Government of Mexico selects Carlos del Rio for Ohtli Award

April 19, 2016

Carlos del Rio, MD, a global health and infectious disease leader at Emory University, has been selected as the 2016 recipient of the Ohtli Award, one of the highest awards given by the Government of Mexico. del Rio is professor of medicine in Emory University School of Medicine and Hubert Professor and chair of the Hubert Department of Global Health in Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health.

The Ohtli Award was conceived to recognize and honor Mexican, Mexican-American or Latino leaders whose efforts have contributed significantly to the wellbeing, prosperity and empowerment of Mexican communities abroad. Ohtli is a Nahuatl word that means "pathway," or camino in Spanish. The Institute for Mexicans Abroad, part of the Secretariat of Foreign Affairs of Mexico, annually grants the Ohtli Award, which consists of a medal, a silver rosette, and a diploma. This acknowledgment honors people who have dedicated most of their lives and career to "blazing a trail" abroad for younger generations of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans as they strive to achieve their dreams.

The award will be presented on May 5, 2016, at the headquarters of the Consulate General of Mexico in Atlanta.

"The Ohtli Award is one of the highest distinctions given by the Government of Mexico to distinguished Mexicans who live abroad," says Dr. Ricardo Camara, consul general of Mexico in Atlanta. "Dr. del Río will receive the Ohtli Award in recognition of his magnificent performance over many years in the health sciences field, in addition to his contributions in medical research that have also benefited the Mexican community. I am very proud to be responsible for delivering this award to a such a distinguished Mexican doctor with huge human qualities and who is among my personal friends."

"I consider it a tremendous honor to receive this award," says del Rio. "Much of the work that leads to this recognition is the work that we have been doing in collaboration with colleagues at the Rollins School of Public Health with the "Ventanilla de Salud" since 2014, the support and mentorship I have been able to provide to Mexicans who have come to Emory for their training as medical or public health students or as residents, as well as the work that I do helping with immigrants who are sick or injured in securing access to health care or even their repatriation to Mexico."

The Ventanilla de Salud (Window to Health) is a partnership between the Rollins School of Public Health and the Consulate General of Mexico. The program aims to actively promote the health and wellbeing of Mexican nationals in Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee. The program focuses on disseminating health education and prevention strategies, assisting in enrolling Mexican nationals or individuals of Mexican origin into insurance programs, and providing screenings and health assessments. With Mexicans representing approximately two-thirds of the Latino population in many southern states including Georgia, the program also provides relevant hands-on training for Emory students to include Spanish improvement and cultural competency.

A native of Mexico, del Rio received his medical degree at Universidad La Salle. After completing his residency at Emory University, he returned to Mexico, where he was executive director of the National AIDS Council of Mexico from 1992 to 1996.

Since 1996, when he returned to Emory, he has focused on global health education and HIV/AIDS research and clinical care. He is program director of the Emory AIDS International Training and Research Program and co-director of the Emory Center for AIDS Research (CFAR). His research focuses on the early diagnosis, access to care, engagement in care, compliance with antiretrovirals and the prevention of HIV infection. He has worked with hard-to-reach populations including substance abusers to improve outcomes of those infected with HIV and to prevent infections in those at risk.

del Rio is co-principal investigator of the NIH-funded Emory-CDC HIV Clinical Trials Unit, clinical site leader for the Adult AIDS Clinical Trials Group, and site leader for the HIV Prevention Trials Network of the National Institutes of Health. His international work includes collaborations with the countries of Mexico, Georgia, Ethiopia and Vietnam. He is a member of the Board of the International Antiviral Society-USA and chair of the HIV Medicine Association of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. He was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies in 2013.

Among his many honors are the James H. Nakano Citation from the CDC for an outstanding scientific paper, the Emory University Marion V. Creekmore Achievement Award for Internationalization, and the Thomas Jefferson Award, Emory’s highest award for distinguished service to the University. In 2007 he was selected by Atlanta Magazine as one of the 55 most influential foreign-born Atlantans.