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Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim

The Order of Mapungubwe in

Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim Awarded for:
Her outstanding work in the field of HIV, AIDS and tuberculosis (TB) research; and her role in health policy development that is placing South Africa on the international stage.

Profile of Prof. Quarraisha Abdool Karim

Prof. Quarraisha Abdool Karim is an academic, a mother and leader in HIV and AIDS research. She is stretching the boundaries of scientific excellence in her quest to curb the scourge of HIV and AIDS, particularly among young women in Africa. For her compassion, dedication and contribution to female-controlled HIV prevention methods, Prof. Abdool Karim received the Department of Science and Technology’s Distinguished Woman in Science Award in Life, Natural and Engineering Sciences for 2011.

Prof. Abdool Karim, who is the Associate Scientific Director of the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (better known as Caprisa), has made seminal contributions on the evolving epidemiology and prevention of HIV in women, ethics and human rights. She has been devoted to stemming the global AIDS epidemic for more than two decades; culminating in her recent scientific discovery that Tenofovir gel prevents HIV infection and genital herpes in women. This research, which produced the world’s first HIV protection technology for women, was ranked among the Top 10 Scientific Breakthroughs of 2010 by the prestigious journal, Science.

She has conducted critically important research on TB-HIV treatment, where the findings have served as the basis for the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) international policies and guidelines on TB and HIV co-treatment. She serves on several boards and is a commissioner of the KwaZulu-Natal Planning Commission. She is a consultant to the WHO, UNAIDS and the United Nations Development Programme on several AIDS related expert committees on gender, ethics, treatment, and research capacity-building.

Prof. Abdool Karim is an Honorary Professor in Public Health at the Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine of the University of KwaZulu-Natal and also an Associate Professor in Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia University in New York, USA. She is the director of the Columbia University-Southern African Fogarty AIDS International Training and Research Programme, which has contributed to postgraduate training of several 100 young South African scientists in HIV and TB research.

In addition to her research and capacity-building contributions, Prof. Abdool Karim has extensive policy experience that stems from her term as the first post-democracy National Director of the South African National HIV, AIDS and STD Programme. She is an editor of the Oxford Textbook of Public Health and HIV/AIDS in South Africa, the standard reference text for postgraduate studies in the field.

She has received numerous prestigious awards, including the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World’s Prize in Medical Sciences, the Olusegun Obasanjo Prize for Scientific Discovery and Technological Innovation from the African Academy of Sciences, and the cherished N’Galy-Mann Award for global contributions in HIV clinical research and the epidemiology of AIDS.