Call for 2021 SAMRC Scientific Merit Awards nominations

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) has issued a call for nominations for the annual 2021 SAMRC Scientific Merit Awards, which seek to honour the best scientific minds and contributions within health research.

Qualified candidates are individual researchers who, through their published work, made ground-breaking contributions to impactful world-class science and health research aimed at advancing the lives of South Africans.

The awards, which are among the most prestigious in the country, are a set of medals including platinum, gold, silver, bronze and the special President’s awards.

The past platinum medal recipients for Lifetime Achievement include the late Professor Bongani Mayosi, Professors Valerie Mizrahi, Salim Abdool Karim, Dan Stein, Gregory Hussey, Robin Wood, Shabir Madhi, Eric Bateman, Maureen Coetzee, Charles Feldman and Keertan Dheda.

In the last instalment, Professors Heather Zar and Linda-Gail Bekker scooped this award.

Zar is the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health at Red Cross Children’s Hospital Chair and Director of the SAMRC’s Unit on Child and Adolescent Lung Health.

“Her work focused on childhood pneumonia, tuberculosis, asthma and HIV-associated disease has had a global impact on strategies for diagnosis, prevention and treatment,” said SAMRC.

Bekker is a Professor of Medicine at the University of Cape Town and holds the positions at the Desmond Tutu Health Foundation and the Director of the Desmond Tutu HIV Centre.

Her doctoral work focused on the host response to tuberculosis both with and in the absence of HIV co-infection.

Last year’s President’s award was conferred to Professors James “Jimmy” Volmink and Mike Sathekge.

Volmink is the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences and Professor in the Department of Global Health at Stellenbosch University.

His areas of expertise are clinical epidemiology and evidence-based medicine, with special contributions during a career extending over more than three decades.

Sathekge is Professor and Head of the Nuclear Medicine Department at the University of Pretoria and Steve Biko Academic Hospital.

According to the SAMRC President and CEO, Professor Glenda Gray, the awards recognise research that reflects innovative methods and employs a novel approach to public health concerns to potentially impact on policy and subsequently for the betterment of the lives of South Africans.

“In public health, the value of scholarly research and innovation cannot be overstated,” said Gray, adding that since the advent of the COVID-19, science has been at the forefront of the country’s response – once again proving the importance of science and public health research in tackling infectious disease threats, both current and emerging.

Eligible candidates for all categories of the SAMRC Scientific Merit Awards will be chosen through an open, public nomination process, as well as an SAMRC Awards Nominations Committee.

Nominations will open from 15 September and will close on 31 October 2021. –

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