Pandemic expert Abdool Karim to receive honorary doctorate

Professor Abdool Karim, special advisor on pandemics to the director-general of World Health Organisation, will receive an honorary doctorate from the Durban University of Technology’s (DUT) faculty of health and sciences.

Karim is South Africa’s leading epidemiologist and infectious diseases specialist. The honorary doctorate will be conferred on the last day of the DUT 2023 autumn graduation ceremony to be held at the Olive Convention Centre in Durban on May 31.

Karim is the director of the Centre for the Aids Programme of Research in South Africa, and professor for global health in the department of epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University.

He also serves as an adjunct professor of immunology and infectious diseases at Harvard University, Boston, adjunct professor of medicine at Cornell University, New York, and pro vice-chancellor (Research) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

He is also the former Covid-19 advisory committee chairperson and has previously served as president of the South African Medical Research Council.

The DUT will acknowledge Karim for his exceptional contributions in the global health environment and his outstanding service to humanity. Later in the evening of graduation day, the university will host a celebratory gala dinner to honour him.  

“As a distinguished health expert, prof Abdool Karim has played a leading role in the HIV/Aids and the Covid-19 pandemics,” said DUT media officer Simangele Zuma in a statement.

“His expertise has extensively contributed to the HIV/Aids prevention and treatment, as well as the Covid-19 response, thereby saving many lives.”

During the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, Karim was chosen to lead the 41-member ministerial advisory committee on Covid-19, which provided guidance for government’s response to the pandemic.  

He played a critical role in providing the public and government with scientific advice on the coronavirus, how it causes Covid-19 and the measures for preventing infection.

Together with Dr Anthony Fauci, Karim was honoured with the 2020 John Maddox Prize for Standing up for Science, acknowledging their critically important roles in the fight against Covid-19 pandemic.   

He attended the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s medical school late in the 70s while he was simultaneously studying computer science and statistics at Unisa.

In 1983, he was awarded a master’s degree focusing on epidemiology at Columbia University in New York. He returned to the University of KwaZulu-Natal to complete his master’s degree in public health medicine and his PhD.   

To date, the award-winning Karim has published more than 500 journal articles, 12 book chapters, co-edited three books and holds six patents.

He is ranked among the world’s most highly cited scientists by Web of Science.  

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