Profs. Jason Abaluck and Mushfiq Mobarak Honored for Landmark Mask Study
Abaluck and Mobarak won the Top Ten Clinical Research Achievement Award from the Clinical Research Forum for their research on the impact of community masking in preventing COVID-19.
Jason Abaluck, professor of economics, and Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak, the Jerome Kasoff ’54 Professor of Management and Economics, are among the winners of the 2023 Top Ten Clinical Research Achievement Award. Abaluck and Mobarak were honored for their study “Impact of community masking on COVID-19: A cluster-randomized trial in Bangladesh,” the first randomized trial to demonstrate the effectiveness of masks in preventing infection in a real-world community setting.
The Top Ten Clinical Research Achievement Award is presented by the Clinical Research Forum, a national organization dedicated to promote research and its translation into clinical care. The award “seeks to identify major advances resulting from the nation’s investment in research to benefit the health and welfare of its citizens.” The winners will be honored at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., in April.
“The Top 10 Clinical Research Achievement Awards honor and celebrate the innovation, tireless efforts and profound contributions that clinical researchers and advocates have made on the health and wellness of humanity,” said Harry P. Selker, chair of the Clinical Research Forum. “We congratulate the 2023 winners for their outstanding efforts.”
Alaluck and Mobarak’s study, a collaboration with the research and policy group Innovations for Poverty Action and scholars from Stanford University, the University of California Berkeley, and other universities, involved more than 340,000 people in 600 villages. The first part of the study identified the most effective strategies for encouraging the use of marks; the second part found that the mask-promotion effort significantly lowered symptomatic infections, especially among older people and when surgical masks were used.
The study led to the adoption of the study’s model for promoting mask usage, known by the acronym “NORM,” in multiple countries, with support from governments and major donors.