|Doctor Nguyễn Thanh Liêm. — Photo vietnamfriendship.vn|Viet Nam News
TOKYO — Nguyễn Thanh Liêm, director of the Stem Cell and Gene Technology Institute at Vinmec Times City International Hospital, has become the first Vietnamese doctor to receive the 2018 Nikkei Asia Prize in the science and technology category.
The honour was awarded to the doctor at a ceremony in Tokyo on Wednesday in recognition of his work advancing healthcare for children.
Nikkei said Liêm performed Asia’s first laparoscopic surgery on a child. Commonly used on adults, the procedure involves making small incisions in the abdomen, but is more difficult to perform on children because their bodies are smaller, leaving less room to work.
Having learned minimally invasive surgery from French pioneer Philippe Mouret, Liêm was determined to "bring pediatric endoscopic surgery to Vietnam" to reduce the need for major procedures that leave serious pain and scars.
In 2014, he became a pioneer in using stem cell transplants to treat serious disorders such as cerebral palsy.
The Nikkei Asia Prize in the field of business innovation was presented to Chinese environmentalist Ma Jun.
Bindeshwar Pathak, founder of Indian non-profit Sulabh International, won the culture and community category.
The prize was created in 1996 to commemorate the 120th anniversary of Nikkei’s Japanese language newspaper. Past winners include Manmohan Singh, who won in 1997 before becoming India’s prime minister, and Bangladeshi social entrepreneur Muhammad Yunus, who was honored in 2004 and went on to receive the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for pioneering the concept of microfinance. —VNS