Posted on March 23, 2023
The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) has recognised three researchers from the University of Pretoria's Faculty of Health Sciences at the 09th SAMRC Scientific Merit Awards ceremony on 09 March 2023.
Prof Ameena Goga, pediatrician and a consultant in the Department of Paediatrics, at the Steve Biko Hospital, at the University of Pretoria, received a Gold Medal, which is a Scientific Excellence Award conferred to established senior scientists who have made seminal scientific contributions that have impacted the health of people, especially those living in developing countries.
Professor Goga's research includes preventing vertical HIV transmission (especially breastmilk HIV transmission); preventing maternal HIV acquisition, and developing models/systems to improve maternal and child health at all health system levels, including systems to monitor long-term health outcomes.
Professor in the Department of Immunology, Prof Theresa Rossouw, was awarded the Silver medal for her scientific contributions that impacted people's health, especially those in developing countries. The award is conferred to mid-career scientists for their contributions within ten years of being awarded their Ph.D.
Her focal research areas are HIV infection, especially drug resistance, systemic immune activation, and immunothrombosis, as well as COVID-19, especially immunopathology and Long COVID. She also works in biomedical and research ethics and is particularly interested in autonomy and vulnerable populations.
A delighted Prof Rossouw said she was deeply honoured to receive the award. "My hope has always been to make a difference in the lives of the people of our country, and I am so grateful that I have been given the opportunity to conduct research in the field of HIV, which continues to devastate the lives of so many people," she added.
"As a researcher, one faces many challenges and setbacks, but this award proves that passion, perseverance, and hard work will prevail. It is also a reminder that it takes a village, and I am incredibly grateful to the guidance of my mentor, Prof Ronald Anderson, and the support of my colleagues, family, and friends".
Professor Tivani Mashamba-Thompson, a professor of diagnostics research and Deputy Dean of Research and Postgraduate studies at the Faculty of Health Sciences, received the Bronze Medal, awarded to young scientists with distinct and evident scientific and leadership potential.
Prof Mashamba-Thompson is also a co-Director of Marti TB Diagnostics Pty (Ltd) and Lead PI of the [email protected] research group at the University of Pretoria. Her expertise and focal research areas include the implementation of point-of-care diagnostics for resource-limited settings and underserved populations.
An excited Professor Mashamba-Thompson said she was honoured to be one of the 2022 winners of the SAMRC Scientific Merit Awards, which are offered in recognition of excellence in health research.
" I believe that the leadership that my colleagues and I demonstrated during the most dangerous times of the pandemic by leading community-based research studies to help create evidence to guide the COVID-19 pandemic response is being well recognised" she said.
"This award is a recognition of the significant contribution that I have made to the development of my country. It encourages me to lead with purpose, build capacity in my area of research through the [email protected] and conduct high-quality research that leads to societal impact".
The hybrid event had a small in-person audience at SAMRC's head office in Parrow, Cape Town, and some of the audience connected virtually to celebrate the scientific excellence and contributions of outstanding medical scientists whose work has significantly impacted the lives of South Africans.
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