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Winners 2014

Silver Awards

Associate Professor Helen McIlleron - UCT

Dr McIlleron is associate professor in Clinical Pharmacology at the University of Cape Town. Together with her research partners, she evaluates the pharmacokinetics (PK) and pharmacodyanamics (PD) of antituberculosis and antiretroviral drugs in east, west and southern Africa. She has pioneered evaluation of PK/PD and pharmacogenetic relationships in large populations of patients with TB, which allows definition of target drug concentration thresholds. Her work provided key evidence to support the World Health Organization’s recently revised dosing guidelines for the treatment of childhood tuberculosis, and her studies in HIV infected adults and children with tuberculosis have informed national policies and international guidelines for antiretroviral treatment in patients on rifampicin-based TB treatment.


Doctor Musa M. Mhlanga

Dr Mhlanga heads the Laboratory for Gene Expression & Biophysics and holds a joint appointment at the Institute of Molecular Medicine in Lisbon, Portugal. He has sought to extend the molecular tools we have for protein to mRNA and thus to create a more complete understanding of basic cell biology. It is from this basic understanding that the ability to manipulate biological systems, thus synthetic biology, can emerge. He has brought his extensive experience working with advanced imaging and microscopy tools to bear on one of the most fundamental questions in cell biology: understanding how genes are regulated and the role pathogens, such as viruses and bacteria, play in this.


Professor Makama Andries Monyeki - NWU

Makama Andries Monyeki is a professor in the School of Biokinetics, Recreation and Sport Science at the Faculty of Health Sciences of the Potchefstroom Campus of the North-West University. Professor Monyeki currently has held a Y2 NRF rating since 2008 and received the Janssen-Cilag Award for a best research article as well as a certificate for the young researcher in 2003. He is a principal investigator (PI), of the NRF- and MRC-funded self-initiated Physical Activity and Health Determinants Longitudinal Study (PAHLS) in adolescents attending schools in the Tlokwe Local Municipality. Professor Monyeki, in his career as a lecturer and a researcher, contributed immensely to knowledge in the area of body composition (i.e. undernutrition, overweight or obesity), physical activity epidemiology, and health-related fitness in children and adolescents.


Associate Professor Thomas Scriba

Dr Scriba is associate professor at the University of Cape Town and Deputy Director of Immunology at the South African TB Vaccine Initiative (SATVI), a large research group focusing on development of new tuberculosis vaccines. He leads a clinical immunopathogenesis of TB laboratory and has led the immunology, analysis for more than 10 clinical trials of novel TB vaccines, conducted in a setting highly endemic for TB. He is member of several international working groups on biomarkers and vaccine immunology, and is actively involved in postgraduate training. He received bachelors and masters degrees from the University of Stellenbosch and a DPhil from Oxford University, and trained in paediatric and clinical immunology in tuberculosis and vaccinology at SATVI in Cape Town as a postdoctoral fellow.


Doctor Grant Theron
Dr Theron is a senior scientist in the Lung Infection and Immunity Unit in the Department of Medicine at the University of Cape Town. His research is on tuberculosis and drug resistance, which represent a public health crisis in sub-Saharan Africa. He has focused on the design and field evaluation of improved diagnostics for TB. Dr Theron recently led a landmark, four-country randomised controlled trial of the GeneXpert test for TB. He is also a recipient of the Young Investigator Scientific Prize awarded by the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, and he was selected as one of the top 100 young south africans by the Mail and Guardian newspaper.


Silver Award - Capacity Building

Professor Alan Christoffels
Professor Christoffels, is the director of the MRC’s Bioinformatics Unit, SANBI at the University of the Western Cape. He contributes significantly to bioinformatics training via UWC where he is a SARChi incumbent. Since 2009, Prof. Christoffels has graduated 11 PhD and 10 MSc students at UWC, all from disadvantaged backgrounds. In 2010, Prof. Christoffels introduced a bioinformatics internship, held every December, for BSc graduates of the University of the Western Cape. He coordinated 13 genomics workshops at SANBI: these courses were, so far, attended by 744 South African students/researchers. In 2010, he introduced a bioinformatics internship, held every December, for BSc graduates of the University of the Western Cape. Prof. Christoffels's continental research support includes hosting bioinformatics workshops for African biomedical researchers.


Gold Awards

Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim

Prof. Quarraisha Abdool Karim is the chairperson of the South African National AIDS Council’s Prevention Task Team and is the vice-president of the African Academy of Science (southern African region). She was the founding national director of the South African National HIV/AIDS and STD programme in the Mandela government. She is associate scientific director at CAPRISA and Professor of Epidemiology at Columbia University in New York. Through her pioneering scientific work in HIV and AIDS, she has empowered and continues to empower millions of women, particularly in rural South Africa. She is the recipient of several prestigious international and national awards including the 2013 African Union Kwame Nkrumah award for Science and Technology, the 2012 Prize for Medical Sciences from The World Academy of Sciences and the Order of Mapungubwe awarded by the President of South Africa in 2013.


Professor Rachel Jewkes

Prof. Jewkes is currently the director of the MRC’s Gender and Health Research Unit. She is a former acting vice-president of the South African Medical Research Council and is an honorary professor at the University of the Witwatersrand School of Public Health. She is an A-rated scientist. She is secretary of the Sexual Violence Research Initiative and the director of the ‘What Works to Prevent Violence Global Programme’, which seeks to advance knowledge on prevention of violence against women and girls in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. She is a member of the WHO Expert Advisory Panel on Injury and Violence Prevention and Control. Her work has spanned epidemiology, anthropology, clinical research, and research in the health, education and justice sectors.


Gold Award - African Scientist

Professor Charles Rotimi
Prof. Rotimi is the chief of the Metabolic, Cardiovascular and Inflammatory Disease Genomics Branch and the director of the Center for Research on Genomics and Global Health in the National Human Genome Research Institute, NIH. His lab conducts genomic and epidemiologic studies that explore the patterns and determinants of metabolic disorders with particular emphasis on African ancestry populations. He is a member of the Executive and Scientific Committee for the International Federation of Human Genetics Societies and the Human Genome Organization (HUGO) Council. Professor Rotimi is also the founding president of the African Society of Human Genetics (AfSHG).


Platinum Awards

Professor Gregory Hussey

Prof. Hussey is director of Vaccines for Africa Initiative, and director of Clinical Research Centre at the University of Cape Town. He also serves as senior research advisor in the Faculty of Health Sciences, UCT and he has been an ad-hoc World Health Organization (WHO) consultant for the past 20 years, and serves on a number of their influential committees.

He was the founding director of South Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative (2000–2009), and developed this into the leading TB vaccine clinical trial site globally. He was also the first director of the Institute of Infectious Diseases and Molecular Medicine (2006–2010), now recognised as one of the foremost research groups on the African continent. His current Vaccines for Africa Initiative has established a significant footprint on the African continent and focuses on translation of research evidence into health policy and practice.


Professor Robin Wood

Prof. Wood is currently emeritus professor of Medicine at UCT, honary professor at LSTM&H London University and a visiting scientist at Harvard Medical School. His work in the area of HIV/AIDS extends to before the identification of the causative virus, first encountering it while practicing in Zambia in the early 1980s. As a fellow at Stanford, his research focused on early HIV therapies and the development of HI-viral quantitation. He headed the first HIV clinic in the Western Cape and researched antiretroviral combination therapy. In 1997, he became head of the Department of Medicine at the New Somerset Hospital and associate professor at UCT.


President's Award - Exceptional Contributions to Medical Research

Professor Hoosen (Jerry) Coovadia - MRC

Prof. Hoosen (Jerry) Coovadia is currently a director at MatCH Health Systems (Maternal, Adolescent and Child Health). He is also the chairperson of the Board of the KZN Children’s Hospital Trust and a commissioner for the National Planning Commission for the Presidency of the Republic of South Africa. He also holds the title of emeritus professor of paediatrics and Child Health and emeritus Victor Daitz professor of HIV/Aids Research at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He has received a number of awards including the Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights (co-recipient with Judge Edwin Cameron), The Order of the Star of S.A for Contributions to Democracy & Health presented by former President Nelson Mandela, the 2013 Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the Lifetime Achievement Award from the HIV Congress in India, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Research Foundation.


President's Award - Exceptional Contributions to Promoting Global Medical Research

Doctor Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. (NIAID Director)

Dr Fauci, the director of NIAID oversees an extensive research portfolio of basic and applied research to prevent, diagnose, and treat infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, influenza, tuberculosis, malaria and illness from potential agents of bioterrorism. He was one of the architects of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which has already been responsible for saving millions of lives throughout the developing world. Dr Fauci has contributed enormously to our understanding of the pathogenesis and treatment of immune-mediated and infectious diseases. Dr Fauci has made seminal contributions to the understanding of how HIV destroys the immune system, making those infected with HIV susceptible to deadly infections, and he was instrumental in developing highly effective strategies for the therapy of patients living with HIV/AIDS, and has supported research into developing an HIV vaccine.

Steve Smith received award on behalf of Dr Anthony Fauci