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Dr. Zulfiqar Bhutta honoured with esteemed 2023 Henry G. Friesen International Prize in Health Research
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Dr. Zulfiqar Bhutta honoured with esteemed 2023 Henry G. Friesen International Prize in Health Research


The award recognizes Bhutta’s leadership, vision, and innovation in global child and maternal health research and policy.

World-renowned expert in the field of global maternal and child health research and public policy Dr. Zulfiqar Bhutta, Co-Director of the Centre for Global Child Health at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), has been awarded the 2023 Henry G. Friesen International Prize in Health Research.

Dr. Zulfiqar Bhutta

“Dr. Bhutta's dedication to advancing global maternal and child health through his research, leadership, and advocacy work is truly commendable and his contributions continue to make a lasting impact on the lives of children and families around the world,” says Dr. Stanley Zlotkin, Chief of the SickKids Centre for Global Child Health.

This distinguished annual award established by the Friends of Canadian Institutes of Health Research (FCIHR) in 2005 recognizes leadership, vision, and innovation in health research and policy. It is one of the most esteemed awards of its kind in Canada, with previous winners including Nobel Prize winner Sir Paul Nurse (2015), Dr. Shirley Tilghman (2010) and Nobel Prize winner Dr. Harold Varmus (2008).

“I am truly humbled by the Friesen prize as I follow in the wake of many giants in the field of science and research. Our work has focused on the marginalized populations of women and children — often living in enormously disadvantaged circumstances such as conflict and natural disasters — and in finding innovative solutions and we are grateful to the CIHR Foundation for the recognition that this ‘science’ too, moves mountains,” says Bhutta, who is also a Senior Scientist in the Child Health Evaluative Sciences program and the Executive Director of the NCD Child Secretariat based at the SickKids Centre for Global Child Health.

Inspirational impact in maternal and child global health research

“This award reinforces the importance of global health, especially the health of the most vulnerable populations.”

Throughout the last three decades Bhutta, who was previously awarded the 2021 Roux Prize and the 2022 John Dirks Canada Gairdner Global Health award, has led research in many regions including Pakistan, South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa with the goal of reducing child mortality rates globally and informing innovative solutions to maternal and child health challenges.

Some of his most influential research areas include the first “thousand days of life” (the relationship between conflict and adversity with reproductive, maternal and child health) and nutrition, child survival and early childhood development, which have been translated into numerous real-world impacts and shaped global health policy. Community-based interventions, international guidelines, and changes to public health policies and outreach programs for marginalized populations are just a few of the ways Bhutta’s research has been implemented through in regions all over the world.

Bhutta's many contributions to the field of global maternal and child health are widely recognized. In addition to receiving a Canada 150 Medal from the Senate of Canada for his exceptional contributions to global child health, Bhutta is regularly consulted by the high-level UN Health and Human Rights Committee, World Health Organization, and the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH).

“We congratulate Dr. Bhutta on this well-deserved recognition of his outstanding contributions to health research and policy and look forward to his continued work in improving the health and well-being of vulnerable populations, both locally and globally,” says Dr. Stephen Scherer, Chief of Research at SickKids.

Award an important milestone to inspire more global research

Bhutta hopes that winning the 2023 Henry G. Friesen International Prize in Health Research will help to shine a greater light on the problems faced by women and children globally, often under enormously disadvantaged conditions, and encourage more young researchers to explore global health opportunities.

“These global health opportunities that clearly help marginalized communities in low- and middle-income countries also have tremendous potential to help people in high-income settings through participatory learning, and one such opportunity now presents itself at the interface of climate change and maternal and child health” says Bhutta, who also acknowledged teams across continents who have contributed to his work.

“The scores of young researchers and health professionals who have, at various stages of their career, supported my maternal health and health equity research efforts now serve as beacons of light themselves in the field of global health. I couldn’t be more proud of their work and contributions.”

– Dr. Zulfiqar Bhutta

Ranked among the global top one per cent of 100 Highly Cited Researchers list, Bhutta also holds the Distinguished University Professor and Founding Director positions at the Institute for Global Health and Development and the Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health at the Aga Khan University, and the Robert Harding Inaugural Chair in Global Child Health at SickKids.

Bhutta will be delivering a series of public talks in conjunction with the Friesen Prize later this year, providing an opportunity for staff across SickKids and the wider community to celebrate his well-deserved recognition.

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