Pioneering UQ student receives esteemed Rolex award

18 Nov 2014

A commitment to protecting the world from the threat of antibiotic-resistant bacteria has led to a University of Queensland student receiving a Rolex Award for Enterprise.

Mr Hosam Zowawi, a PhD student at the UQ Centre for Clinical Research, received one of the five Young Laureates of Rolex awards at a ceremony held at London’s Royal Society.

Designed to celebrate enterprising individuals, the Rolex awards recognise those who take on major global challenges to improve lives or protect the planet.

Mr Zowawi said receiving such a world-class award was a privilege and he acknowledged his colleagues who have been involved in his work to combat superbugs.

“I hope this award will also draw attention to the global and urgent action needed to prevent the emergence of superbugs,” Mr Zowawi said.

Rolex’s head of philanthropy, Rebecca Irvin, said the Young Laureates were part of a new generation of young innovators who were single-minded in their attempt to change and contribute to the world and the welfare of their fellow human beings.

“In particular, they are deeply involved in the concerns of their countries, trailblazing in a remarkable way and using technology to achieve their aims,” Ms Irvin said.

Under the guidance of the UQ Centre for Clinical Research’s renowned international infectious diseases expert Professor David Paterson, Mr Zowawi created a diagnostic tool that could rapidly identify superbugs.

The tool allows more patients to be treated quickly with the right antibiotics and minimises opportunities for the deadly bugs to spread throughout the population.

Mr Zowawi, from Saudi Arabia, has also made headway in raising awareness of antibiotic resistance in the Middle Eastern Gulf States through a creative communication campaign.

“It is important for people beyond the scientific community to understand that the correct use of antibiotics will help to prevent the emergence of antibiotic resistant superbugs,” he said.

Mr Zowawi received a Rolex chronometer, 50,000 Swiss francs (A$59,000) to further his work and an official certificate at the gala ceremony.

Time magazine has also named Mr Zowawi one of the world's Next Generation Leaders.

Saudi Ambassador to London, Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf, said Mr Zowawi’s award underscored the international significance of his research.

“Hosam’s pivotal work and exciting and inspiring progress in the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria is of importance not just to King Saud Bin Abdulaziz University for Health Science and The University of Queensland,’’ Prince Mohammed said.

“This research is vital in a health area of unmet need across the world and the award reflects strongly on the talent nurtured at his alma mater in Saudi Arabia and the focus given to it in Queensland.”

Media: Kate Sullivan, Marketing Communications Officer, UQ Centre for Clinical Research
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