Eminent Scientist recognised for Exceptional Contribution to Science

2 September 2014

Internationally recognised scientist and academic Professor Salim Abdool Karim will receive the Royal Society of South Africa’s ‘most prestigious accolade’ the JOHN F.W. HERSCHEL MEDAL for 2014 at the Society’s Annual Awards Dinner in Cape Town on 2 September 2014.

The President of the Royal Society of South Africa, Professor Donald Cowan, explained that Professor Abdool Karim is receiving this medal for his, “exceptional multidisciplinary contribution to science in South Africa” and “marked global impact in the fight against AIDS”.

Professor Abdool Karim, a renowned HIV/AIDS researcher, is the Director of the Centre for the AIDS Program of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA), and Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He is also Professor of Clinical Epidemiology at Columbia University and Adjunct Professor of Medicine at Cornell University. He was also, until recently, President of the South African Medical Research Council. His research on HIV prevention and the treatment of HIV-TB co-infected patients have had a marked influence on international policy and approaches. 

The Royal Society commended Professor Abdool Karim in conferring him with their highest accolade, stating that “Few researchers in Africa, or globally, have been as influential and have had impact of such major consequence on both HIV prevention and treatment…We salute you and your substantial accomplishments.”

“I am honoured to be receiving this medal, which recognises 25 years of research on HIV. I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to have worked with many great researchers within South Africa and beyond its borders,” said Professor Abdool Karim, “It is a particularly humbling experience to work in a field that started off with so much pain and suffering and to witness today the benefits that science has brought in the way of new prevention and treatments that are saving lives”.

Professor Abdool Karim is the chairperson of the UNAIDS Scientific Expert Panel and scientific advisor to the Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). In addition he serves on the Scientific Advisory Board for Global Health of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Health Organisation (WHO) Expert Advisory Panel on Sexually Transmitted Infections and HIV. He has served on the PEPfAR Scientific Advisory Board and as Chair of the WHO Scientific Advisory Group on Reproductive Health. He is an elected Fellow of The World Academy of Sciences, the African Academy of Sciences, the Academy of Science in South Africa and the American Academy of Microbiology. He is a Foreign Associate Member of the US Institute of Medicine.