Royal Society honour for SA Aids researcher

The London based Royal So ciety was established in 1660 by royal charter and has included many of the world's leading scientists over the past four cen turies, from Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin to Albert Ein stein and Stephen Hawking. Fellowship of the Royal Soci ety is awarded to an individual who made a "substantial con tribution to the improvement of natural knowledge, including mathematics, engineering sci ence and medical science".

Abdool Karim joined about 40 leading scientists globally who were inducted as fellows of the oldest academy at a ceremo ny in London. He is the director of the Centre for the Aids Pro gramme of Research in South Africa Caprisa , and Caprisa professor of global health at the Maliman School of Public Health at Columbia University in New York.

Abdool Karim is pro vice chancellor research at the Uni versity of KwaZulu Natal, and one of the three current fellows of the Royal Society.

On his return on Monday, Abdool Karim said the "enor mity of the occasion of the Royal Society hits you when you have to go up during the induction to sign the book".

This is the same book that was signed back in 1660 by Sir Christopher Wren and others who founded the Royal Society.

"I felt truly humbled to be in such august company and I know that I could never have achieved this without the amazing people who I work with, both in Caprisa, and our many collaborators," said Ab dool Karim.

Abdool Karim's leadership was hailed in a 2014 Nature Medicine article as "one of South Africa's undisputed lead ers in clinical research", and he has been credited with turning around a "moribund" Medical Research Council with "vision ary leadership".

He chairs both the UNAids Scientific Expert Panel and WHO strategic and technical advisory group on HIV.

In October 2017 he, together with his wife, Prof Q_uarraisha Karim, an NRF A rated scientist and infectious disease epidemi ologist, were awarded the es teemed Institute for Human Vi rology Lifetime Achievement Award for exceptional public service for their contribution to the global Aids response.