The Prince Mahidol Award was established in 1992 to commemorate the 100th birthday anniversary of Prince Mahidol of Songkla, who is recognized by the Thais as ‘The Father of Modern Medicine and Public Health of Thailand’.
His Royal Highness Prince Mahidol of Songkla was born on January 1, 1892, a royal son of Their Majesties King Rama V and Queen Savang Vadhana of Siam. He received his education in England and Germany and earned a commission as a lieutenant in the Imperial German Navy in 1912. In that same year, His Majesty King Rama VI also commissioned him as a lieutenant in the Royal Thai Navy.
Prince Mahidol of Songkla had noted, while serving in the Royal Thai Navy, the serious need for improvement in the standards of medical practitioners and public health in Thailand. In undertaking such mission, he decided to study public health at M.I.T. and medicine at Harvard University, U.S.A. Prince Mahidol set in motion a whole range of activities in accordance with his conviction that human resource development at the national level was of utmost importance and his belief that improvement of public health constituted an essential factor in national development. During the first period of his residence at Harvard, Prince Mahidol negotiated and concluded, on behalf of the Royal Thai Government, an agreement with the Rockefeller Foundation on assistance for medical and nursing education in Thailand. One of his primary tasks was to lay a solid foundation for teaching basic sciences which Prince Mahidol pursued through all necessary measures. These included the provision of a considerable sum of his own money as scholarships for talented students to study abroad. After he returned home with his well-earned M.D. and C.P.H. in 1928, Prince Mahidol taught preventive and social medicine to final year medical students at Siriraj Medical School. He also worked as a resident doctor at McCormick Hospital in Chiang Mai and performed operations alongside Dr. E.C. Cord, Director of the hospital. As ever, Prince Mahidol did much more than was required in attending his patients, taking care of needy patients at all hours of the day and night, and even, according to records, donating his own blood for them.
Prince Mahidol’s initiatives and efforts produced a most remarkable and lasting impact on the advancement of modern medicine and public health in Thailand such that he was subsequently honoured with the title of “Father of Modern Medicine and Public Health of Thailand”.
In commemoration of the Centenary of the Birthday of His Royal Highness Prince Mahidol of Songkla on January 1, 1992, the Prince Mahidol Award Foundation was established under the Royal Patronage of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej to bestow an international award - the Prince Mahidol Award, upon individuals or institutions that have made outstanding and exemplary contributions to the advancement of medical, and public health and human services in the world.
The Prince Mahidol Award will be conferred on an annual basis with prizes worth a total of approximately USD 100,000. A Committee, consisting of world-renowned scientists and public health experts, will recommend selection of laureates whose nominations should be submitted to the Secretary-General of the Foundation before May 31st of each year. The committee will also decide on the number of prizes to be awarded annually, which shall not exceed two in any one year. The prizes will be given to outstanding performance and/or research in the field of medicine for the benefit of mankind and for outstanding contribution in the field of health for the sake of the well-being of the people. These two categories were established in commemoration of His Royal Highness Prince Mahidol’s graduation with Doctor of Medicine (Cum Laude) and Certificate of Public Health and in respect to his speech that:
True success is not in the learning, but in its application to the benefit of mankind.
The Prince Mahidol Award ceremony will be held in Bangkok in January each year and presided over by His Majesty the King of Thailand.