Oriol Mitjà Villar, 2013 FPdGi Scientific Research Award

Awarded for his exemplary dedication in the field of treating infectious diseases endemic in developing countries and for the huge international impact of his work to completely eradicate yaws.

Oriol Mitjà Villar (Barcelona, 1980) is a doctor specialising in infectious diseases, doctor in Medicine and special advisor to the WHO on yaws, a neglected tropical infection that affects children in poor and rural populations, causing disfiguration and painful lesions on the skin and bones.

The aim of Dr Mitjà’s project is to completely eradicate yaws from the planet. After smallpox, yaws could be the second disease to be eradicated thanks to discoveries made by Oriol Mitjà Villar. Since 2010, he has been studying strategies for controlling tropical diseases and has led a research team in Papua New Guinea. He has published numerous articles on the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of yaws, among them a reference article in The Lancet (2012)that demonstrated for the first time the efficacy of an oral antimicrobial treatment (azithromycin) against yaws. As a result of these discoveries, he was appointed as special advisor to the WHO on neglected tropical diseases. In March 2012, he was involved in drafting the new WHO recommendations for treating yaws with azithromycin and in developing the new strategy to completely eradicate the disease by 2020. He has also written reviews for prestigious specialist journals, including a seminar for The Lancet, and for the online publication UpToDate, and he has received numerous international awards, including the Anne-Maurer Cecchini and the European Tropical Medicine Awards.

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