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South African HIV researcher bags two awards

South African epidemiologist Quarraisha Abdool Karim has won two awards in one week for her groundbreaking HIV research.

The World Academy of Sciences and the Chinese computer company Lenovo honoured Abdool Karim with the TWAS-Lenovo Prize. The prize is given to scientists from the developing world who have excelled in their field.

She received US$100,000 at the TWAS annual general meeting on 26 October.

Bai Chunli, the president of TWAS, said Abdool Karim was honoured for her contribution to training young African scientists in HIV and tuberculosis research.

“She has an exemplary record of high-impact science, and there is a deep humanity to her work. She really is a model scientist, and a tremendous inspiration to colleagues across the world," Chunli said.

Abdool Karim also won South Africa’s Medical Research Council Gold Medal Scientific Achievement Award. She collected her prize at the MRC’s annual awards dinner in Cape Town on 30 October for her “contribution in raising the profile and impact of science in South Africa”.

Abdool Karim’s work in developing Tenofovir, a gel designed to reduce HIV infection among women, was singled out by both the MRC and TWAS.

She said: “With our contributions to this field, I think it adds an advantage to have this kind of acclamation. I feel very privileged and honoured.”

The Durban-based scientist has won three awards in two weeks. The Academy of Science of South Africa named her as one of the winners of the coveted ASSAf Science-for-Society Gold Medals on 13 October.