Bird flu expert receives a high award from China

Dr  Khan China award
Professor Mazhar Khan receives the Republic of China Friendship Award from Vice Premier Ma Kai. (Photo courtesy of the State Administration of Foreign Expert Affairs of China)

Mazhar Khan, Professor in the Department of Pathobiology and Veterinary Science, received the Friendship Award, an annual commendation issued by the Chinese government to honor those who contribute to China’s development and construction. China’s Vice Premier Ma Kai presented Khan’s medal and plaque in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People on September 30 on the eve National Day, which is October 1.

Khan’s achievements in avian influenza (bird flu) research got him this award, the Chinese government’s highest honor for outstanding foreign experts. Khan, who develops DNA-based diagnostic tests for the detection of animal diseases and vaccines for avian influenza, collaborated with Chinese scientists. They used surveillance of wild birds in southern China to detect avian influenza viruses. If disease is determined more quickly, the resulting control program can be more effective, according to Khan.

This work benefits humans, as well. The World Health Organization’s website, says that influenza viruses circulating in animals pose threats to human health when people have direct or indirect exposure to infected live or dead animals or contaminated environments.

Khan said, “Receiving the Chinese Government Friendship Award in the Great Hall of the People of China was an honor for me, as well as for the Directors of Guangxi Veterinary Research Institute and Guangxi Bureau of Agriculture in Nanning.”

While in China, Khan met prominent dignitaries, such as Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, and participated in National Day festivities. Fifty foreign experts from twenty countries received the award this year. The Friendship Award, resumed in 1991, recognizes outstanding work in China in the fields of economy, technology, education and culture, as well as personnel cultivation.

By Patsy Evans