Durban scientist and researcher Professor Salim Abdool Karim, has received one of the highest international honours.

Durban - World-renowned Durban scientist and researcher Professor Salim Abdool Karim, has been elected to the American Institute of Medicine as a foreign associate in recognition of his pioneering contributions to research into HIV prevention and treatment.

Election to the institute is considered to be one of the highest international honours in the fields of medical sciences, health care and public health.

Karim is the director of the Centre for the Aids Programme of Research in SA (Caprisa), Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and was this year appointed president of the SA Medical Research Council.

He holds several academic positions, including Professor of Clinical Epidemiology at Columbia University, New York; Adjunct Professor of Medicine at Cornell University, New York, and is an Associate of the Ragon Institute of Massachusetts General Hospital, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University.

“I am humbled by this honour,” said Karim. “It’s wonderful to know that South African science on Aids is being recognised in this way.”

During his 30-year career, Karim has made several ground-breaking contributions in the control of infectious diseases, particularly Aids and tuberculosis. With his wife, Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim, herself, he reported the first HIV prevention technology for women.

This research on tenofovir gel, presented at the 2010 International Aids Conference in Vienna, was ranked as one of the top 10 scientific breakthroughs of 2010 by the journal, Science.

His research on HIV vaccines includes the testing and development, as patent co-inventor, of vaccines specifically developed for the type of HIV found in SA. His clinical research on TB-HIV treatment has shaped international World Health Organisation guidelines on the clinical management of co-infected patients.

“Dr Abdool Karim is an exceptional scientist whose work at the epicentre of the HIV and TB epidemics is transforming the way we treat and prevent these infections,” said Harvard University immunologist, Professor Bruce Walker.

“The Caprisa 004 tenofovir gel trial is a landmark study on preventing HIV transmission to women. This microbicide is a game-changing advance… ” - The Mercury