Profile photo of Rachel Nugent and Patricia Pavlinac with the WGHA Global Health Impact Awards logo
From left to right: WGHA Global Health Impact Award Winners Rachel Nugent and Patricia Pavlinac
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Two University of Washington faculty were awarded top prizes at the inaugural Global Health Impact Awards held virtually on October 14.

Dr. Patricia Pavlinac, UW assistant professor of global health and co-director of the Gut Health and Child Survival scientific priority area of Global WACh, won the Rising Star Award, which recognizes an individual 40 or under who is making an exceptional impact in a global health organization or initiative.

Rachel Nugent, UW affiliate associate professor of global health, and vice president and director for the Center for Global Noncommunicable Diseases at RTI International, was honored with the Luminary Leader Award, awarded to an individual who has demonstrated outstanding leadership and a relentless commitment to the global health community.

“These award winners epitomize the importance and impact of global health innovation, research, and education to address both long-standing health challenges and inequities and immediate crises, such as the current COVID pandemic,” said Maurizio Vecchione, president and CEO of Washington Global Health Alliance (WGHA), the organization that sponsored the awards.

The Global Health Impact Awards were founded to recognize leaders who made significant advancements in the field of global health in 2020. Pavlinac was selected for her research to identify interventions to reduce childhood illness and death caused by diarrhea and intestinal infections, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. She was also recognized for her creativity and initiative in the design and implementation of large studies in Kenya and throughout the world evaluating the benefits and costs of broad-spectrum antibiotic use in children as well as in the prevention of Shigella infections.

“Dr. Pavlinac has rapidly developed a significant international reputation in her field both for high quality rigorous science and for her commitment to highly collaborative research with partners globally. She continues to be successful in designing and implementing research that is directly impacting the lives of vulnerable children globally,” said Judd Walson, UW vice chair of global health.  

Nugent was honored for her four decades of work as a health economics researcher and policy advisor, leading the global narrative that cost-effective policy interventions can reduce noncommunicable diseases (such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes) in low- and middle-income countries, saving millions of lives and trillions in economic productivity. Her economic arguments are compelling governments around the world to create and enforce smart policies to reduce the burden of noncommunicable diseases, which account for over 70% of global deaths but receive just 3% of development assistance for health.

Winners were selected from among 11 finalists by judges on the WGHA Board of Directors. Those finalists included two additional UW faculty and organizations. Connie Celum, UW professor of global health, was nominated for the Luminary Leader Award for her legacy of population impact and leadership of multiple groundbreaking studies that have shaped global HIV prevention and care policy.  Health Alliance International was nominated for the Organizational Impact Award for its support of Ministries of Health and public sector national health services in Mozambique, Timor Leste, and Côte d'Ivoire.

By Amy Frances Goldstein