Professor Stephen Hawking honours his father’s work in fighting neglected tropical diseases at Cambridge event

Professor Hawking is presented with a sculpture by Sightsavers CEO, Caroline Harper, of the genetic

Professor Hawking is presented with a sculpture by Sightsavers CEO, Caroline Harper, of the genetic structure of 'Diethylcarbamazine,' a medication his father Frank Hawking helped develop. Photo: Simon Way - Credit: Archant

Professor Stephen Hawking is undoubtedly one of the most recognisable figures today – but this week, his father took centre stage.

Professor Hawking was presented with a sculpture of the genetic structure of Diethylcarbamazine a me

Professor Hawking was presented with a sculpture of the genetic structure of Diethylcarbamazine a medication his father Frank Hawking helped develop. Photo: Simon Way - Credit: Archant

In the 1950s, Dr Frank Hawking was one of the first people to conduct research into treatment for neglected tropical diseases (NTD), which affect one in five people globally.

He developed the drug diethylcarbamazine, which is used to fight the debilitating infections to this day, and yesterday (December 12) an event was held in Cambridge to celebrate the billionth treatment for NTDs.

Professor Hawking was the special guest at charity Sightsavers’ event and paid tribute to his father’s pioneering work.

Professor Hawking, Caroline Harper, chief executive of Sightsavers and Professor Hawkings sister, Ma

Professor Hawking, Caroline Harper, chief executive of Sightsavers and Professor Hawkings sister, Mary Hawking. Photo: Simon Way - Credit: Archant

He said: “Today we are here to celebrate delivering one billion treatments for NTDs - a monumental milestone few health programmes have achieved, both in terms of scale and level of success.


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“Collaboration between partners across the world over the last five years has accelerated us closer to the elimination of NTDs than ever before, making it clear that this is one of the most successful health initiatives of recent times.

“My father’s work into NTDs many years ago highlighted that this is an important area where we must be placing focus.

Professor Stephen Hawking speaks about his fathers role in developing a treatment for elephantiasis,

Professor Stephen Hawking speaks about his fathers role in developing a treatment for elephantiasis, one of several neglected tropical diseases that affect one in five people globally. The event was held at the Moller Centre, Churchill College, Cambridge, this week. Photo: Simon Way - Credit: Archant

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“The fact that these diseases are entirely preventable and treatable means that, in this day and age with the advances in health and science we know only too well, we should really be in a position to be saying goodbye to these horrible diseases of poverty once and for all.

“We are now on the brink of elimination and I must commend the collaborations that have been formed across the world between governments, NGOs, communities and international organisations that have brought us to where we are today.

“This is truly an illustration of what can be achieved when we work together to change lives for the better.”

Professor Stephen Hawking. Photo: Simon Way

Professor Stephen Hawking. Photo: Simon Way - Credit: Archant

Dr Caroline Harper, Sightsavers CEO, said: “Delivering one billion NTD treatments would not have been possible without the support of our many partners around the world - from individual donors, government ministries, trusts and foundations, to corporate partners and fellow NGOs, each and every one of them has helped us make an enormous impact on the people that our programmes reach.

“We must redouble our efforts and at all costs avoid any sense of complacency at this crucial time. Eliminating these diseases once and for all is our goal, but there is still a way to go before we are able to do this.”

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