Prince Mahidol Award 2020 in the Field of Public Health

Dr. Bernard Pécoul

Founder and Executive Director,

Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative, (DNDi),


Dr. Bernard Pécoul received his Doctor of Medicine from the University of Clermont-Ferrand, France, and his Master of Public Health from Tulane University in the United States. Prior to engagement with the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), Dr. Pécoul was the Executive Director for Médecins Sans Frontières, an international humanitarian and non-governmental organisation engaged in overcoming barriers to access to essential medicines across Africa, Latin America, and Asia.

While working in Uganda, Dr. Pécoul found out that the usage of Melarsoprol, an organoarsenic compound used for treating human African trypanosomiasis (HAT) or Sleeping Sickness, had caused the death of 1 in 20 patients. The lack of efficient drug and debilitating side-effects of existing medications inspired Dr. Pécoul to found or establish the Drugs for Neglected Disease initiative (DNDi) in 2003 with the aim to deliver safe, effective, and accessible life-saving treatments for people with neglected diseases. Under the lead by Dr.Pécoul, the DNDi has scaled up to an international, not-for-profit research and development organization that has attracted a diverse range of alliances from public and private sectors, e.g., Bill& Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome Trust, cooperations in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas, and many drug companies. To date, DNDi delivered eight effective treatments for neglected diseases, including malaria, sleeping sickness, visceral leishmaniasis, and Chagas disease.

As a result, The World Health Organization has recommended these medications as the first line treatment for neglected tropical diseases in many countries. Recently, DNDi has been developing with more than 20 new chemical remedies and conducting more than 20 ongoing clinical trials. As the Executive Director, Dr. Pécoul has collaborated with researchers, scientists and developmental affiliations to initiate and manage many research projects across the globe, especially in Africa and Latin America. DNDi aims to deliver 16 novel effective treatments (from the total of 18) for the patients of neglected diseases by 2023.

Until now, DNDi has delivered eight new treatments to save countless numbers of neglect patients’ life. Dr. Pécoul’s contribution plays a vital role in reducing the death rate and also improve the quality of life of millions of people worldwide, especially the neglected patients in developing countries and low-income countries.