Medal Awarded To A 'Giant In Tropical Medicine'

Press release 8 Mar 2005

One of Britain's most eminent clinicians and scientists in the field of tropical medicine has been presented with a prestigious award at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine for his outstanding contribution. He is Professor David Warrell, Professor of Tropical Medicine and Infectious Diseases at Oxford University and founding director of Oxford’s Centre for Tropical Medicine. 

Professor Warrell is also Honorary Clinical Director of the Alistair Reid Venom Research Unit at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. In accepting the award from the School’s Director, Professor Janet Hemingway, he paid tribute to the late Professor Alistair Reid and to Emeritus Professor Herbert Gilles, a former Dean of the School, as being the ‘godfathers’ who persuaded him towards his interest in tropical medicine. 

In addition to his pivotal role in setting up the pioneering overseas research units that now comprise the Oxford Tropical Network, Professor Warrell has made many significant research contributions. These include defining human cerebral malaria and carrying out the first randomised controlled trials on this disease; proving the efficacy of multi site immunisation against rabies (with his wife, Dr Mary Warrell) and carrying out the first randomised controlled trials in patients bitten by rabid dogs and on the efficacy and safety of anti-toxin antibodies in patients with snake bites and plant poisoning. 

Principal Fellow at the Australian Venom Research Unit in Melbourne, Professor Warrell is consultant malarialist to the British Army, Honorary Medical Advisor to the Medical Research Council and past president of the International Federation for Tropical Medicine and of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. 

The Mary Kingsley Medal was instituted in 1903 by Liverpool Ship owner John Holt, one of the founders of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine in memory of the intrepid Victorian traveler, nurse and naturalist who was a ‘new woman’ of her time. She was a friend of John Holt with whom she campaigned for the setting up of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine at a time when hospital wards in Liverpool were seeing increasing numbers of seamen with tropical disease, due to increased trade between Liverpool and Africa. 

A great lover of the African people and their varying cultures, she died there in 1900 while nursing Boer prisoners of war. The medal is presented very rarely for outstanding achievement in the field of tropical medicine. 

Said Professor David Theakston, Head of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine¹s Venom Unit: “Mary Kingsley’s interests were primarily to help the people of the African continent. Today David Warrell is still trying to help overcome the problems associated with the severe mortality and morbidity caused by malaria, HIV AIDS, other tropical diseases and the neglected problem of snakebite in Africa and elsewhere. These problems will be with us for a long time and, especially in the modern age, we need people who have the same attitudes as Mary Kingsley to help solve them. David Warrell is truly deserving of the highest award that the School can bestow.”

(Issued by Eileen Taylor, Press Officer, 0778 66 13604)