A WORLD-RENOWNED scientist whose career began in Sunderland has received a lifetime achievement award for her life-saving research.
Dr Gita Ramjee, head of Aids Research at the South African Medical Research Council (MRC), graduated from the University of Sunderland in 1980 with a degree in chemistry and physiology.
Now she has been honoured by her peers at the 2012 International Microbicide conference in Sydney, Australia.
Dr Ramjee was accompanied by husband Pravin, whom she met during her time on Wearside.
“It is a great honour to receive this award, given that I have spent most of my working life on HIV prevention,” said Dr Ramjee, who now lives in South Africa.
The Lifetime Achievement Award for microbicide research is only made to those who have made a sustained contribution to the field of HIV prevention.
Dr Ramjee has made major contributions to global scientific knowledge in the field for almost 20 years and has been directly involved in testing more than seven different candidate microbicides – compounds or substances whose purpose is to make viruses and bacteria less infective.
MRS President Professor Abdool Karim said: “She has been at the forefront of clinical trials to test microbicides, an HIV prevention strategy that seeks to empower women.
“Dr Ramjee’s contributions, and that of her MRC research team, to this field of AIDS prevention, have brought great honour to South African science.”
Commenting on her time as an undergraduate, she said: “I loved my time in Sunderland. The community was extremely friendly and helpful.
“I loved the student life as we mixed with people from all disciplines which I think was a big plus. We worked hard but had a lot of fun too especially in the first two years.
“Our lecturers were amazing and extremely accommodating and willing to go the extra mile to assist you after class.
“I also met my husband in Sunderland and we have two children who both graduated in the UK and are now living there.