Harvard Medical School professor and researcher Dr Vikram Harshad Patel will receive the John Dirks Canada Gairdner Award for Global Health.
The honor recognizes the world’s top scientists and their outstanding achievements in global health research. Laureates receive a $100,000 cash honorarium and will be formally presented with their awards on October 24, 2019, at the annual Canada Gairdner Awards Gala in Toronto.
Dr Patel is the Pershing Square Professor of Global Health in the Blavatnik Institute at HMS and professor at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. He is being recognized for research that has transformed understanding of and attitudes toward the importance of mental health in a global context, for his contributions to international mental health policy, and for efforts to improve access to mental health services in areas of the world where mental health resources are acutely lacking.
Patel has been instrumental in establishing the field of global mental health. He has dedicated his research to raising the global profile of mental health through epidemiological research that has demonstrated the burden of mental disorders in low- and middle-income countries as well as their impact on poverty, child growth and development, and risk for HIV infection, among other conditions.
Patel’s work has demonstrated that mental health problems are universal forms of human suffering that fuel a vicious cycle with deprivation. The central theme of Patel’s work has been democratizing access to mental health care and making it a right for everyone, everywhere.
Much of Patel’s work has been done in partnership with Sangath, an Indian nongovernmental organization that he co-founded in 1996. Sangath, one of India’s leading community-based research organizations, received a 2008 MacArthur Foundation International Prize for Creative and Effective Institutions and a 2016 World Health Organization Public Health Champion of India prize.
Patel co-founded the Centre for Global Mental Health and the Mental Health Innovation Network at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the Movement for Global Mental Health, the largest global network of individuals and organizations advocating for promoting services and human rights for people with mental health problems. In 2018, he co-founded the GlobalMentalHealth@Harvard Initiative, which is developing a suite of innovative, interdisciplinary programs aimed at implementing and generating knowledge to transform mental health globally.
The Canada Gairdner Awards, bestowed by the Gairdner Foundation, celebrate the world’s best biomedical and global health researchers through seven annual awards. The awards recognize international excellence in fundamental research and global health work that impact human health.
To date, the Gairdner Foundation has bestowed 387 awards on scientists from 35 countries. Of those, 89 have gone on to receive Nobel Prizes.