South African Epidemiologist Named as the 2016 L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Laureate for Africa and the Arab States

UKZN’s Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim was among five leading women scientists across five world regions and 15 promising young researchers who were honoured at the 18th edition of the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Ceremony at the Maison de la Mutualité in Paris.

In front of an audience which included Nobel Laureates, previous recipients of L’Oreal-UNESCO Laureate Awards, and some of the brightest scientific minds globally, Abdool Karim received the L’Oréal-UNESCO Women in Science award for Africa and the Arab States region.

The award was in recognition of her remarkable contribution to the prevention and treatment of HIV and associated infections and greatly improving the quality of life of women in Africa.

Abdool Karim was the co-Principal Investigator of the landmark CAPRISA 004 tenofovir gel trial which provided proof-of-concept that an antiretroviral microbicide can safely prevent HIV infections with consistent use of the product. The study was named by the journal Science as one of the Top 10 scientific breakthroughs in 2010. The study also provided the first evidence that an antiretroviral microbicide can prevent the risk of acquiring HSV-2 infection.

Her scientific and research contributions in understanding the evolving HIV epidemic span over 25 years and have made a profound impact on HIV treatment and prevention policies at a global level.

Nominated by more than 2 600 leading scientists, 2016’s five L’Oreal-UNESCO laureates were selected by an independent and international jury of 13 prominent scientists in the international scientific community.

The awards were presented by Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO and Jean-Paul Agon, Chairman and CEO of L’Oréal and Chairman of the L’Oréal Foundation who also officially launched the Manifesto For Women in Science  to draw attention to the under-representation of women in the sciences.

An advocate for social justice of adolescent girls and young women in Africa, Abdool Karim said she was deeply honoured and privileged to be recognised as a L’Oréal-UNESCO laureate.

I hope that this award inspires young women in Africa and the Middle East to pursue careers in science and technology as the world needs more women in science.  Our region needs more scientists addressing the many challenges that face us locally including ways to prevent HIV infection in adolescent girls and young women who continue to bear a disproportionate burden of HIV infection in the region.’

Congratulations Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim, you inspire generations of young African women scientists. 🙂