Gary Weil, MD, a professor of medicine and of molecular microbiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, received the 2023 Kyelem Prize at the Coalition for Operational Research on Neglected Tropical Diseases’ annual meeting in Chicago. The prize is awarded to an individual who has made significant and unique contributions to efforts to control and eliminate neglected tropical diseases.
Weil leads the Death to Onchocerciasis and Lymphatic Filariasis (DOLF) Project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The DOLF program does research in support of global efforts to eliminate parasitic worm diseases as public health problems, most importantly onchocerciasis, also known as river blindness; and lymphatic filariasis, also known as elephantiasis. Both infections are transmitted by biting insects. Onchocerciasis causes severe chronic skin disease and blindness, and lymphatic filariasis causes disabling swelling in the legs.
Weil’s research has improved diagnosis and treatment of lymphatic filariasis and other parasitic worm diseases, resulting in better health outcomes for millions. He contributed to the development of a diagnostic test that has become a critical component of the global program to eliminate lymphatic filariasis. His research on the effectiveness of a triple-drug therapy for lymphatic filariasis elimination led the World Health Organization to recommend changes to standard drug regimens. Those changes have improved global control of the disease. He continues to work on optimizing the triple-drug regimen for places where co-infection with multiple species of parasitic worms is common.