It’s a celebration of maternal and child health heroes

Penta’s Brighter Future Award is a global initiative to celebrate the champions who work to improve health outcomes for pregnant people and children living with infectious diseases worldwide.

As we acknowledge the vital role of local champions in driving positive change, the BFA aims to recognise these outstanding change-makers and provide opportunities for scientists to connect with and learn from local communities at the forefront of maternal and child health.

The BFA is an opportunity for us all to honour the work done by these champions to enhance the health of pregnant people, children and young people.


Award Categories


Penta’s Brighter Future Award

Six innovative grassroots champions from each of the six global regions will win €5000 each to support their ongoing work. Both individuals and organisations are eligible for this award.


Penta’s Brighter Future Young Researcher Award

One exceptional young researcher undertaking or holding a PhD or equivalent professional training, ready to develop their research identity will win €5000 to be used to support and raise the visibility of their research by covering lab fees, congress fees, journal publication fees etc.


Champions from around the world


Euros prize pool to fund 7 champions' projects globally


Award categories: 6 regional awards and 1 young researcher award

Important Dates

15 September 2023: Nominations close

2 October 2023: Jury voting begins

12 December 2023: Winners announced

April 2024: Award Ceremony

Meet the BFA winners


It is our honour to announce and celebrate the extraordinary individuals being recognised for the BFA. These 6 maternal and child health heroes work to improve health outcomes for children and pregnant people living with and affected by infectious diseases. Through their unwavering commitment, they strive to create a world where every child and pregnant person can thrive in good health.  Videos of all 17 BFA finalists are available here.

Young Researcher: Isaquel Bartolomeu Silva

Africa: Adeodata R Kekitiinwa

Asia: Maria Karren Sta Maria

Central and South America: Alejandra Sánchez Cabezas

Europe: Medicus Mundi Italia

North America: Jennifer Furin



We’ve listed all the important details you need to know about the Penta BFA. From deadlines and eligibility, winner announcements and criteria we’ve covered it all. Please read the rules carefully, so you understand everything you need to know about nominating your champions for the Penta Brighter Future Awards.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the BFA?

The Penta’s Brighter Future Award (BFA) is an annual award recognising global maternal and child health champions who go the extra mile to improve health outcomes for children and pregnant people living with infectious diseases globally. The award is open to individuals or organisations.

What are the goals of the BFA?

The three broader goals of the BFA are the following:

  • To provide opportunities for scientists to connect with and learn from local communities at the forefront of maternal and child health
  • To support initiatives designed to improve maternal and child health, especially in neglected and emerging old and new childhood infections
  • To help scientists work towards solutions that have a real-world impact on public health by closing the gaps between science and society.

What does the BFA give its winners?

The BFA offers a € 5,000 prize to each of its seven winners, giving them the financial support they need to continue their essential work.

But that’s not all! The BFA will fly the winners – all expenses paid – to Penta’s biennial scientific meeting (PIM 2024) in Italy to meet with our community of scientists. At PIM 2024, Penta will give the BFA winners a platform to share their work with our researchers and learn about our work.

This conference will begin a long-term relationship as we continue to partner for the brighter future of our children.

If a BFA winner is an organisation, one member will have the opportunity to travel to Italy for the BFA ceremony officially.

Who qualifies for a BFA?

The Penta Brighter Future Award is open to individuals or organisations significantly contributing to maternal and child health, particularly infectious diseases affecting children. The BFA winners may include:

  • Established community leaders
  • Emerging researchers
  • Professionals who have contributed considerably to the field.

Could a community or group be nominated instead of one person?

Absolutely. We encourage group nominations. However, only one of the group members will officially travel to Italy in 2024 for the BFA ceremony.

How many winners will the BFA have?

The BFA will award 7 prizes, € 5,000 each (any direct and indirect cost included).

There are 2 categories in the BFA:

  • Penta’s Brighter Future Award: Six awards will be given, one for each of the six regions listed in the BFA rules
  • Penta’s Brighter Future Young Researcher Award: One award will be given to a researcher in the maternal and child health field.

Please see our definition of a Young Researcher here.

What are the criteria for potential winners of Penta's Bright Future Award?

The Penta’s BFA will go to individuals or organisations whose work stands out for the following qualities:

  • Innovation and commitment: Is their work innovative by addressing maternal and child health, specifically in infectious diseases prevention, treatment, and management in a new way; and is it committed to improving maternal and child health?
  • Sustainability: The work is sustainable and replicable for other people in the field.
  • Collaboration: The work being nominated is a product of collaboration with the community.
  • Leadership: As demonstrated by the nominee’s vision and approach to the work.
  • Social justice and inclusion: Penta BFA will only promote work that treats everyone equally irrespective of gender, age, racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, or personal identity.

What are the criteria for potential Penta's Brighter Future Young Researcher Award winners?

The Penta’s Brighter Future Young Researcher Award will go to a young researcher whose research activity stands out for the following qualities:

  • Demonstrated potential: The young researcher should have demonstrated potential for making significant contributions to the field of maternal and child health, specifically in infectious disease prevention, treatment, or management.
  • Innovation and creativity: The young researcher should have demonstrated an innovative and creative approach to addressing the challenges of maternal and child health, such as developing new interventions, strategies, or technologies.
  • Collaboration: The young researcher should have demonstrated a willingness to collaborate with others, such as working with other researchers or engaging with local communities to address maternal and child health challenges.
  • Equity and social justice: The young researcher’s work should demonstrate a commitment to addressing the needs of marginalised or underserved populations.

Please see our definition of a Young Researcher here.

How do we define a Young Researcher?

We define a Young Researcher as an individual undertaking or holding a PhD or equivalent professional training ready to develop their research identity. More specifically, we consider a Young Researcher to be an individual who is

  • Pre-doctoral or doctoral student, or
  • Post-doc within the first four years of employment after having received their PhD, or
  • Resident (MDs in training within the first five years after becoming MD).

Please note that pro-rata applies in each case if there’s a career break, e.g., due to parental leave.

How do I nominate for the BFA?

To nominate someone for the BFA is easy:

  1. Go to the “Nominate” section on the BFA webpage of the Penta ID website.
  2. Fill out the simple form and tell us about your nominee and why they should be given the BFA. We want to hear about their extraordinary work in preventing and treating infectious diseases in maternal and child health in their local community.

Keep in mind that you are not allowed to provide any sensitive information within your nomination, such as racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, health-related data, data concerning a person’s sex life or sexual orientation, trade union membership, or genetic data.

The person you are nominating must be 16 or older by 1st April 2024. You must be 16 or older to nominate someone for the BFA.

You must consent to share your information with our team per EU law. The nomination is not anonymous, and the nominee will be informed about the identity of the nominator.

Nominations are open from 15 June 2023 until 15 September 2023.

What happens after the nomination?

Once your nomination has reached us, we will need the nominee to accept the nomination by email. Please tell them to check their email.

If they accept the nomination, they will be asked to fill out a quick online form to tell us about their work and why they should be our next BFA champion.

Our BFA Jury will rigorously check through the nominations against the criteria listed in the Award Criteria section.

The Jury will vote for 21 finalists.

We will contact the finalists to ask them to send a short video of themselves talking about their work. It is mandatory to send your video to remain in the competition. Instructions on the video recording and submission will be provided.

Due to the global nature of this award, please kindly note that all entries will be in English, and the BFA will never judge anyone based on their English language skill.

The BFA team will share the videos of the 21 finalists with the Penta ID Network – a global community of healthcare professionals, researchers, and scientists – who will then submit their votes confidentially to our team.

To ensure every region worldwide is represented, we will cast final votes according to the following areas:

  • North America: This region includes the US, Bermuda, St. Pierre, Miquelon, Canada, and Greenland.
  • Central and South America: This region includes Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
  • Europe: This region includes the countries of the continent of Europe, including Russia, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Poland, and many others.
  • Africa: This region includes the countries on the continent of Africa, including Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Tanzania, and many others.
  • Asia: This region includes the countries of Asia, including China, Japan, India, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Thailand, and many others.
  • Oceania: This region includes the countries and islands of the Pacific Ocean, including Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, and many others.

The BFA will announce our seven finalists with the highest votes.

Meet our international jury!

Our Jury is made of up of diverse experts all dutifully involved in maternal and child health. Each member brings a unique perspective and wealth of knowledge to ensure a comprehensive evaluation of all nominations received.

Claire Thorne, Professor, University College London Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, UK

Claire’s research on viral infections and their impact on maternal and child health has made her a renowned expert in the field. With a focus on HIV, viral hepatitis, Zika virus, and SARS-CoV-2, her work is essential for understanding and mitigating the effects of these diseases. As a Board member of the Penta Foundation ETS, Claire helps shape the future of infectious disease research.

Cristina Barroso Hofer, Professor, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Brasil

Cristina is an accomplished infectious disease specialist focusing on congenital infections research. Having earned her MSc and PhD in infectious disease epidemiology from prestigious universities, her expertise is invaluable. Cristina’s commitment to understanding and combating infectious diseases drives her work.

Tavitiya Sudjaritruk, Paediatric Infectious Disease Specialist, Chiang Mai University, Thailand

Tavitiya’s research explores HIV/AIDS in children and adolescents in resource-limited countries. She investigates long-term complications, opportunistic infections, vaccination strategies, and mental health disorders in these populations. As an Ananda Mahidol Scholarship recipient and holder of various awards and honours, Tavitiya’s work is truly pioneering.

Talía Sainz, Assistant Professor, Autonoma University of Madrid, Spain

Talía is a dedicated paediatrician with a passion for researching paediatric HIV and host-microbiome interactions. She collaborates with PentaTr@ining courses and the Spanish Ministry of Health to provide HIV management training for professionals in resource-limited settings. With over 85 publications to her name, Talía is an esteemed member of CoRISpe.

Eleanor Namusoke-Magongo, Founder, International Paediatric HIV/AIDS Symposium for Africa (IPHASA), Uganda

Eleanor is an esteemed Paediatrician and Child Health Specialist. She specialises in creating and expanding HIV care and treatment programmes. Eleanor is the founder of IPHASA and PAHLCA, which promote knowledge-sharing among healthcare professionals and stakeholders in Africa. Currently, she leads the establishment of the first national paediatric and adolescent HIV cohort in Uganda. Her unwavering commitment to fighting HIV/AIDS has resulted in significant progress in the field.

Vana Papaevangelou, Paediatric Infectious Diseases Expert, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece

As a trained paediatrician with a focus on infectious diseases, Vana has dedicated her career to clinical practice and research in tertiary teaching hospitals since 1996. Her interests include epidemiology of vaccine-preventable diseases and vertical transmission of infections, and her extensive work has resulted in over 170 published papers in peer-reviewed journals. Vana’s commitment to her field is demonstrated by her involvement in various national committees and boards, including COVID-19 response and Viral Hepatitis Prevention Board.

Lungile Jafta, Penta Youth Engagement and participation expert, South Africa

Lungie is a Youth Participation and Engagement expert. She has years of experience in engaging and empowering young people to actively participate in the clinical trials that directly affect their lives. She is currently responsible for Penta Youth Trial Boards of the Sub-Saharan African Region, a structure that ensures that youth participation in clinical trials is meaningful and the representation of young people in these clinical trials is acknowledged.

Gareth Tudor-Williams, Emeritus Professor, Imperial College London, UK

With a distinguished career in paediatric infectious diseases, Gareth specialises in HIV infection in children. As the founder of CHIVA, he has participated in international paediatric blood-borne virus infection trials for 30 years. Gareth’s current collaborations with Penta and UNICEF, and his role as chair of the London Central Research Ethics Committee for the Health Research Authority UK, demonstrate his continued impact in the field.

BFA Partners

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