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On 28 Sept, MORU Malaria Clinical Researcher Bipin Adhikari received a 2023 Emerging Leaders Award from the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (RSTMH) to recognise his significant contributions in leadership and service, including mentoring and capacity building, to the fields of tropical medicine and global health.

Bipin Adhikari, PhaikYeong Chead and Rupam Tripura

Born and raised in rural Nepal on the foothills of the Himalayas, Bipin (centre, shown with Phaik Yeong Cheah, left, and Rupam Tripura in Siem Pang, Cambodia) studied medicine in Henan, China and then worked for 3 years at the Trichandra Military Hospital in Kathmandu.

From 2011-2013, Bipin earned a Professional Diploma in Tropical Medicine & Hygiene (DTMH) and then an MSc in clinical tropical medicine from Mahidol University, Thailand. The next year, Bipin worked in an Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) camp in South Sudan, then with the Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU) on a mass antimalarial drug administration (MDA) project where he lived in a study site In eastern Savannakhet, Cambodia, near the Laos and Viet Nam, border, an area particularly hard hit by the Viet Nam War.

Bipin worked on community engagement with the target population to maximise the uptake and hence the coverage of the MDA. He found that while gaining trust is key, that is not an easy task if you are seen as a ’foreign body’. Bipin wrote a series of reports about this experience and received an Oxford DPhil for his work.

When COVID started in 2020, Bipin immediately recognized that the uptake and hence the public health impact of interventions like masks and mass vaccinations campaigns would be seriously undermined in the absence of trust in public health recommendations, and shared these insights in a series of publications.

Bipin has published more than 50 papers in the last five years. His most recent publication, Vaccine mandates and public trust do not have to be antagonistic, is co-authored with Heidi Larson, the international leader in the field of ‘antivaxxers’.

Bipin was presented with the award at the RSTMH’s AGM at Conway Hall, London, UK.