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Distinguished professors receive ASSAf Gold Medal for outstanding achievement

- Faculty Communications

ASSAf Science-for-Society Gold Medal

ASSAf annually awards ASSAf Science-for-Society Gold Medals for outstanding achievement in scientific thinking to the benefit of society. This year the awards were presented to two eminent scientists, Professor Shabir Madhi and Professor Barry Schoub at its Annual Awards Ceremony held virtually on 20 October 2021. 

Professor Shabir Madhi is Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences and Professor of Vaccinology at Wits University, and Director of the South African Medical Research Council Vaccines and Infectious Diseases Analytics Research Unit (Wits VIDA). He has been conducting clinical and epidemiological research for 25 years with a specific focus on the clinical and molecular epidemiology and prevention of pneumonia, meningitis, neonatal sepsis and diarrheal disease and has co-authored more than 500 scientific manuscripts since 1997, mainly on vaccine preventable diseases. He has in the past led studies on pneumococcal conjugate vaccine and rotavirus vaccine in Africa, which informed WHO recommendations on the use of these vaccines in low- and middle-income settings. He has also been the lead on studies investigating the clinical development of influenza, Group B streptococcus and respiratory syncytial virus vaccines for pregnant women aimed at protection of mother-infant dyad. Most recently, Prof Madhi has been at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19 and has led the first two COVID-19 vaccine studies undertaken in Africa. He has been involved in multiple epidemiological studies on COVID-19 in South Africa and through various forms of media, he is playing a crucial role in educating the public about the virus.

“It’s a wonderful recognition of the contributions of a highly talented team that I have the privilege of leading over the past 26 years. The VIDA team has and continues to undertake highly impactful translational research on epidemiology of vaccine preventable diseases, and contributed to the clinical development of vaccines against the leading respiratory pathogens causing suffering and death, most of which unfortunately occur on the African continent,” said Prof Madhi.

Professor Barry Schoub was Director of the National Institute of Virology and created the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in 2002. His exceptional track record of high impact publications on viral vaccines have made critically important scientific contributions to the development of a novel poliovirus vaccine and a rotavirus vaccine and played a key role in local manufacture of poliovirus vaccines in South Africa. He was the founding chair of the National Advisory Group on Immunisation of South Africa, served as initial Chair of the Polio Expert Committee and led the scientific board of the Poliomyelitis Research Foundation, which built the depth of expertise the country has in virology. He has had a truly impressive impact on viral diseases and vaccination in South Africa and he has guided the careers of many young virology scientists.

Prof Schoub is currently the Chair of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Covid-19 vaccines guiding South Africa’s vaccination programme.

South African Young Academy of Science

SAYAS was launched in October 2011 as a means to enable South Africa’s young scientists to fully participate in local and internationally relevant research and development agendas. It provides a national platform where leading young scientists from all disciplines in the country can interact, and also access international networking and career development opportunities.

Professor Thashree Marimuthu, Associate Professor in the Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology was inaugurated as a new member of SAYAS.