The John Dirks Canada Gairdner Global Health Award recognises the world’s top scientists who have made outstanding achievements in Global Health Research. Cesar received the award for his work on maternal and child health in developing countries. Former Gairdner Global Health Award laureates from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine include Professor Peter Piot who received the award in 2015 for his work on the Ebola virus, his contributions to HIV/AIDS research, and his leadership during the HIV/AIDS epidemic; and Professor Sir Brian Greenwood who received the award in 2012 for his work on malaria, meningitis and pneumonia.
Cesar studied for a PhD in Health Care Epidemiology at LSHTM from 1980 to 1983; he chose to study at the School as he saw the potential to adapt British epidemiology to the research conditions in Brazil. “My studies at the School provided me with a solid background in research methods and statistics, and allowed me start my research career upon my return to Brazil in 1983.”
While studying at the School, Cesar formed good relationships with members of LSHTM staff who contributed to his career as an epidemiologist. “I am deeply thankful to Professor Patrick Vaughan who not only supervised me during my doctorate but also helped me get the research grants that allowed me to pursue my research career upon my return to Brazil. Without his support during and after my PhD, I might well have opted not to return to my home country. I am also thankful to Professor Peter Smith who taught me about case-control studies and was a joint PI on my research on breastfeeding in the 1980s. Betty Kirkwood was also, and continues to be, a great friend and teacher.”
Cesar told us that he was greatly surprised to win the 2017 Gairdner Global Health Award. “I know that the competition must have been fierce, just look at the last two winners of the award – Anthony Fauci and Peter Piot. I am particularly happy to be the first winner whose career was fully based in the South.”
Professor Piot, Director of the School said “Cesar personifies what our School stands for: excellence in everything he does, and a total commitment to health equity. We are very proud his lifelong efforts were recognised by the prestigious Gairdner Award.”
Cesar is currently an Emeritus Professor at the Federal University of Pelotas. “As I move towards the end of my career, I am more and more interested in disseminating research that makes a difference, that is, of translating good science into policy and implementation. Epidemiology has a lot to contribute towards improving global health!”
Cesar’s advice for current students is that “research requires good ideas, but the most important things are rigor and persistence. Things don’t always work out well when you first try them, papers are rejected and grant applications are not funded. A strong commitment to improving the health of people is essential for overcoming such drawbacks.”
Cesar ended by saying “my three years at LSHTM were absolutely essential for my formation. I will always be grateful to my teachers and fellow students.”
Congratulations Cesar on your award, we are proud to have you as part of our alumni community!