South Africa Honors
Mailman School Dean Linda P. Fried announced an endowed chair for Salim Abdool Karim, director of CAPRISA, the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa, last week during a trip to South Africa, Lesotho, and Swaziland—three of the five countries with the greatest per capita HIV infection rates in the world. Seeking to strengthen research and training partnerships to combat infectious disease in the region, Dean Fried met with academic and governmental leaders and visited ICAP-supported clinics in Lesotho and Swaziland with Wafaa El-Sadr, ICAP’s director and university professor of epidemiology.
For CAPRISA, the visit coincided with a Celebration of Excellence honoring years of achievement at this highly regarded research institute. The product of a collaboration between the Mailman School and four South African institutions, CAPRISA was founded in 2002 to conduct research in HIV pathogenesis, prevention, and epidemiology, and to explore the links between tuberculosis and AIDS care. Credited with some of the most important advances against the sub-Saharan pandemic, CAPRISA was built on the model of the Southern African AIDS International Training and Research Program (AITRP), whose fellows enjoy support from the National Institutes of Health Fogarty International Center.
Established in 1994, the Fogarty AITRP was initially led by Zena Stein, professor of epidemiology at the Mailman School. In 1999, Salim Abdool Karim became the program’s primary investigator. Since 2005, that role has been held by Quarraisha Abdool Karim, CAPRISA’s associate scientific director. Both Karims are members of the Mailman School’s epidemiology department, which will be the institutional home of Salim Abdool Karim’s chair, the CAPRISA Professorship of Global Health.
More than 500 fellows have been trained through the Fogarty AITRP, which has been crucial in efforts to build TB and AIDS capacity in South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, and Namibia. Almost all the large AIDS research units in South Africa are led by or have senior scientists who have been Fogarty AITRP trainees. A number of long-term trainees have joined CAPRISA and are currently part of that organization’s senior management.
In remarks about Salim Abdool Karim at the CAPRISA Celebration, Dean Fried said, “As a scientist, you have contributed foundational studies of HIV prevention, pathogenesis, and co-infection. As an educator, you have communicated scientific findings so audiences would understand them without fear, stigma, or bias. As a leader, you have made CAPRISA a source of knowledge that has advanced South Africa’s progress against HIV and tuberculosis.”
In addition to Dean Fried’s keynote address on opportunities and challenges in improving global health, the CAPRISA celebration featured the South African National Research Foundation’s announcement that Quarraisha Abdool Karim had received its highest ranking. Abdool Karim, who was recently described by the South Africa Times as “South Africa’s rock star scientist,” is only the second black woman ever in South Africa to get an A-rating.
During her visit, Dean Fried also visited the eThekwini Clinic, which is located in central Durban, adjoining the largest government outpatient TB facility in Durban, the Prince Cyril Zulu Communicable Disease Centre. The facility provides free diagnosis and treatment for 8,000 patients with TB every month. TB and HIV infection are individually major global public health concerns but the two intertwined epidemics are a devastating and deadly combination, responsible for more deaths than any other condition in South Africa.