Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim.
UKZN scientist and renowned researcher Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim has won the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World’s 2012 Prize for Medical Sciences ‘for her exceptional and distinguished contributions to HIV prevention and women's health’.
The Academy (TWAS) made the announcement during its 23rd General Meeting held in China recently.
TWAS awards are among the world’s most prestigious scientific prizes recognising scientific excellence in the developing world in the fields of agricultural sciences, biology, chemistry, earth sciences, engineering sciences, mathematics, physics and medical sciences. The prize includes an inscribed plaque, a certificate and an award of US$15 000.
Karim is Associate Scientific Director of the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA), Adjunct Professor of Public Health at the Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and Associate Professor in Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University in New York.
The TWAS award is in recognition of her significant scientific contributions spanning two decades of the HIV epidemic in southern Africa, especially her ground-breaking research on tenofovir gel as the first HIV prevention technology for women. This research, which was first presented at the International AIDS Conference in Vienna, was hailed by the Science journal as among the Top 10 Scientific Breakthroughs of 2010.
‘I am deeply humbled by the TWAS Prize in Medical Sciences. It has been an arduous but fascinating journey of scientific discovery for me,’ said Karim.
‘Every bit of the effort was worth it because the need for HIV prevention methods for women, especially in Africa, is critical and urgent. I hope my findings contribute to the dream of an AIDS-free generation and inspire today’s young scientists in Africa to pursue their dreams.’
Karim’s distinguished career is marked by her pivotal research achievements in HIV prevention at CAPRISA, her global leadership role as Co-chair of the NIH funded HIV Prevention Trials Network, and being Co-chair of the Scientific Programme of the 2012 International AIDS Conference held in Washington recently.
Professor George Gao of the Beijing Institute of Microbiology also received a TWAS Prize in Medical Sciences for his work on influenza.
* TWAS is an autonomous international organisation founded in 1983 in Trieste, Italy, by a distinguished group of scientists from the South under the leadership of the late Nobel Laureate, Abdus Salam of Pakistan. Officially launched by the Secretary-General of the United Nations in 1985, TWAS represents the best of science in developing countries with its main mission being to promote scientific excellence and capacity in the South for science-based sustainable development.