception of the sensory environment. Dr. Axel’s current work centers on how the recognition of odors is translated into an internal representation of sensory quality in the brain and how this representation leads to meaningful thoughts and behavior. His work on the olfactory system won him and Linda Buck, a former postdoctoral research scientist in his group, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2004.
Ruben del Prado, BSPH ’88
Immediately after graduating with a Master of Public Health degree from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 1988, Dr. del Prado was appointed the first director of the National AIDS Program of his native country, Suriname, a post he held for nine years. He joined the University of Suriname Faculty of Medical Sciences in 1997 where he established the Department of Public Health that he headed until UNAIDS recruited him in 1999. As the UNAIDS regional adviser, he covered 24 countries and territories across the English, French, Dutch and Spanish speaking Caribbean—the region with the world’s second highest HIV prevalence. He became both well-respected and notorious for calling on leaders to be more responsible and realistic regarding sexuality in public health. He helped form the Pan Caribbean Partnership on AIDS, which contributed to the decrease in the price of life-saving antiretroviral drugs. In 2001, UNAIDS moved him to a senior policy advisory position in Geneva. As UNAIDS Uganda Director beginning in 2002, he campaigned for “no child born with HIV and keeping mothers alive and well.” Amidst an influx of fundamentalist missionaries, he was able to get condoms back on shelves. After holding HIV prevention meetings with representatives of gay communities, an attempt to assassinate him failed in April 2004, and he was assigned to India. In New Delhi, from 2005 to 2006, he facilitated the development of the country’s third National AIDS Control Plan. Before his reassignment to Guyana, he convened governments, civil society, and donors from across Asia and the Pacific to a male sexual health consultation that led to the formation of “The Asia Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health,” now an influential regional NGO. From 2006, as UNAIDS Director in Guyana, del Prado lobbied against a bill that would broadly criminalize HIV transmission. After his well informed and passionate testimony in parliament, the bill was withdrawn. Following this he was able to help the government develop a 5-year HIV strategic plan and negotiate Global Fund commitment to fund the plan. Now in Kathmandu as the UNAIDS country director and representative to Nepal and Bhutan since 2012, he facilitated salvaging millions of US dollars in Global Fund money that was going to be withheld from the country. In the lead up to the vote on Nepal's new constitution in September 2015, he played a crucial role in ensuring inclusion of "non-discrimination on the basis of health related issues" and "recognizing and protecting the rights of LGBT people"—a first in Asia. Because of his advocacy in Bhutan, HIV will, from 2017, for the first time be part of Bhutan’s National 5-year Plan. In 2010, Dr. del Prado was invited to join JHU’s Alumni Council. He travels to Baltimore at least three times each year for guest lectures and workshops at Bloomberg School of Public Health. He has served on the Dean’s Advisory Council and is a much sought after student mentor and speaker on public health practice.
Meghan E. Lopez, Nurs’07, ’10
Meghan Lopez is a Board-Certified Family Nurse Practitioner who has worked in international program development and management for more than 15 years. She is currently the Director of Global Programs based in El Salvador for Whole Child International, an organization devoted to improving the lives of orphaned, abandoned and neglected children worldwide. Her work has contributed to health and child-development projects ranging from training rural community health workers; primary-care patient education; assessment of and training for quality childcare; and relationship development with local, national, and international partners. Meghan spent four years in the Peace Corps in Paraguay, and then returned to the United States to pursue her degrees in Nursing at Johns Hopkins University where she also became certified as a doula. She has published in peer-reviewed journals such as Perspectives in Infant Mental Health and Infants & Young Children. Meghan co-authored a unique tool, and spearheaded the conversion to an app, for assessment of the quality childcare in limited-resource settings (WCI-QCUALS) which has been piloted in several Central American countries as well as China, Ethiopia and Oklahoma. Recently with the University of Central American, Meghan edited and co-authored a university course textbook for best practices in early childhood care, and direct caregiver training program both of which are now being used in several countries in Latin America. Meghan has lived and worked in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Paraguay, studied in Morocco and Haiti, had assignments in China, Bolivia, Argentina, Honduras, Guatemala, Ghana, and the Philippines, and served as an NGO representative to the United Nations in New York. Meghan remains a part of the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, where she very successfully precepted students and is a strong mentor and teacher.
Paul Sekyere-Nyantakyi, Med ’97
Reason for Nomination: Dr.Sekyere-Nyantakyi earned his Doctor of Medicine from the Johns Hopkins Medical School in 1997. Dr. Sekyere-Nyantakyi returned to Ghana and established Quest Healthcare, a private healthcare company in Ghana that provides medical diagnostic/preventive medicine services to private and public clinics and hospitals. In order to fulfill his ambition of establishing a world-class diagnostic center in Ghana, Quest Healthcare partnered with Lancet Laboratories, South Africa, to form a new joint venture, MDS-Lancet Laboratories Ghana Limited, an ISO 15189-2012 accredited company. MDS-Lancet Laboratories is the leading private medical laboratory service in Ghana, processing more than 1000 patient samples daily. The Lab runs free screening for Hepatitis B annually on World Hepatitis Day. Over 5000 people have been screened in partnership with the Okyeame Kwame Hep B Foundation in 3 years. In 2011, 201, and 2013 the lab won the gold category of the Ghana-Africa Business Awards. The company won Platinum, the ultimate award of the Ghana-African Business Award in 2014 for its contribution to the development of Ghana in the context of new partnership for Africa Development (NEPAD) in the health Sector.