2020 - All Press Releases

Doctor and public health researcher wins the Nature Research Award for Driving Global Impact 2020

Joshua Vogel is honoured for his research and vision which could lead to the prevention of newborn deaths due to premature births, especially in low- and middle-income countries

London | New York | Berlin, 7 November 2020

This year’s Nature Research Award for Driving Global Impact (DGI) has been awarded to epidemiologist and public health researcher, Joshua Vogel. His work to reduce premature births worldwide is playing a key role in ending preventable deaths of newborns and children under five. Established in November 2018 in partnership with Tencent, the Awards for Driving Global Impact aim to recognise early-career researchers whose work has made, or has the potential to make, a positive impact on global challenges and sustainable growth. The winner receives a cash prize of USD 30,000. 

Premature birth is one of the leading causes of mortality in children under the age of five, and brings considerable psychological and economic difficulties to families that are affected. Around 13 million of the 15 million premature births that occur globally each year are in low-and middle-income countries. As part of his research, Joshua Vogel and his team have tested a sophisticated treatment protocol using antenatal corticosteroids (ACS) as an effective and affordable preterm birth intervention. He also went further to look into the possible negative effects of the improper use of ACS, and has developed guidelines on how they can be used safely by countries around the world. Additionally, Vogel worked together with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other institutions to collect preterm birth data from across 184 countries to better understand where and why preterm birth occurs. 

“We were delighted by the quality of the entries this year. Although it was a hard choice, the winner stood out as having established relationships with partners to successfully deliver evidence-based interventions that have already saved lives and which have the potential to save more, and improve quality of life for many women and children in years to come,” explained Nicola Jones, Head of Publishing for the Springer Nature Sustainable Development Goals Programme, and DGI Panel Chair. 

Edward Cheng, Vice President of Tencent, said: "In the context of this year’s pandemic, awarding young scientists in the field of life sciences is of special significance. Dr. Joshua Vogel, as a young scientist in the field of preterm birth, has considerably reduced global preterm birth mortality with his research. And it is amazing that Dr. Vogel has achieved such remarkable results in a matter of just five years after obtaining his doctorate. Tencent, with technology for good being its new mission, is set to support more young scientists all over the world to explore the cutting-edge science and technology and to relieve the pain of life for all." 

The judging panel also selected two runners up for this year’s award: British atmospheric chemist, Pete Edwards, whose research focuses on chemical processes controlling air pollution and climate issues, and Nigerian physiotherapy/rehabilitation researcher, Chinonso Igwesi-Chidobe, who developed the first intervention treatment programme to tackle chronic lower back pain in rural Nigeria. 

The Nature Research Award for Driving Global Impact encourages early career researchers to think critically about the potential impacts of their work, and to maximise these impacts in the real world. Nature Research will continue to work with Tencent to help young scientists make an impact out of their research. The next call for applications will be issued in January 2021.

About the winner

Joshua Vogel is Associate Professor and Principal Research Fellow in Maternal and Child Health at the Burnet Institute in Melbourne, Australia. He is a medical doctor with a PhD in maternal and perinatal epidemiology. His research work focuses on improving the health and well-being of women and families living in resource-constrained settings. Since 2012, he has coordinated and contributed to a number of WHO-led primary research, knowledge synthesis and implementation activities in low- and middle-income countries. He is also the lead investigator on a six-country evaluation of the new WHO Labour Care Guide for labour and childbirth care. He has led the development of several WHO guidelines, and co-established WHO’s first “living guidelines” in maternal and perinatal health. This is the first international award to recognise his outstanding work.

About the Nature Research Awards for Driving Global Impact 

The Nature Research Awards for Driving Global Impact invites applications from researchers who have established an independent research group within the past five years. Those encouraged to apply will have made an exceptional contribution to solving global challenges. Researchers should be able to demonstrate the application, or potential application, of their research to make a positive impact, defined as an effect on:

●    Food security, water security and/or energy security 
●    Healthcare interventions 
●    Environmental protection 
●    Climate change 
●    Sustainable cities 

The judging panel, chaired by Nicola Jones, Head of Publishing for the Springer Nature Sustainable Development Goals Programme, includes relevant Nature Research editors, and independent experts. The judging process consists of three main phases, with scoring criteria covering scientific achievements, the potential for scientific impact and impact on global challenges. The awards offer a prize of USD30,000 to one winner. Further details about the awards, including guidelines for applicants, are available at: nature.com/impactawards

About Nature Research

Nature Research is a portfolio of high-quality products and services across the life, physical, chemical and applied sciences – including journals, databases and researcher services – dedicated to serving the scientific community.

Nature (founded in 1869) is the leading, international weekly journal of science. Nature Research also publishes a range of Nature-branded subscription journals, the leading open access multidisciplinary journal Nature Communications, other open access journals including Scientific Reports, and a range of Nature Partner Journals published in partnership with institutions and societies. Together, these journals publish some of the world's most significant scientific discoveries.

Online, nature.com provides over nine million unique visitors per month with Nature Research content, including news and comment from Nature, and the leading scientific jobs board, Nature Careers. Nature Research also offers a range of researcher services, including online and in-person training and expert language and editing services. For more information, please visit nature.com and follow @nresearchnews. Nature Research is part of Springer Nature.

About Springer Nature

For over 175 years Springer Nature has been advancing discovery by providing the best possible service to the whole research community. We help researchers uncover new ideas, make sure all the research we publish is significant, robust and stands up to objective scrutiny, that it reaches all relevant audiences in the best possible format, and can be discovered, accessed, used, re-used and shared. We support librarians and institutions with innovations in technology and data; and provide quality publishing support to societies. 

As a research publisher, Springer Nature is home to trusted brands including Springer, Nature Research, BMC, Palgrave Macmillan and Scientific American. For more information, please visit springernature.com and @SpringerNature.

About Tencent

Tencent uses technology to enrich the lives of Internet users. Our social products Weixin and QQ link our users to a rich digital content catalogue including games, video, music and books. Our proprietary targeting technology helps advertisers reach out to hundreds of millions of consumers in China. Our infrastructure services including payment, security, cloud and artificial intelligence create differentiated offerings and support our partners’ business growth. Tencent invests heavily in people and innovation, enabling us to evolve with the Internet.

Tencent was founded in Shenzhen, China, in 1998. Shares of Tencent (00700.HK) are traded on the Main Board of the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong.


Elizabeth Hawkins | Springer Nature | Communications
tel +49 6221 487 8130 | elizabeth.hawkins@springernature.com