The Letten Prize for 2023 to Dr. Paula Moraga
The Norwegian Letten Prize of the year is awarded to a Spanish researcher dedicated to preventing new pandemics through groundbreaking surveillance tools.
This years marks the third time the prize is being awarded, and it goes to the Spanish scientist Dr. Paula Moraga (41) for her pioneering work in developing big data technology for disease surveillance, capable of detecting outbreaks of infectious diseases in near real-time
Aiming to halt new pandemics
The jury justifies the award as following:
“For her groundbreaking research ambitions towards early detection of epidemics and designing control strategies worldwide, through the development of innovative and cost-effective disease surveillance systems at finer spatial and temporal scales than currently available”
The Letten Prize, established in Norway 2018, aims to highlight young researchers who contribute to solving major global challenges in health, development, environment, and equality. Dr. Paula Moraga wins the prize for her work in developing more accurate and precise surveillance tools than the systems available today. She combines mathematics, statistics, and programming in the development of surveillance tools capable of detecting outbreaks of infectious diseases in near real-time. The ongoing research has the potential to help prevent future pandemics.
“I would like to provide national health organizations with comprehensive tools that empower them to utilize their data to make better-informed decisions effectively,”
The Letten Prize Winner 2023 – Dr. Paula Moraga
Dr. Moraga is employed as a public health surveillance researcher at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia.
Big data as a tool
Dr. Moraga works on integrating multiple and unconventional data sources, including those from social media, for more effective disease tracking. She utilizes statistical methods and computational tools to understand and analyze the progression of diseases, assess risk factors, identify clusters, measure inequalities, and evaluate the impacts of interventions.
In her previous work, she has contributed to reducing the burden of malaria and cancer in various countries, including Malawi, Brazil and Canada. This year’s prize winner is awarded 2.5 million Norwegian kroner for her research on disease surveillance.
Unanimous jury decision
A broadly composed international jury, led by Associate Professor Heidi Holmen from OsloMet, believes that Dr. Moraga´s project is of significant international importance.
“The jury was unanimous in its recommendation. Her project is ambitious yet feasible, aligning perfectly with Letten´s vision. The funding will contribute to achieving something concrete, and the knowledge generated from the project will hold great global value”
Jury leader Heidi Holmen.
This year´s jury consists of researchers with interdisciplinary expertise from six different countries. Out of the 164 applicants for the Letten Prize, the top five candidates from universities around the world received honorable mention. However, the jury had no doubt that Dr. Paula Moraga had the strongest application.
The Letten Prize is awarded by the Young Academy of Norway and the Letten Foundation, established by Professor Letten F. Saugstad in 1986. The foundation has since funded research in Norway and abroad, aiming to highlight the efforts of outstanding young researchers who contribute to solving major global challenges. Letten Saugstad was a professor of biological psychology at NTNU in Trondheim. Her work is characterized by significant academic and thematic breadth, connecting disciplines in new and unexpected ways. The biennial prize aims to showcase young researchers´ solutions for a sustainable future, with a particular emphasis on interdisciplinary projects addressing major global challenges. The prize is intended as recognition for researchers under the age of 45.
For more information and interview request, please contact:
The Young Academy of Norway and Letten Foundation:
Coordinator Håkon Sandbakken,
email: email@example.com, phone: +47 45403077
Jury leader, Heidi Holmen (OsloMet),
email: firstname.lastname@example.org, phone: +47 67238241
Leader of the Letten prize committee and the Young Academy of Norway, Nils Hallvard Korsvoll,
Prize winner, Dr. Paula Moraga,
email: email@example.com, phone: tlf: +966 54 470 0011
Press contact, KAUST, Julie West,
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