John Nkengasong awarded the international 2022 Virchow Prize for Global Health



© Michael Tewelde

Virchow Prize Committee has selected the inaugural laureate. The first Virchow Prize, held under the High Patronage of the German Federal President, is endowed with €500,000.

Berlin, September 12, 2022 – Following a nomination phase and thorough selection process, the Virchow Prize Committee has reached a decision to award the 2022 Virchow Prize for Global Health to John N. Nkengasong.

The Virchow Prize for Global Health is a prestigious, international award which honours laureates for their lifetime achievements towards health for all. Most importantly, these accomplishments must align and uphold the United Nations 2030 Agenda Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).

Born in Cameroon, Nkengasong has over thirty years of experience in global health. He began his academic career at the University of Yaoundé studying Virology. In Belgium, he then received his M.Sc. from the Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp and his PhD from the Faculty of Medicine, University of Brussels, where his doctoral research in virology was the first to characterise all genetic subtypes of HIV in Africa. He also received a Diploma in Leadership and Management from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

John N. Nkengasong continued his impressive career as Chief of Virology at the World Health Organization (WHO) and subsequently as the Acting Deputy Director at the Centre for Global Health, U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Nkengasong then served as the Founding Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC). In June 2022, he was confirmed as the US Coordinator of the Global AIDS Response and Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy at the US Department of State – the first person of African origin to hold this position.

The Virchow Prize Committee affirms that John N. Nkengasong has unparalleled commitment to addressing complex global health challenges and making healthcare accessible to world’s most vulnerable. Through his various leadership roles, he has developed systemic and holistic approaches which have fundamentally shaped the global health landscape, mobilising efforts towards the attainment of the UN SDGs and “health and wellbeing for all”.

“John Nkengasong made the dream of a safer and fairer African continent within reach through his strikingly impressive acts of fervour and courage during the most formidable era of devastations caused by COVID-19. Despite the constraints, he fostered innovative capacities and technical capabilities in the region and beyond” says Dr Precious Matsoso, Virchow Prize Committee Member and Former Director General, Department of Health of South Africa.

“Dr Nkengasong has transformed disease surveillance and outbreak control for the African continent, exemplified during the exigency of the COVID-19 pandemic. His work has inspired and will have saved millions of lives” says Professor Gabriel Leung, Virchow Prize Committee Member and Former Dean of Medicine, University of Hong Kong.

“He has been a leader in public health for decades. From early in the HIV pandemic to his outstanding leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic as Director of the Africa CDC. Dr Nkengasong has been the voice, but also the action of the vulnerable population in Africa – and globally. An example of leadership in global health, coming from a low-and-middle income country with significant contributions” praises Professor Patricia J Garcia, Virchow Prize Committee Member and Professor of Public Health, Cayetano Heredia University, Peru.

The Virchow Prize for Global Health Award Ceremony, celebrating John N. Nkengasong as 2022 laureate, is held under the High Patronage of German Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and will take place on October 15, 2022 at 18:00 CET in Berlin. Further information on the ceremony and how to register can be found at:

About the Virchow Foundation for Global Health

The Virchow Foundation for Global Health aims to raise awareness of the importance of this task by establishing the annual Virchow Prize for Global Health. Commitment and contributions are honoured that have an innovative, long-term, and sustainable impact on the landscape of global health. The non-profit foundation, based in Berlin and Münster, was established out of civil society commitment with the support of the National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities and leading experts to contribute as an international platform to improve health worldwide.

Further information:


Virchow Foundation for Global Health
c/o Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities
Jägerstr. 22/23
DE-10117 Berlin, Germany