The Zurich-based has announced the winners of this year's for outstanding research in the field of child and youth development and practice in the areas of mental health and substance abuse.
The Research Prize was awarded to neurobiologist Michael Meaney of in recognition of his pioneering work on the biological mechanisms by which parental behavior affects offspring development. In 2009, Meaney's research showed for the first time that childhood experiences leave biochemical markers in a human individual's DNA. "Beyond the purely scientific value of his research, Meaney's work has tangible implications for psychosocial interventions and social policy measures to promote child and youth development," the selection jury noted. Meaney will receive an award of one million Swiss francs ($1.04 million).
The Best Practice Prize, which includes an award of 200,000 Swiss francs ($209,000), went to (Serenity Harm Reduction Programme Zambia), which provides comprehensive alcohol and drug abuse prevention services as well as targeted programs aimed at promoting mental health and reducing or preventing substance use. Taking a public health approach, SHARPZ has developed long-term interventions designed to address not only the issues that arise from substance abuse but also factors such as childhood trauma that contribute to it.
"This is an exceptional achievement that is extremely rare in low-resource countries — the art of sustaining an evidence-based interventions," said the foundation’s board in a statement. "SHARPZ has been chosen to receive the 2014 Klaus J. Jacobs Best Practice Prize in recognition of its leadership in implanting evidence-based best practices to help traumatized children in a low-resource, high-stress population."