Award of John Holt Medal marks distinguished career of Dr. Adrian Hopkins
On 6 May 2010, Dr. Adrian Hopkins received the John Holt Medal, an honor awarded to distinguished alumni of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine’s (LSTM) Diploma in Tropical Medicine & Hygiene. Dr. Hopkins’ distinguished career has taken him from a Mission Society in Zaire to the Directorship of the Mectizan Donation Program. Last night in Liverpool following a talk on river blindness control, Dr. Hopkins was awarded the distinguished medal for his work on river blindness.
Dr. Hopkins graduated from St. Andrew’s University in 1971, then began training in the UK through internships and residencies to prepare for work in rural Africa. In 1975, Adrian began studying tropical medicine at LSTM to further prepare for his life in Africa where he would spend the next 34 years.
His first post was as a Medical Officer with the Baptist Missionary Society in Zaire in 1974. He was primarily based at a mission hospital in Pimu, a remote village in tropical rainforest with a population of 150,000. Pimu was once described as “too rural” for the Rural Health Programme by USAID consultants. In addition to his medical expertise, Dr. Hopkins also mastered skills as a mechanic and engineer to maintain the basic services to keep the hospital running.
During his time in Pimu, Dr. Hopkins developed an interest in ophthalmology. His interest grew when an airstrip was built in the region that opened possibilities for outreach surgical services for an area in rural Africa almost as large as England.
In 1992 Dr. Hopkins joined the Christian Blind Mission based in the Central African Republic (CAR) with whom he worked until 2007. Initially he was the Technical Advisor to the Ministry of Health to set up the “National Programme for Onchocerciasis Control and Blindness Prevention.” The Technical Advisor’s role was to plan and manage the National Programme, which Dr. Hopkins did despite the ongoing civil war and political instability. Under Dr. Hopkins’ leadership, between 1996 and 1999, Mectizan treatment for river blindness in CAR scaled up to almost 1 million people. When the programme had a solid foundation, Dr. Hopkins handed the role over to a National Director in 1999.
In 2008, Dr. Hopkins joined the Mectizan Donation Program based in Atlanta, USA as director. This is a perfect role for him as it enables him to interact with policymakers and apply his vast amount of field experience to help develop strategies for the control of Neglected Tropical Diseases. The role also provides him with the opportunity to keep in close contact with his network in Africa. Dr. Hopkins continues his collaboration with LSTM via his links with the Centre for Neglected Tropical Diseases (CNTD).
The John Holt Medal
The John Holt Medal is named after the Merchant Shipowner from Liverpool who traded widely with West Africa. In the late 19th century Holt and his contemporaries campaigned for the setting up of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine at a time when hospital wards in Liverpool were seeing increasing numbers of seamen with tropical disease, due to increased trade between Liverpool and Africa. In honour of his support LSTM introduced the John Holt Medal, awarded to distinguished alumni of Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine’s (LSTM) Diploma in Tropical Medicine & Hygiene.
The Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) has been engaged in the fight against infectious, debilitating and disabling diseases for more than a hundred years and continues that tradition today with a research portfolio in excess of £145 million and a teaching programme attracting students from over 70 countries.