Durban-based researcher Professor Thumbi Ndung’u has been awarded a gold medal by the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) for his contributions to HIV and tuberculosis research.
Ndung’u a SANTHE director (Sub-Saharan African Network for TB/HIV Research Excellence), who runs a laboratory at the Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI) and holds a professorship at UKZN, was presented with the medal at the 2017 SAMRC Scientific Merit Awards gala dinner in Cape Town on Tuesday night.
The awards are among South Africa’s most prestigious. The gold medal is awarded each year to established scientists who have made key scientific contributions that have impacted on the health of people.
Ndung’u’s research focuses on designing a vaccine or cure strategy for two of South Africa’s major killer diseases, HIV and TB. He works to understand how the immune system fights off these diseases, and how these pathogens in turn evade or adapt to continuous immune pressure.
In a statement spokesperson for SANTHE, Kim Waddilove, said Ndung’u had made critical contributions to the understanding of how the immune system can partially control HIV, demonstrating how genetic and viral factors interact to determine patients’ outcomes.
“He has also identified viral genetic factors linked to HIV transmission and how the disease progresses.”South African Medical Research Council CEO and President Professor Glenda Gray hands Professor Thumbi Ndung’u his gold medal at the awards on Tuesday night.
Ndung’u said, “I am delighted to receive this award and recognition! In reality, this is an award not just for me but for my entire team. I am blessed to have had generous mentors, incredibly gifted colleagues and students that have made my research journey enjoyable and rewarding.”
Ndung’u is also the South African Research Chair in Systems Biology of HIV/Aids, a Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology Research Group Leader, Adjunct Professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, and the Scientific Director at UKZN’s HIV Pathogenesis Programme.