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Time’s most influential


Wits alumna Professor Glenda Gray (MBBCh 1986) has been named one of the 100 most influential people in the world, on Time magazine’s annual list.

Prof Gray is President and CEO of the South African Medical Research Council and Associate Professor in the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health at Wits. She is internationally acclaimed for her work in HIV research and has recently been elected chair of the Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases, a collection of the world’s largest public health research funding agencies.

Portrait of Professor Glenda Gray

In 1996, she and James McIntyre co-founded the Perinatal HIV Research Unit, based in Soweto. In 2002, they were awarded the Nelson Mandela Health & Human Rights Award for their work. In the mid-2000s she turned her attention to HIV vaccine research. She is now leading a team conducting the first HIV vaccine efficacy trial in seven years. It could result in the first HIV vaccine to be licensed globally.

Prof Gray received South Africa’s Order of Mapungubwe (Silver) in 2013 for her research in mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

Speaking at a Wits Health Sciences graduation ceremony last year, she said: “We need new minds and new innovations to address the collision of communicable and non-communicable diseases. We need to find solutions locally that can have global impact. You will deal with people who will die. You will diagnose promising young people with cancer, but you will also breathe life into people and give them treatment so that they can return to their families.”

She speaks about the HIV vaccine trial in this radio interview. In this video she delivers the keynote speech at a World AIDS Day event at Wits, giving a sense of how the response to HIV and AIDS has changed over the years.

  • Last year, Wits alumnus and palaeoanthropologist Professor Lee Berger (PhD 1994, DSc 2014) was on Time’s list.