Dr. Roger Detels, a Distinguished Professor of Epidemiology and Infectious Diseases at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and a member of the UCLA AIDS Institute, has been named a winner of the 2016 Chinese Government Friendship Award.
The Chinese Government Friendship Award is the highest award bestowed by the Chinese Central Government to honor foreign experts who have made significant contributions to China’s economic and social progress. The Chinese government selects 50 recipients from around the world for the prestigious award each year.
Dr. Detels was honored for his more than 30 years of service in the role of training workers under the UCLA/Fogarty AIDS International Research and Training Program, housed at the Fielding School of Public Health. The trainees now play crucial leadership roles in the Chinese public health system. In particular, Dr. Detels’ efforts have contributed toward controlling HIV/AIDS in China.
“I am deeply honored with being selected to receive the Friendship Award by the government of China,” Dr. Detels said. “It has been a joy mentoring my many students from China and working with them to confront the HIV/AIDS epidemic. They make an old professor very happy!”
About 200 candidates were nominated for the extremely competitive award by more than 75 Chinese government ministries, commissions and administrations as well as 31 local, provincial, regional and municipal governments. Detels ranked among the top two in the number of votes he received, and he is the only public health expert in this year’s list of winners.
The UCLA/Fogarty program was launched at the School of Public Health in 1988 to build HIV/AIDS training programs in lower-income countries. Detels was the program’s founding director and still leads it.
Over the years, the Detels-led program has provided education and training leading to a master’s or doctoral degree for more than 100 health professionals from low- and middle-income nations, as well as informal training to countless others. Most of the HIV/AIDS prevention and control programs in China and Southeast Asia have been run by the program’s alumni.
One aspect of the UCLA/Fogarty legacy has been the impact that the trainees and alumni have had in guiding policy in China and Southeast Asia, where governments have been receptive to implementing the results from their research that can lead to policy change in response to HIV and AIDS
Dr. Detels was selected for the Chinese Government Friendship Award because of his long term commitment to controlling HIV/AIDS in China, said Dr. Zunyou Wu, director of the National Center for AIDS/STD Control and Prevention at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
“He has worked with us to confront the HIV epidemic among high risk groups,” added Wu, who was also one of Detels’ early trainees. “As a part of this program, Dr. Detels has trained more than 100 students at UCLA and has trained more than 3,300 short-term trainees in China over the past 30 years.”
Dr. Detels has co-authored more than 100 publications on HIV/AIDS in China that have been published in international journals, Wu noted.