Manhattan, Kansas, USA: Deborah Briggs, a founding member of the Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC), was today announced as a Purpose Prize Fellow. This year’s Purpose Prize Fellows were selected from over 800 nominees and are finalists for the prestigious Purpose Prize, which awards 5 recipients $100,000.00 in recognition of their efforts in social entrepreneurship.
Dr Briggs, Executive Director of GARC, was recognised for her continuing work in fighting the scourge of rabies worldwide. Rabies is the most lethal of all infectious diseases and kills one person every ten minutes, yet it is also 100% preventable. Dr Briggs and GARC work around the world to educate local communities, empower them to take responsibility for rabies prevention and bring together experts to share knowledge and advance our understanding of this overlooked and much misunderstood disease.
Dr Briggs is acknowledged as a global expert on rabies, having worked on the disease with both the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in the USA and the World Health Organization. In response to what she saw as a pressing need for a dramatic change in the approach to rabies education and prevention, in 2006 she left her position at the CDC to establish GARC. “It seemed to me that there were many challenges to be overcome in the fight against rabies and that the best way to overcome these was to use my years of experience to bring people together and work directly with the communities affected,” said Dr Briggs. “The years since have demonstrated the power of this approach, perhaps most effectively in our work on the island of Bohol in the Phillipines. This island of more than a million people used to have a significant rate of rabies deaths, but after just three years of working with the community we have been able to eliminate rabies in the dogs of Bohol, dramatically changing the life chances for the whole population.”
The Purpose Prize was established by Encore.org to raise awareness of the impact of those over 60 who have dedicated the second half of their life to making a positive impact on society. “Purpose Prize fellows are using their passion and experience to help solve some of society’s steepest challenges,” said Marc Freedman, founder and CEO of Encore.org and author of The Big Shift. “They represent a growing wave of people in their 60s and beyond who are using their knowhow to change the world, while shifting perceptions of what is possible in this stage of life.”
Dr Briggs spoke of her feelings on becoming a Purpose Prize Fellow, “I am delighted and proud to have received this prestigious accolade, not just personally, but in recognition of the incredibly important work done by everyone involved in GARC. I hope that it will help to raise awareness of the need for this vital work to continue, and hope that it might also inspire other scientists in the second half of their careers to use their years of experience to help change the world for the better in whichever way they can.”