The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) has called for nominations for the annual SAMRC Scientific Merit Awards.
Qualifying candidates are individual researchers who, through published work, made groundbreaking contributions to impactful excellent science and health research aimed at advancing the lives of South Africans.
The awards, which are among the most prestigious in the country, are a set of medals including platinum, gold, silver, bronze and the special President’s award, conferred at the discretion of the presiding SAMRC President.
According to the SAMRC President and CEO, Professor Glenda Gray, the awards recognise research that reflects innovative methods and employs a novel approach to public health concerns to potentially impact policy and better the lives of South Africans.
“In public health, the value of scholarly research and innovation cannot be overstated,” said Gray.
She believes that since the advent of COVID-19, science has been at the forefront of the country’s response, proving the importance of science and public health research in tackling infectious disease threats, both current and emerging.
“As we look ahead, science will provide the path to establish a system that is responsive to the health needs of our country, looking to develop manufacturing capability to bring vaccines, drugs and diagnostics to our continent,” Gray added.
According to the SAMRC, the platinum medals for a lifetime achievement award are conferred to scientists who have achieved outstanding accomplishments in the field of health.
Past recipients include the late Professors Bongani Mayosi, Salim Abdool Karim, Shabir Madhi and Linda-Gail Bekker.
In the last instalment, Professor Andre Kengne, a specialist physician with research interest in chronic non-communicable diseases, epidemiology, and prevention, received the platinum award.
Meanwhile, gold medals are awarded to established senior scientists who have made seminal scientific contributions that have influenced the health of people, especially those living in developing countries.
On the other hand, the silver medals are awarded to scientists who have made important scientific contributions to the country with an emphasis on capacity development.
In 2021, this award was conferred to Professors Diane Gray, Rabia Johnson, Marlo Möller and Dr Nasheeta Peer.
President’s awards are bestowed to scientists who have made an exceptional life-long contribution to medical research.
Recipients of this sought-after award include Professors Zena Stein, Carl Lombard, Linda Richter, Anthony Fauci, Hoosen Jerry Coovadia, Paul Van Helden, Lucille Blumberg, Ephraim Mokgokong, Debbie Bradshaw, former SAMRC President Professor Malegapuru William Makgoba, James “Jimmy” Volmink and Mike Sathekge.
In addition, more recently, Professor Koleka Mlisana, the country’s first black microbiologist with over 40 years of experience in health sciences was also honoured with the President’s award.