Connect with us

UKZN Guide

UKZN Medical School Honours Its Living Legends



UKZN Medical School Honours Its Living Legends

UKZN Medical School Honours Its Living Legends. The Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) recently celebrated the extraordinary contributions of four of its distinguished alumni, recognizing them as Living Legends. These individuals have made remarkable strides in science, medicine, and public health leadership, significantly impacting the battle against devastating pandemics like TB, HIV, and COVID-19, as well as advancing the treatment of various musculoskeletal diseases.

The honorees included Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi, South Africa’s Minister of Home Affairs and former Health Minister; Professors Salim Abdool Karim and Quarraisha Abdool Karim, renowned scientists from the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA); and Professor Girish Mody, a former Head of UKZN’s Department of Rheumatology. The fifth prestigious Living Legends event featured these trailblazers in a live panel discussion moderated by media personality Ms. Nongcebo Vukile McKenzie, where they shared their groundbreaking journeys in science.

Read Also: UKZN Status Check Online 

Celebrating Excellence in Science and Medicine

The event drew a diverse audience, including academics, industry leaders, professional staff, and medical students from all years. They gathered to honor the Living Legends, posing thought-provoking questions and expressing admiration for their leadership and achievements.

Professor Busi Ncama, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the College of Health Sciences, welcomed the attendees, emphasizing that the Living Legends event not only elevated UKZN’s profile but also highlighted South Africa’s position as a leader in research excellence. She commended Professor Ncoza Dlova, Dean and Head of the School of Clinical Medicine, for initiating the Living Legends series in 2021, noting that it brings well-deserved recognition to extraordinary individuals who often remain unsung heroes.

Profiles of the Honorees

Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi

Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi, a former president of the Medical School’s student representative council, has had a profound impact on South Africa’s health policies. Appointed as Minister of Home Affairs in 2019 after serving as Health Minister from 2014 to 2019, Motsoaledi is also a member of the African National Congress’s National Executive Committee. He attributed his leadership skills to his experiences as a medical student in the 1980s, a time marked by political turmoil and the struggle for equitable healthcare access.

Professor Salim Abdool Karim

Professor Salim Abdool Karim is a globally recognized clinical infectious diseases epidemiologist, known for his contributions to AIDS and COVID-19 research. He serves as UKZN’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research, Director of CAPRISA, and a Professor of Global Health at Columbia University. As a Special Advisor on pandemics to the WHO Director-General and a member of numerous prestigious scientific boards, Karim has published over 500 journal articles and co-edited three epidemiology textbooks. He stressed the importance of evolving health promotion and communication strategies to prevent new infections in ongoing pandemics.

Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim

Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim, born in Tongaat, KwaZulu-Natal, exemplifies how one’s origins do not limit potential achievements. An infectious diseases epidemiologist, she is the co-founder and Associate Scientific Director of CAPRISA, UKZN’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for African Health, and a Professor in Clinical Epidemiology at Columbia University. Holding numerous prominent positions, including President of the World Academy of Sciences, she has made significant contributions to public health. She encouraged the audience to seek mentors, appreciate those who opened doors for them, and embrace academic scrutiny to enhance research quality.

Professor Girish Mody

Professor Girish Mody, a world-renowned rheumatologist, has dedicated his career to advancing the treatment of rheumatic diseases in Africa. As a former president of the African League Against Rheumatism and a significant figure in international rheumatology, Mody has focused on medical education and promoting rheumatology across the continent. His research and academic activities have shed light on rheumatic diseases in black Africans and driven rheumatology education.

Honoring Dedication and Leadership

The event concluded with the presentation of lifetime awards to the Living Legends by Professor Dlova, who also received a surprise award for her contributions to the Medical School during challenging times. Attendees enjoyed a musical performance by Mr. Tyrell Pillay, a multi-talented final-year medical student.

In her closing remarks, Professor Dlova expressed gratitude to the Living Legends for sharing their wisdom, highlighting the importance of nurturing medical students’ talents and potential to cultivate future leaders in healthcare.


The Living Legends event at UKZN Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine showcased the exceptional achievements of its alumni, reinforcing the institution’s commitment to excellence in medical education and research. Through honoring these trailblazers, UKZN not only celebrated their contributions but also inspired the next generation of medical professionals to pursue their own impactful journeys in science and medicine.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *