Dr Rita Colwell, 76, a professor from the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health in the United States, has been recognised for her "exceptional contributions" to control the spread of the waterborne pathogen, cholera, which has been estimated to cause 120,000 deaths each year.
The Stockholm Water Prize Nominating Committee's citation said: "Dr Rita Colwell’s numerous seminal contributions towards solving the world’s water and water-related public health problems, particularly her work to prevent the spread of cholera, is of utmost global importance.
"Through her research on its physiology, ecology, and metabolism, Dr Colwell advanced the fields of mathematics, genetics and remote sensing technology and not only as they relate to these bacteria but to the prevention other diseases in many developing countries."
Among a lifetime of achievements, research and groundbreaking studies, Dr Colwell developed the first model that applied remote satellite imaging to track and predict outbreaks of cholera before they occur. This model is said to have become the archetype for infectious disease monitoring and prevention used around the world.
Born in Massachusetts in the United States in 1934, she has authored or co-authored 17 books and more than 700 scientific publications. Dr Colwell has held many advisory positions in the U.S. government, in non-profit science-policy organisations, within private foundations, in the international scientific research community. She was appointed by President Bill Clinton as the first woman to serve as director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) from 1998 to 2004.
Dr Colwell will be presented the 2010 Stockholm Water Prize at a Royal Award Ceremony in Stockholm City Hall on September 9 during the 2010 World Water Week in Stockholm, which marks the 20th anniversary of the prize and event.