Professor Sir David Warrell and his wife Mary came to Thailand in 1979 to work with the Faculty of Tropical Medicine, setting up what was then called the ‘Wellcome Unit’. It was his vision and ground-breaking research work that set the tone and direction for the subsequent 40 years of collaborative research in the MORU Network, so all of us owe him an enormous debt of gratitude.
Sir David left Thailand in 1986, and since then he has worked in Africa, Asia, Oceania and Latin America. His research interests over the years include malaria, respiratory diseases, relapsing fever, rabies, malaria, and venomous and poisonous plants and animals.
He published some of the earliest randomised controlled trials of antivenoms, in Nigeria, Thailand, Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia and Papua New Guinea, and was involved in the landmark 2005 “million death study” in India that revealed the enormous burden of snakebite in that country (46,000 deaths a year).
He has in particular continued to work hard to raise the profile of snakebite as an important environmental and occupational health hazard. This culminated in the recognition of snakebite as a category A neglected tropical disease (NTD) by WHO and approval of a resolution by the 2018 World Health Assembly to promote the control of this most neglected of all NTDs.
He has been senior editor of the Oxford Textbook of Medicine, Essential Malariology, and the Oxford Handbook of Expedition and Wilderness Medicine, and has co-authored more than 400 papers on various topics in tropical medicine.
He and Mary have always stayed in touch with the unit they founded, and were here in 2019 to join the MORU 40th anniversary festivities. We very much hope that they will join us here again soon so that we can celebrate David’s knighthood with him in person.
- Nick Day and Nick White.