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Dr. Karin Nielsen wins prestigious Brazilian prize in health sciences

Dr. Karin Nielsen, a leading specialist in the prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission and director of the Center for Brazilian Studies, has won the Brazilian Diaspora Award in health sciences.

Dr. Karin Nielsen wins prestigious Brazilian prize in health sciences

Dr. Karin Nielsen. (Photo: Peggy McInerny/ UCLA.)

By Peggy McInerny, Director of Communications

UCLA International Institute, May 15, 2015 — Dr. Karin Nielsen, director of the UCLA Center for Brazilian Studies, has been awarded the 2014 Brazilian Diaspora Award (Prêmio Diáspora Brasil) for her “inspiring work as a Brazilian abroad.” The award specifically recognizes leading Brazilian professionals living abroad and invites their input into Brazilian public policy in their areas of expertise.

A professor of pediatric infectious diseases at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA since 1996 and a working doctor at the UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center, Nielsen is only one of three winners of the prize — taking the top honor in the health sciences category.

The Diaspora Award is conferred on Brazilians living abroad in recognition of their ability to inspire new generations of Brazilians in the areas of health sciences, computer sciences and technology, and business. Awardees include professionals in both academia and private enterprise. Jointly supported by the Office of the President of Brazil and the Brazilian ministries of foreign affairs, education and development, the Prêmio Diáspora Brasil is the most distinguished honor bestowed on Brazilians living in the diaspora.

A graduate of the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, where she earned a master’s degree while completing a five-year clinical research and virology fellowship in pediatric infectious diseases at the Geffen School, Nielsen has conducted collaborative research in Brazil and Mozambique that has changed HIV standards of care worldwide. Specifically, she has developed or assisted in the development of seven NIH protocols to prevent mother-to-child transmission of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).

As director of the Center for Brazilian Studies, Nielsen has been actively involved in greatly increasing the number of Brazilian students attending UCLA, particularly in the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering and medicine), through the Scientific Mobility Program of the Brazilian government and the Jorge Paulo Lemann Scholarship and Fellowship Program at UCLA. 

Winners in the three categories of the Diaspora Award are nominated by their peers living abroad and then selected by a committee comprised of distinguished academic and business leaders. Dr. Nielsen was nominated for the honor by a Brazilian scientist living in the United States.

As an award recipient, Nielsen has been invited to join the Diaspora Network, a group of Brazilian individuals living abroad known for their skills and innovation who meet periodically to influence Brazilian public policy in the areas of their respective expertise.

She travels to Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, in late May to attend award-related events from May 25 through May 29. Among other activities, Nielsen will personally meet President Dilma Rousseff in her office, as well as the Brazilian ministers of development, foreign affairs and education. She will also give lectures to 2,000 students at four different Brazilian universities and participate in a workshop for the Diaspora Network.

Prior to her visit to Brasilia Nielsen will participate in an information session at the Lemann Foundation of Brazil, where she will speak with prospective graduate applicants to UCLA master’s degree programs.

The UCLA International Institute congratulates Dr. Nielsen on this signal honor and wishes her much continued success!

See the award ceremony at the presidential palace in Brasilia on U-Tube.