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Dr Glenda Gray

The Order of Mapungubwe in

Dr Glenda Gray Awarded for:
Her excellent life-saving research in mother-to-child transmission of HIV and AIDS that has changed the lives of people in South Africa and abroad. Her work has not only saved lives of many children, but also improved the quality of life for many others with HIV and AIDS.

Profile of Dr Glenda Gray

Dr Glenda Gray was born on 14 December 1962 in Boksburg, Gauteng. She is a research professor and co-founder of the Perinatal HIV Research Unit at the University of Witwatersrand (Wits), based at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital. She is internationally recognised for her research in prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV, HIV vaccines, HIV among adolescents, HIV prevention, assessing sexual and other risk factors in HIV acquisition, fertility and reproduction in women in the context of HIV epidemics, and recently also microbicide.

She obtained her MBBCh degree from the Wits Medical School and completed a Fellowship in Paediatrics and Child Health at the Colleges of Medicine of South Africa. She has worked as medical officer at various South African hospitals, including Coronation and Chris Hani Baragwanath, as well as the Wits Department of Paediatrics and Neonatology.

She is currently executive director of the Wits Perinatal HIV Research Unit, and co-principal investigator and director of international programmes of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded HIV Vaccine Clinical Trial Network. Dr Gray’s research has contributed significantly to the understanding of HIV. Her research into post-exposure prophylaxis for PMTCT has led to the development of clinical guidelines that have been adopted internationally.

She has also been engaged in advancement of HIV vaccine research and has led the clinical development of South Africa’s first two HIV vaccines, the SAAVI DNA and MVA vaccines. She is the principal investigator at the Soweto Clinical Trials Unit, which has five clinical research sites funded by the NIH and are conducting research in HIV treatment and prevention. She is also the site investigator for Project Accept, a large multi-study community randomised trial funded by the National Institute of Mental Health that looks at the impact of behavioural interventions in reducing HIV incidences.

In 1999, Dr Gray received a Fogarty Training Fellowship at Columbia University in the US and completed an intensive training programme on clinical epidemiology at Cornell University, USA. Her awards include the Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights, along with James McIntyre, for pioneering work in PMTCT; the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care Hero of Medicine Award; and the Femina Woman of Nineties Award for her contribution to perinatal HIV research. She was also the co-recipient of the N’Galy-Mann Lectureship Award with McIntyre. She is a National Research Foundation A-rated researcher.

Dr Gray is a member of the Academy of Science and chairs its standing committee on health. She was elected into the US Institute of Medicine, National Academies, as a foreign associate in 2011. She was also elected as a fellow of the Academy of Microbiology and received an honorary doctorate in science from the Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada in 2012. Since 2003, Dr Gray has contributed three book chapters and 193 peer-reviewed articles. She is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of AIDS as well as AIDS Research and Treatment, and has reviewed numerous local and international journals. She is a member of the scientific steering committees for the International Congress on Drug Therapy and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), and chaired the IAVI Meeting in 2010.