The Union Medal

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The Union Medal

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The Union Medal

The Union Medal, The Union’s highest honour, is awarded to members who have made an outstanding contribution to the control of tuberculosis or lung health by their scientific work and/or actions in the field. The Medal is presented during the Inaugural session at the Union World Conference on Lung Health.

Nominations are paused for this prize until further notice.


2020: Dr Philip Hopewell (United States of America)

Professor of Medicine, Emeritus, at the University of California, San Francisco. Founder of the Curry International Tuberculosis Center at UCSFFormer President of The Union North American RegionPrevious President of the American Thoracic Society.

2018: Sir Alimuddin Zumla (Zambia)

Professor Sir Alimuddin Zumla received his award via a pre-recorded speech since he was unable to attend in person. Professor Zumla's work has focused on improving global health, with an emphasis on assisting disadvantaged peoples of the world.

Sir Professor Alimuddin Zumla is internationally renowned for his outstanding and extensive research, capacity development, training, advocacy and charitable contributions to the global fight against killer infectious diseases.  Despite contracting life threatening tuberculosis (TB) meningitis while working as a junior doctor in London in 1982, and suffering lifelong crippling neurological sequelae, Sir Zumla progressed to a ‘star-studded career’, making unique and seminal contributions in the fields of infectious diseases and global health, particularly TB, TB/HIV co-infections and emerging respiratory tract infectious diseases with epidemic potential which threaten global health security. 

Sir Zumla has over 650 publications including 14 journal ‘theme’ series on TB and respiratory tract infections, 20 medical textbooks with a global authorship, including the classics: “Tuberculosis - A Comprehensive Clinical Reference”; “Manson’s Tropical Diseases”; and “Granulomatous Disorders”.

As a staunch global advocate for poverty-related diseases, he effectively brings together scientists, politicians, advocates, civil society and charity groups to have a multiplier effect.  Sir Zumla is well known for his motto which states: ‘Everyone should hold hands together and move forward in the fight against infectious diseases’.

2018: Professor Andrew Nunn (UK)

For half a century Professor Andrew Nunn has been at the forefront of research efforts to improve the treatment of tuberculosis (TB). He has played a major role in many of the most important studies that have resulted in better treatments for people infected with TB throughout the world.

Professor Andrew Nunn has been working in clinical trials and epidemiological research since 1966, when he joined the Medical Research Council (MRC) Tuberculosis & Chest Diseases Unit as a Statistician, becoming a Senior Statistician in 1972. Until 1986 he was directly involved in the design, conduct and analysis of the programme of trials which led to the worldwide adoption of short-course chemotherapy for tuberculosis (TB). He then joined the MRC’s Uganda AIDS Programme which researched the dynamics of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemic in a rural African environment. On his return to the UK, he became Head of the Division Without Portfolio within the newly formed MRC Clinical Trials Unit with responsibility for developing trials in neglected areas. Prof Nunn also contributed to research in other areas of respiratory disease from the first trial of inhaled steroids to surveys of asthma deaths.

2016: Prof Lee B Reichman (US)

2015: Prof Denis A Mitchison (UK)

Prof Denis A Mitchison, one of the great pioneers of tuberculosis research was awarded The Union medal in December 2015 in Cape Town, South Africa.Prof Mitchison, who is 96 years old, was unable to travel to South Africa, but provided an acceptance speech on video. 

Denis A Mitchison’s distinguished career in tuberculosis research began with his pioneering studies on anti-tuberculosis chemotherapy more than half a century ago. The author of some 250 scientific papers, he is the recipient of many awards, including the Stop TB Partnership Kochon Prize (2008) and the British Thoracic Society Medal (2000). He also received the Medal of Honour from The Union in 1987 and holds an Honorary lifelong membership

After his medical training, Prof Mitchison completed postgraduate studies in pathology. In 1947, he began studies on streptomycin at Brompton Hospital as one of three people on the original bacteriological committee. In 1956 he was appointed director of the Medical Research Council Unit for Research on Drug Sensitivity in Tuberculosis at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School in Hammersmith (now Imperial College). In that role he was responsible for the design of groundbreaking randomised trials in Madras, India comparing inpatient and outpatient treatment of TB – the first major studies of home care.

In 1985 Dr Mitchison retired from his position but not from science. He continued his work at Hammersmith for four years before moving to Saint George’s, University of London, where he has continued an active career in tuberculosis research well into his 90s.

2014: Prof Jacques Grosset (France)

Prof Jacques Grosset has been conducting research on tuberculosis and mycobacterial infections for the past 60 years.  His contributions have helped shape the modern treatment of tuberculosis, leprosy, M. avium-complex disease, Buruli ulcer (M. ulcerans), M. xenopii and other infections.  He has developed the animal models to evaluate new drugs and regimens for all of these conditions, and has been involved in evaluating almost every new drug for mycobacterial infections in the past 50 years. Along with Denis Mitchison and Wallace Fox, he is substantially responsible for the modern chemotherapy of tuberculosis. Because of his work, treatment is shorter, safer, and new drugs and drug combinations have entered the marketplace.  

In addition, Prof Grosset has translated the scientific output of his laboratory and of others by shaping policy for the control of TB and leprosy, most notably by leading the World Health Organization committees overseeing global leprosy and TB control for more than a dozen years. 

Prof Grosset is himself a TB survivor, and he has lived several lives.  After a long career in Paris with the Pasteur Institute, instead of retiring, he moved to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. When asked to help start the KRITH program in Durban, he again moved his life and started over in South Africa. 

The author of more than 300 published papers, Prof Grosset has remained active in his 80s, having recently received an NIH grant to study clofazimine for the treatment of drug-susceptible TB.  He also continues to mentor young investigators in South Africa and the United States.

Prof Grosset is an indefatigable opponent of TB, leprosy and stigmatising diseases of the poor, who has devoted his long and productive professional life to reducing the burden of mycobacterial diseases.  The combination of his scientific contributions and his policy achievements make him the ideal candidate to receive The Union Medal in 2014, shortly following his 85th birthday.

2013: Prof Donald A Enarson (Canada)

Prof Donald A Enarson, who served as The Union’s Director of Scientific Activities from 1991 to 2009, received The Union Medal in recognition of his central role in overseeing the expansion of The Union’s TB technical assistance, education and research activities to include other major public health challenges, including HIV, tobacco control, asthma, and child lung health. Under his leadership, The Union TB clinical trials Study A and Study C were completed, and he fostered the growth of operational research as a means of finding local solutions to local problems.

One of the most distinguished researchers and consultants in the field of lung health over the past several decades, Prof Enarson continues to serve as Adjunct Professor, Department of Medicine at the University of Alberta. He is also editor of The Union’s, Public Health Action, and has served as Associate Editor of the IJTLD since 1997.

He has published more than 20 books on issues such as tuberculosis, lung cancer and asthma, as well as hundreds of chapters and articles. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada; a Member through Distinction of the Faculty of Public Health Medicine, Royal Colleges of Physicians, UK; and a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh.

2011: Prof John F Murray (USA)

Prof John F Murray (USA) received his undergraduate education and medical training at Stanford University. He is a Diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine and holds Subspecialty Board Certification in Pulmonary Disease. His postdoctoral training was at San Francisco General, King’s County Hospital in Brooklyn, New York, and in the UK.

Prof Murray’s academic career has spanned some 50 years with faculty positions at the University of California from 1957 to1994, as well as visiting professorships. He has received numerous awards and holds honorary doctor of science degrees from the University of Paris VII and the University of Athens.

Prof Murray served as editor for several editions of such essential resources as the Cecil Textbook of Medicine and the Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. He has published hundreds of papers, chapters and books. He served as associate editor of the IUAT Bulletin (1979-1991), Tubercle and Lung Disease (1991-1996), and, since 1997, he has served the IJTLD. In addition he chaired The Union’s Committee on Respiratory Disease (1986-1988), Scientific Committee (1991-92); and Executive Committee and Council (1992-1994).

A well-known figure around The Union’s Paris headquarters, “John”, as he is familiarly known, is an essential part of The Union’s history and present – shaping its values, goals and achievements.

2006: Prof Margaret Becklake (Canada)

2005: Sir John Crofton (UK)

2005: Prof Neil Walton White (South Africa) – Special Medal (posthumous)

2004: Dr Jacob Kumaresan (India)

2004: The American Lung Association (USA)

2002: The Rt Hon Susan Whelan (Canada)

2002: Dr Arata Kochi (Japan)

1998: Prof Jacques Chrétien (F2010: Prof Peter Donald (South Africa)rance)

1998: Dr Knut Ovreberg (Norway)