28 October 2015 Volume :3 Issue :49

Platinum Award for Leading UKZN HIV/AIDS Researcher

Platinum Award for Leading UKZN HIV/AIDS Researcher
Professor Salim Abdool Karim receives the SA Medical Research Council’s Platinum Lifetime Achievement Award.

While South Africa has made impressive progress in its HIV response, the spread of the disease has yet to be controlled, says leading UKZN AIDS scientist, Professor Salim Abdool Karim, who was named as a recipient of the SA Medical Research Council’s (SAMRC) Platinum Lifetime Achievement Award for ‘excellence in research’ this year.

‘Impressive progress in scientific discovery, resource mobilisation, political commitment and implementation has been achieved but young women in Africa still have high HIV rates,’ said Abdool Karim.  ‘Each day there are about 1 000 new infections in South Africa.’

An accomplished scientist who has dedicated more than 30 years to social justice, human rights activism and scientific research, Abdool Karim has made several important breakthroughs ranging from treatment for HIV-TB co-infected people to new approaches to prevent HIV infections.

Commenting on his current research, which focuses mainly on innovative technologies to prevent HIV, he said: ‘We won’t stop HIV in young women tomorrow but it has to be part of our long-term vision.’

According to the SAMRC, the Platinum Medal is a Lifetime Achievement Award for an outstanding scientist who has contributed substantially to improving health through research and helped build the foundations of health research in the country for future generations.

Chairperson of the SAMRC Board, Professor Mike Sathekge, paid tribute to Abdool Karim, saying the Medical Research Council ‘recognises and congratulates you as an outstanding South African scientist who has contributed enormously to raising the profile of science in South Africa’.

In response to the HIV epidemic in KwaZulu-Natal, Abdool Karim established the award-winning research institute CAPRISA - Centre of the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa.

He is Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research at UKZN and Professor in Clinical Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University in the United States.  He chairs the Scientific Expert Panel of the Joint United Nations Programme on AIDS, UNAIDS and is a member of both the World Health Organization’s HIV-TB Task Force and the WHO Expert Panel on Sexually Transmitted Infections and HIV.

He is an elected Fellow of the Academy of Science in South Africa, The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS), the African Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society of South Africa, the American Academy of Microbiology and the US National Academy of Medicine. He serves on the Boards of Lancet-Global Health, Lancet-HIV and the New England Journal of Medicine.

The award will be presented at the SAMRC Scientific Merit Awards Evening in Cape Town on 29 October.

Smita Maharaj

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