Announcing changes to MDP leadership

2 September 2016

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Yao Sodahlon, MD, MSc, will become the next Director of the Mectizan Donation Program (MDP), beginning on October 17, 2016. Yao will replace Dr. Adrian Hopkins, who will be retiring after nearly nine years serving as director of the MDP.

Yao has 20 years of experience in positions of increasing responsibility focused on global health and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs ). From 1996 to 2006 he worked in the Ministry of Health of Togo, leading a range of public health and disease control programs. Since 2006 has been the Senior Associate Director of the MDP, working closely with Adrian on onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis control and elimination efforts.  Yao is also a visiting scientist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in Atlanta, and has authored and contributed to dozens of peer-reviewed articles on tropical disease and public health.

As we welcome Yao, we will greatly miss Dr. Hopkins.  Since 2008, he led the MDP through a time of significant growth while navigating a range of complicated technical and operational challenges.  Adrian will remain with MDP in a transitional / advisory capacity through the end of 2016, and we will have a more thorough recognition of Adrian and his accomplishments at a later date.

Please join us in welcoming Yao and supporting him in his new role.

Dr. Adrian Hopkins leaves us with this message:

Dear Colleagues,

Today marks the end of 9 years as Director of the Mectizan Donation Program and the beginning of semi-retirement, although I am not sure yet what that really means.

I am thrilled to be handing over to Dr Yao Sodahlon as the new director of the program.  Most of you have already been informed about the changes and already know Yao very well due to his dealings with you over you Mectizan issues for many years.  I have come to rely on Yao’s detailed knowledge of the different national programs, his understanding of the issues around the elimination agenda and its implementation in African countries. Yao clearly indicates important issues that have to be addressed, but I have also valued his political advice when delicate issues have to be managed.  I am very fortunate to be passing on the baton to such a capable and knowledgeable colleague.  We are on the brink of elimination of lymphatic filariasis in Africa and, looking a bit more in the future, the elimination of onchocerciasis. These are exciting and challenging times.

I also want to express my thanks to Joni Lawrence at MDP who is our “institutional memory” and has been responsible for communications and keeping the office functioning when Yao and I have been out of the office, as well as Nikita McCage who has been very involved with our logistics and making sure we are well fed during our various meetings!  They have been a really good support team, not forgetting some others who have worked with us during recent years including Helen Lim who left us recently having worked on our database.  This means MDP will be recruiting some new staff for this new era moving forward and I am sure that Yao and the modified team will be enthusiastically addressing the new challenges in the future.

Although no longer in Atlanta, I look forward to working with Yao during a brief transition period to the end of the year, so please keep us both copied on important e-mails until then.

With my best wishes for your efforts at elimination!
Adrian Hopkins