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Queen's Anniversary Prize awarded in recognition of our response to Ebola epidemic

Ebola public health wall message in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Credit: LSHTM/Tom Mooney

The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) has been awarded a distinguished Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in recognition of its response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa in 2014/15.

The Prizes are part of the honours system and are awarded every two years by The Queen on the Prime Minister’s advice. The honour is awarded to institutions who have demonstrated excellence, innovation and practical benefit to the UK and for public benefit in general. 

Director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Professor Baron Peter Piot KCMG, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded this prestigious honour. When the Ebola epidemic became widespread and unmanageable, it was our duty to support global efforts to help stop the outbreak.

“Our response was possible because of our unique combination of a strong science base, our responsive support staff, our global networks, and above all because of who we are, how we think and what our commitment is; in other words our ethos. I would like to thank our committed community of staff, students and alumni for their skill and ongoing dedication to tackling major global health issues.” 

When the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the Ebola outbreak in West Africa was a public health emergency of international concern in August 2014, LSHTM coordinated urgent response efforts. More than 400 academic and professional services staff volunteered to respond, with many volunteers deployed via Save the Children, Public Health England, Médecins Sans Frontières and the WHO. LSHTM continued to pay the salary of anyone who volunteered to work on Ebola care and control in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, or backfill posts in WHO offices.

Staff and students carried out mathematical modelling and other research to support Ebola response planning. Researchers carried out accelerated clinical trials in the field, including the EBOVAC Ebola vaccine trial which is currently ongoing. Experts established an Ebola Response Anthropology Platform to help health workers develop culturally sensitive interventions, and developed free online education programmes to combat the spread of the disease. LSHTM was part of an independent panel advising on major reforms targeted at prevention of future global outbreaks and now runs the UK Public Health Rapid Support Team in partnership with Public Health England, funded by the UK Government.  

LSHTM is one of 21 UK universities and colleges of further education that were announced as recipients of Queen’s Anniversary Prizes in the current - twelfth biennial - round of the scheme at an event hosted at St James’s Palace by The Royal Anniversary Trust on Thursday 30 November. 

Work recognised in this round is wide ranging and includes rail and aviation engineering, climate change and environmental protection, cancer drug discovery and drug safety, and food and nutrition for health. 

Damon Buffini, Chairman of the Royal Anniversary Trust said: “The focus of the Prizes on innovation and practical benefit to people and society is a great incentive to our universities and colleges to think critically about the direction of their work and its application and relevance in today’s world. The national recognition and prestige conferred by the Prizes also enables individual institutions to win support and leverage funding for their future plans.”

The Prizes, unique in the honours system in being analogous to honours to individuals but granted to an institution as a whole, will be presented in February 2018 by a member of the royal family at a ceremony to be held at Buckingham Palace. As a national honour, the prize consists of a silver-gilt medallion and a Prize Certificate signed by HM The Queen.