Rita Colwell, distinguished professor from the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health, has been named the 2010 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate. Colwell’s pioneering research on the prevention of waterborne infectious diseases has helped protect the health and lives of millions.

Colwell, 76, is widely recognized as one of this century’s most influential voices in science, technology and policy associated with water and health. She has made exceptional contributions to control the spread of cholera, a waterborne pathogen that infects 3 million to 5 million people, and leads to an estimated 120,000 deaths each year. Through her groundbreaking research, innovations and decades of scientific leadership, she has defined our current understanding of the ecology of infectious diseases and developed the use of advanced technologies to halt their spread. Her work has established the basis for environmental and infectious disease risk assessment used around the world.

“Dr. Rita Colwell’s numerous seminal contributions toward solving the world’s water and water-related public health problems, particularly her work to prevent the spread of cholera, is of utmost global importance,” notes the Stockholm Water Prize Nominating Committee in its citation. “Through her research on its physiology, ecology and metabolism, Dr. Colwell advanced the fields of mathematics, genetics and remote sensing technology – not only as they relate to these bacteria, but to the prevention other diseases in many developing countries.”

The Stockholm Water Prize is a global award founded in 1990, and is presented annually by the Stockholm International Water Institute to an individual, organization or institution for outstanding water-related activities.