South African researcher, Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim, has been awarded the prestigious Christophe Merieux Prize for the year 2020. The half a million-euro ($551,000) award is presented every year by the Institut de France’s Christophe and Rodolphe Merieux Foundation to support research into infectious diseases in developing countries.
Over the past 30 years, Professor Quarraisha's research has focused on understanding the evolving HIV epidemic in Africa and its prevention among adolescent girls and young women.
The HIV researcher won the prize for her study that found that a gel of the anti-retroviral drug Tenofovir, was effective in reducing the risk of women catching HIV. The CAPRISA 004 Tenofovir gel trial has provided proof of concept that antiretroviral drugs prevent the sexual transmission of HIV infection and herpes simplex virus type 2 in women.
In response to the award, she noted that it is a great honor for the research to be recognized by the Christophe Meriuex Foundation. “Past recipients of this fairly recently established award are giants in their field and it is a privilege to follow in their footsteps. With this award, also comes an opportunity to continue advancing the research being done at CAPRISA expanding HIV prevention options for young women,” she added.
Currently, she is an infectious disease epidemiologist, and the Associate Scientific Director of the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. She has accordingly, served in various capacities in world bodies such as the World Health Organisation, UNAIDS, UNICEF, and other international organizations on AIDS policy matters.
The award was due to be presented in Paris in early June, but the ceremony was canceled because of the COVID-19.
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Article by Research Beeline correspondent