Anna Coutsoudis, a public health scientist who is a Professor in the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health at the Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, is renowned for the quality of her research, the global impact of her findings on exclusive breastfeeding, and her commitment to improving the lives of poor children. She has made groundbreaking contributions in the areas of the impact of vitamin A in lowering measles-related morbidity, and on the positive effect of vitamin A on the morbidity of infants born to HIV-positive mothers. She also established, for the first time, the association between non-exclusive breastfeeding and increased risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. She has looked at ways of making breastfeeding safer for HIV-exposed infants in communities.
Paul van Helden, Professor and Head of Molecular Biology and Human Genetics at the Stellenbosch University, has initiated major new directions in TB research, obtained funding, found local and international collaborators, co-ordinated and managed the projects – all in the interests of finding new tools to diagnose, treat and prevent one of the world’s most devastating diseases. Van Helden’s contribution towards the body of science is evidenced by his extensive list of publications, book chapters and patents. There are few South African scientists who have such an excellent record, particularly in so many high-impact journals. Van Helden has also been innovative in product development, as is evident from his patents and novel equipment items produced.