Prof Shabir Madhi is an NRF A-rated South African researcher of global standing. He has been conducting clinical and epidemiology research for 25 years, with a specific focus on the clinical and molecular epidemiology and prevention of pneumonia, meningitis, neonatal sepsis, and diarrheal disease. His is an outstanding example of the application of scientific thinking in the service of society.Madhi is Professor of Vaccinology and Director of the South African Medical Research Council Vaccines and Infectious Diseases Analytics Research Unit (Wits VIDA) at the University of the Witwatersrand. In January 2021, he was appointed Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of the Witwatersrand.Born in 1966, Madhi initially aspired to becoming an engineer but his bursary conditions only allowed him to study medicine. In 1990 he completed his undergraduate training at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, and six years later, became a fellow of the College of Paediatrics (FCPaeds (SA)). During this time, he applied for a post under Professor Keith Klugman, to work on vaccines for pneumonia. In 1998 he received a Master’s degree in Medicine (Paediatrics) and a PhD in 2003.
Prof Barry Schoub is an internationally renowned virologist who has had a truly impressive impact on viral diseases and vaccination in South Africa, Africa and globally. He obtained his undergraduate medical degree at Wits in 1967. In 1977, he received a United States Public Health Service international postdoctoral fellowship and was the first recipient of the James Gear International Postdoctoral Fellowship. In 1978, he was appointed as the first Professor and Head of the Department of Virology at Wits at the age of 33. He was Director of the National Institute of Virology and created the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in 2002, serving as its founding Executive Director until 2011.He is widely recognized as a world leader in Virology. His exceptional track record of high impact publications on viral vaccines have made critically important scientific contributions to the development of a novel poliovirus vaccine and a rotavirus vaccine and played a key role in local manufacture of poliovirus vaccines in South Africa. He served as initial Chair of the Polio Expert Committee and led the scientific board of the Poliomyelitis Research Foundation, which built the depth of expertise the country has in virology. He also spearheaded the establishment of the South African Field and Epidemiology Laboratory Training Program that prepares field epidemiologists to, amongst others, investigate outbreaks.