Durban, South Africa. Professor Salim S. Abdool Karim has been named a recipient of the prestigious Al-Sumait Prize for research contributions to African Development. The award, comprising $500,000 and a gold medal, will be handed to Abdool Karim by the Amir of Kuwait at an awards ceremony to be held on 5th December in Kuwait. The Al-Sumait prize “recognizes the best studies, scientific projects, applied research, and innovative initiatives that have a significant impact and lasting influence on advancing progress to economic and social development in Africa”.

The award was established by His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the Amir of the State of Kuwait, in 2013 and is named after the late Dr Abdulrahman Al-Sumait, a Kuwaiti medical doctor who dedicated his life to raising funds to support humanitarian and charity work for health, education and food projects for the less fortunate in African Nations. The Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS) and a Board of Trustees oversee the prize. The two other awardees for 2018, Professor Sheila West of Johns Hopkins University and the Rakai Project Research Team of Uganda, will each receive $250,000 and medals.

Professor Abdool Karim, who is the Director of the Durban-based Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA), Pro Vice-Chancellor Research at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and CAPRISA Professor of Global Health at Columbia University, New York, is renowned for his seminal scientific contributions in HIV prevention and treatment.   He was co-leader of the CAPRISA 004 tenofovir gel trial that provided proof-of-concept that antiretrovirals can prevent sexually transmitted HIV infection and herpes simplex virus type 2 in women. His clinical research on TB-HIV treatment has shaped international guidelines on the clinical management of co-infected patients. He is co-inventor on patents that have been used in several HIV vaccine candidates and in passive immunisation strategies with broadly neutralising antibodies.

A leading figure in global HIV policy, Professor Abdool Karim Chairs the UNAIDS Scientific Expert Panel and the World Health Organization’s (WHO) HIV Strategic and Technical Advisory Committee. He is also a member of the WHO’s TB-HIV Task Force. “I am honoured and humbled to a recipient of this prize. It is really a recognition for the hundreds of scientists who have toiled many hours in their laboratories, clinics and communities in undertaking studies with me over the last 30 years. I am deeply thankful to the thousands of individuals who have participated in these studies – none of this could have been achieved without their dedication and commitment”.

Professor Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, Nobel Prize Laureate for discovering HIV, congratulated him on receiving this award, saying “this is a well-deserved recognition for Professor Abdool Karim for his excellent research that has made a major impact on the HIV epidemic in Africa”.

Smita Maharaj