One of this year’s Ramon Magsaysay awardees played a major role in vaccine development. Dr. Firdausi Qadri helped create life-saving and affordable vaccines in Bangladesh. She did so while defying gender norms alongside many institutional limitations.
The Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation is a yearly award established in 1957 by the trustees of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund in New York City. It’s meant to carry on the example former President Ramon Magsaysay left regarding outstanding service and integrity.
Qadri was recognized for her passion and lifetime commitment to science.
She has a vision to build infrastructures meant to benefit future Bangladeshi scientists-especially the women. Her reputation is largely rooted in her work to fight typhoid and cholera, both issues Bangladesh deals with regularly.
More affordable typhoid conjugate vaccines (Vi-TCV) and oral cholera vaccines (OCV) were developed with crucial work from Qadri.
She had a virtual briefing with reporters recently wherein she highlighted the importance of infrastructures for humans and in the technical sense. Additionally, she emphasized just how vital research in health science is. The latter was an obstacle she had to surpass during her early days in science.
“I want it to be bigger in the coming years and self-supporting in the future, less dependent on international funding. It should carry out research at the highest level,” Qadri said, “and have a good number of scientists who will carry out this work. I am looking at that in the future.”
Institutional challenges were also brought up during her interview. While there are many scientists who can take on the job just fine, she stated, there are many limits in terms of opportunities and support.
At present, Qadri leads the Institute for Developing Science and Health Initiatives. They conduct biomedical research, testing, as well as training. It’s a central hub of Bangladesh’s scientific activity.