Dr Caroline Harper, Sightsavers CEO, announced as first winner of Hemingway Award

25 Nov 2019
Dr Caroline Harper, Sightsavers Chief Executive

Dr Caroline Harper, the Chief Executive of UK-based NGO Sightsavers, has been selected by the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (RSTMH) and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) as the winner of the first Hemingway Award.

The Award was launched in October 2018 to coincide with celebrations of Professor Janet Hemingway’s outstanding career and achievements, as she stepped down as LSTM Director.

It recognises Professor Hemingway’s achievements in delivering and encouraging translational science and securing funding for translational studies and programmes during her leadership of LSTM and is awarded to Dr Harper for her work transforming the funding landscape for trachoma.

In recognition of translational science

The Hemingway Award is a joint award between RSTMH and LSTM, which will be presented annually with a cash prize of £5,000.

Tamar Ghosh, RSTMH Chief Executive says:

“I'm thrilled that we're awarding the first Hemingway Award to Dr Caroline Harper, recognising the huge importance of translational science.

“The Hemingway Award further consolidates the relationship between RSTMH and LSTM and recognises the long and productive links between the two organisations.

“The Award is a wonderful celebration of Professor Janet Hemingway’s work and dedication to translational science throughout her career.”

Transforming the trachoma funding landscape

Dr Caroline Harper has been Chief Executive of Sightsavers since 2005.

She started her career in the gas business, having worked for British Gas. She then set up her own company focusing on the turnaround and sale of energy companies.

Travel and her family’s experiences of blindness led her to a career change to international development and eventually Sightsavers. In 2015 she received a CBE for services to people with visual impairments.

Under her leadership, Sightsavers has expanded significantly. The global organisation treats millions of people and advocates for policy reforms around the world. Indeed, thanks to the work of Dr Harper and Sightsavers, the field of trachoma is unrecognisable.

She has been instrumental in developing the partnerships that funded the Global Trachoma Mapping Project, and she has subsequently secured more than £150 million to end the risk of trachoma blindness in Africa.

Wonderful to see interest in elimination trachoma

On receiving the award, Dr Harper said:

“I am honoured to be the first recipient of the Hemingway Award, which celebrates the huge contribution of Professor Janet Hemingway.

“It is certainly wonderful to see how we now have a range of donors interested in driving trachoma through to elimination, and seeing the programmes scale up in country has been incredible.

“Obviously, I only played one part in this. There are so many people within Sightsavers and other organisations (including WHO) who have played indispensable roles. I must of course thank the donors, both those who have been contributing for many years and those who have come in more recently, without whom trachoma would still be rampant, causing untold suffering, particularly across Africa.”

Instrumental in turning Sightsavers into a global force

Professor Hemingway said: “I am delighted that Caroline is the first recipient of the new Hemingway award. She has been instrumental in turning Sightsavers into a global force, building collaborative efforts to reduce trachoma and having a significant impact on health in the tropics.”

Dr Harper will receive the award at a ceremony held in the UK, early next year.

Nominations for the 2020 Hemingway Award will also open again next year.

Medals and awards