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Dr Bipin Adhikari, Research Physician in Social Sciences and Infectious Diseases at NDM’s Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit, has recently received the ‘2023 Emerging Leaders Award’ from the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in recognition of his leadership, service and significant contributions to the fields of tropical medicine and global health.

Image: From left to right: Phaik Yeong Cheah, Dr Bipin Adhikari, and Rupam Tripura in Siem Pang, Cambodia

Born and raised in rural Nepal on the foothills of the Himalayas, Bipin Adhikari, 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 a 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 at a study site In eastern Savannakhet, Cambodia, near the Laos and Viet Nam, border, an area particularly hard hit by the Viet Nam War.

Dr Adhikari 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 the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020, he immediately recognized that the uptake and hence the public health impact of interventions like masks and mass vaccination campaigns would be seriously undermined in the absence of trust in public health recommendations, and shared these insights in a series of publications.

Dr Adhikari has published more than 50 papers in the last five years. His 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’.

Dr Adhikari was presented with the award at the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene at the annual general meeting at Conway Hall, London, UK.