Professor Sir Alimuddin Zumla receives the 2020 Mahathir Science Award

20 Aug 2020

It is with great pleasure that we share the news that Sir Alimuddin Zumla, Professor of Infectious Diseases and International Health at University College London, Consultant Infectious Diseases Physician at UCL Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, recipient of the RSTMH Donald Mackay and Chalmers Medals and RSTMH member for over 40 years, has been awarded the 2020 Mahathir Science Award (MSA), the most prestigious international Science Award for Tropical Sciences.

The MSA is a distinguished award bestowed by the Mahathir Science Award Foundation upon researchers or institutions who have made internationally recognized scientific breakthroughs in pioneering tropical research which have brought greater positive impacts to society in the fields of Tropical Medicine, Tropical Agriculture, Tropical Architecture and Engineering and Tropical Natural Resources.

Sir Alimuddin was nominated for the award by Professor Jamshed Bomanji of UCL Hospitals after he read about the MSA in the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene newsletter.

“I strongly believe that as scientists, we need to be intimately involved in research, aligned with training, capacity development and advocacy efforts, so that we can have an impact for generations to come, and sustain the progress we make. We need to look beyond the normal and be involved in innovative and impactful research projects that will be beneficial for the future.”

Sir Alimuddin Zumla

Sir Alimuddin’s research and capacity development work over 30 years have allowed for breakthroughs in Tuberculosis, TB/HIV co-infections and Infectious Diseases with Epidemic potential, as well as improved health of disadvantaged populations globally.

Sir Alimuddin was selected as the recipient of this award on basis of his illustrious career in infectious diseases and tropical medicine. He established, and directs, a multi-continent network with several African, Middle Eastern, European and American institutions on high quality priority research aligned closely to capacity development and training programs and his has truly had major impact beyond academia.

Mahathir Science Award winners receive USD100,000.00, a Gold Medal, and a Certificate.

“I have always believed that impact on the community and disadvantaged populations should be the driving force underlying any research and I hope that it will encourage my peers and the younger generation scientists to focus on more impact-driven research initiatives to advance the tropical field, be it in the area of medicine, agriculture, architecture, engineering, natural resources, animal or environmental health.”

Sir Alimuddin Zumla

Nominees for the Mahathir Science Award go through a rigorous selection process modelled on the Nobel Prize (scientific) selection procedures in order to ensure that the award is presented to the best candidate. The evaluation is performed by the Fellows of Academy of Science Malaysia (Akademi Sains Malaysia) and by an International Advisory Panel. This year, the panel consisted of Nobel Laureate Professor Barry Marshall, previous MSA laureates Emeritus Professor John Sheppard Mackenzie and Professor Alan Cowman, and the former Director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine Professor Sir Andrew Haines. In deliberating they took into consideration several factors including originality of work, innovation, impact and its significance in solving the health problems of the tropics by improving the quality of life and contributing to the region’s prosperity.

“Sir Alimuddin has proved time and time again that his mission is to serve the world through his research and global collaborative efforts. His work focuses on improving global health, with an emphasis on assisting poorer and disadvantaged peoples of the world. Our decision to award Sir Alimuddin the award was unanimous. We could not think of a better recipient for this year’s Mahathir Science Award.”

Akademi Sains Malaysia president, Professor Datuk Dr Asma Ismail