Leading UKZN AIDS Scientist Elected to Prestigious International Society
UKZN’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Salim Abdool Karim has been elected as a Fellow of the prestigious Royal Society in Britain - the world’s oldest science academy.
Abdool Karim becomes one of only three scientists in South Africa who are presently Fellows of the Society.
Abdool Karim, Director of the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) and the CAPRISA Professor of Global Health in Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University in the United States, is globally respected for his seminal scientific contributions to AIDS research.
His official induction into the Royal Society takes place in London on 12 July.
‘This is absolutely wonderful news – what a proud moment for South Africa,’ said the President of the South African Medical Research Council, Professor Glenda Gray.
Established in 1660 by Royal Charter, the Royal Society, which is based in London, has included many of the world’s leading scientists over the past four centuries from Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin to Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking. To qualify for a Royal Society Fellowship, an individual must have made a ‘substantial contribution to the improvement of natural knowledge, including mathematics, engineering science and medical science’.
Fifty eminent scientists from across the globe have become Fellows of the Royal Society this year, as well as 10 new Foreign Members for their exceptional contributions to science.
‘Over the course of the Royal Society’s vast history, it is our Fellowship that has remained a constant thread and the substance from which our purpose has been realised: to use science for the benefit of humanity,’ said Dr Venki Ramakrishnan, President of the Royal Society. ‘This year’s newly-elected Fellows and Foreign Members of the Royal Society embody this, being drawn from diverse fields of inquiry - epidemiology, geometry, climatology - at once disparate, but also aligned, in their pursuit and contributions of knowledge about the world in which we live, and it is with great honour that I welcome them as Fellows of the Royal Society.’
Abdool Karim, one of the foremost AIDS scientists in the world, has undertaken HIV-TB treatment research that has saved lives and developed new approaches to HIV prevention, focused particularly on young women in Africa, the group with the highest rates of HIV infection. He is widely recognised as a visionary who has been hailed in a 2014 Nature Medicine article as ‘…one of South Africa’s undisputed leaders in clinical research’ and credited with turning around a “moribund” MRC with ‘visionary leadership’.
Abdool Karim said he was‘deeply humbled by this honour. ‘I am thankful to my many colleagues and collaborators who helped me achieve this. I hope it helps inspire more scientists in Africa to persevere in their pursuit of scientific excellence.’
His impressive list of honours includes the most prestigious scientific award in Africa - the African Union’s Kwame Nkrumah Continental Scientific Award.
He is an elected Member of the United States National Academy of Medicine and the American Academy of Microbiology.
For more information, visit: https://royalsociety.org/news/2019/04/royal-society-announces-2019-fellows/
Words: Smita Maharaj