Young ‘superbugs’ innovator receives prestigious Rolex Laureate

25 Jun 2014

A University of Queensland student has taken out the prestigious Rolex Laureate Award for Enterprise for his innovative work to protect human health from the threat of antibiotic resistant superbugs.

Mr Hosam Zowawi, a PhD student at the UQ Centre for Clinical Research (UQCCR) is one of five Young Laureates to win the prize, which is designed to celebrate enterprising individuals who take on major global challenges to improve lives or protect the planet.

The bright young student underwent a stringent selection process to receive the award, with an international jury of independent experts; including prominent scientists, environmentalists and entrepreneurs; selecting him from a pool of more than 1,800 applicants from around the world.

Mr Zowawi said he was honoured to be the recipient of the world-class award and hoped it would highlight the global and urgent action needed to reduce the threat of antibiotic resistant bacteria (superbugs).

“My receipt of this award recognises the efforts of a team of outstanding men and women who have also been involved in my work relating to antibiotic resistant superbugs; including mentors, collaborators and volunteers,” he said.

Under the guidance of UQCCR’s renowned international infectious diseases expert Professor David Paterson, Mr Zowawi created a diagnostic tool that can 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 has also made headway in raising awareness of antibiotic resistance in the Middle Eastern Gulf States through a creative educational campaign.

“It is important for people beyond the scientific community to know about our research and understand that the correct use of antibiotics will help to prevent the emergence of antibiotic resistant superbugs,” Mr Zowawi said.

“Together, we can prevent the world from heading towards a post-antibiotic era where common infections and minor injuries, which have been treatable for decades, can once again kill.”

Mr Zowawi’s achievement was announced at a press conference at the Royal Society in London on June 24.

He will receive the award and 50,000 Swiss francs (A$59,000) to further his work, at a gala ceremony which will be held in London in November this year.

Rolex Laureate Award for Enterprise recipients are recognised for pioneering work in areas of science and health, applied technology, exploration and discovery, environment, and cultural heritage.

Media: Kate Sullivan, Marketing Communications Officer, UQ Centre for Clinical Research  (07) 3346 6041, 0421 819 807 or