Donald Mackay Medal

2022 Donald Mackay Medal recipient: Professor Eleni Aklillu

The winner of this year’s Donald Mackay Medal, awarded in conjunction with the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, is Professor Rashida Ferrand. Professor Ferrand was nominated by Professor Liz Corbett.

The Donald Mackay Medal is for outstanding work in tropical health, especially relating to improvements in the health of rural or urban workers in the tropics. It is for those at the mid stage in their career.

Professor Ferrand is Professor of International Health at LSHTM and Wellcome Senior Research Fellow. She has been based in Zimbabwe for the past two decades where she established and directs a research programme that focuses on addressing pressing public health challenges confronting the region. 

Her research focuses on HIV and sexual and reproductive health, adolescent health and comorbidities associated with HIV, as well as multimorbidity across the life-course. The programme has a strong emphasis on building research capacity and has developed a  pipeline for research training, and currently includes 4 postdoctoral, 17 PhD and 6 MSc fellows. She directs a PhD Programme (CREATE: www.create-phd.org) that will train 25 UK and 25 African fellows in global public health.   

I am honoured to receive the Donald Mackay Medal. It is very much a recognition of the team that I have the privilege to work with and their consistent can-do spirit in the face of any challenging circumstances that arise, and of our national and international collaborators.”

Professor Rashida Ferrand

Eligibility and nominations

  • Nominations are annual
  • The Medal is awarded in alternating years by the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (even years) and by the American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene (odd years)
  • Nominees should preferbaly be medically qualified, from anywhere in the world, but those in other disciplines are eligible 
  • Nominees should have conducted outstanding work in tropical health, especially relating to improvements in the health of rural or urban workers in the tropics
  • Nominations should come from RSTMH members and Fellows ONLY
  • Nominees should be RSTMH members or Fellows ONLY

     

Become a member

In the wake of Dr Mackay’s death at age 61, his numerous admirers among his colleagues and friends in the UK and abroad contributed towards the Donald Mackay memorial fund. The fund was initially conceived to commemorate his life and work and to support medical education, training and research in plantation industries.

The criteria were ambitious: “innovative, practical, propagative, evaluable and designed so as not to absolve companies or governments of their responsibilities”. This proved challenging at a time of economic downturn and slashed funding for tropical medicine, together with potential barriers posed by shifting attitudes regarding foreign projects in the developing nations.

These factors led to donor recommendations for a revised focus on recognition by a prize and lectureship of leading contributors to advances in tropical medicine whose work had advanced the original memorial fund goals.

The regulations for the medal and technical details were shepherded by Dr David Bradley and the first award was presented to Dr Ralph Henderson of the WHO at Cambridge University in July 1990.

The award is for outstanding work in tropical health, especially relating to improvements in the health of rural or urban workers in the tropics. 

The medal, which is silver gilt, bears a likeness of Dr Mackay in profile on one side, and on the reverse is a representation of a mosquito with a background of tropical plants.

History and prize

During his career, Dr Donald Mackay was a pioneer of early tropical medical care, particularly renowned for his work on improving the health of tea plantation workers in South Asia.

Dr Mackay was Chief Medical Officer of the Sylhet tea plantations of the James Finlay Company, originally established in Bengal in 1901. The Mackay medal is a living tribute to Donald’s remarkable life and a commemoration of his lifelong promotion of UK-US collaboration in medical education and research.

Dr Mackay, who was Deputy Director of the Ross Institute at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, died in 1981 after many years of outstanding work in tropical occupational health, especially on the tea plantations of South Asia. He was an outstanding physician, brilliant teacher, and a man of the greatest integrity and commitment.