Until recently, Professor Dr Samir Saha was not a name people probably have heard of much. For the introduction, UNESCO has announced him as the winner of 2017 Carlos J Finlay for Microbiology.
Carlos J Finlay Award is a prestigious award created by UNESCO in 1977, on the initiatives of Government of Cuba. This helps in promulgating Scientists engaging in the field of Microbiology. For 2017, this Bangladeshi Scientist along with Professor Shahida Hasnain, founder and chairperson of the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at the University of Punjab in Lahore, Pakistan, qualified for this award.
Dr Samir Saha is the head of the department of microbiology at the Dhaka Shishu (Children’s) Hospital in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and is the Executive Director of Child Health Research Foundation (CHRF) in Bangladesh. A member of Pneumococcal Awareness Council of Experts (PACE), Dr Saha has made notable remarks to combat bacterial infection which causes meningitis and pneumonia. His contribution is recovering the health conditions of most children in the country.
On 17th October, UNESCO released a statement which reads, "As a leading researcher in paediatrics, he [Samir Saha] played a key role in introducing to Bangladesh vaccines against two bacteria that cause meningitis, which had a direct positive impact on the health of children in the country. He has also led research into the resistance to treatment of some pneumococcal diseases."
The statement also adds: “Professor Hasnain significantly contributed to advances in research in environmental, agricultural and medical microbiology. She has notably worked on the heavy metal detoxification mechanisms, salt stress tolerance mechanisms, and bacterial morphogenesis.”
It is confirmed that the prize will be handed out to them on 6th November during the 39th session of the General Conference of UNESCO this year, which will include 195 Member State of the Organization starting from 30 October to 14 November. The prize comprising of an endowment of $10000 will be equally split between the two winners.