Former SAMRC President inducted into the Royal Society in London, alongside Newton, Darwin and Einstein

Professor Salim Abdool Karim, Director of the HIV-TB Pathogenesis and Treatment Research Unit, one of the Extramural Research Units at the South African Medical Council (SAMRC), has been elected as a Fellow of the prestigious Royal Society in London. He was amongst the 40 leading scientists globally who were inducted as fellows at a ceremony held in London recently.  

Established in 1660, this is the world’s oldest science academy that has included many of the world’s leading scientists over the past four centuries. Abdool Karim’s name will now be written in the history books alongside world renowned scientists such as Sirs Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein to mention a few.

Also Director and Co-Founder of the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA), a close associate-organisation of the SAMRC, Abdool Karim was recognised for his immense research contributions in HIV prevention and treatment in South Africa and by extension in Africa and abroad.

To qualify for a Royal Society Fellowship, an individual must have made a substantial contribution to the improvement of natural knowledge, including mathematics, engineering science and medical science.

In response, Abdool Karim attributed this milestone to his colleagues at CAPRISA  and the many other collaborators that he has worked with. “I am deeply humbled by the honour and am thankful to my many colleagues and collaborators who helped me achieve this. I hope this helps to inspire more scientists in Africa to persevere in their pursuit of scientific excellence,” he said.

SAMRC’s President and CEO, Prof Glenda Gray who also has a long history on HIV / Aids research relating to the prevention of mother to child transmission, welcomed the news and congratulated Abdool Karim. “Prof Abdool Karim has made significant contributions to the medical field in South Africa and globally, this achievement is well deserved,” said Gray.

Abdool Karim’s journey as an HIV / Aids crusader has seen him gather accolades including but not limited to: chairperson of both the UNAIDS Scientific Expert Panel and the World Health Organization (WHO) strategic and technical advisory group on HIV and being a member of the WHO TB-HIV task force.

He is also an elected member of the US National Academy of Medicine and the American Academy of Microbiology. His many awards include the African Union’s Kwame Nkrumah Continental Scientific Award.

In October 2017, he, together with his wife, Prof Quarraisha Abdool Karim, an NRF A-rated scientist and infectious disease epidemiologist, were awarded the esteemed Institute for Human Virology Lifetime Achievement Award for exceptional public service for their contribution to the global Aids response.