Professor Sir Alimuddin Zumla was awarded this prestigious, international recognition for his outstanding scientific contributions to solving the problems of the tropics
KUALA LUMPUR 29 JUNE 2021 – It was a slew of firsts as Professor Sir Alimuddin Zumla received his prize as the recipient of the 2020 Mahathir Science Award (MSA), the most prestigious international Science Award for Tropical Sciences. This is the first time a recipient of the award has received the prize in his home country. In previous years, the prize has been given out by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong in a private ceremony in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
This year’s prizegiving ceremony was also the first time the ceremony was broadcast live to the general public. In keeping with current global, and national requirements, the ceremony was carried out virtually, which is also a first.
Professor Sir Alimuddin Zumla has been awarded the Mahathir Science Award in Tropical Medicine in recognition of his outstanding contributions to global health, particularly in tropical infectious diseases. His research and capacity development work across multiple countries have allowed for improved health policy and outcomes for people suffering from tuberculosis, TB/HIV co-infections and infectious diseases with epidemic potential.
Sir Alimuddin, who was born and raised in Zambia, is currently a Professor of Infectious Diseases and International Health at University College London, UK and Consultant Infectious Diseases Physician at UCL Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK.
Utilizing his extensive experience in infectious diseases and global collaboration, he also played a role in initiating multidisciplinary collaborative research, capacity building, training and advocacy projects for COVID-19 with collaborators from China, Portugal, Italy, France, Ireland, Africa and Middle East.
In his acceptance speech for the award, Sir Alimuddin said that individual efforts do not win prizes and medals.
“Throughout my career, I’ve been fortunate enough to work with thousands of wonderful people worldwide. Thus, the Award of the very prestigious Mahathir Science Award to me, reflects the commitment, dedication and hard work of my research teams, collaborators and friends across the world,” he said.
Nominees for the Mahathir Science Award go through a rigorous selection process modelled on the Nobel Prize (scientific) selection procedures to ensure that the award is presented to the best candidate. The evaluation is performed by the Fellows of the Malaysian Academy of Sciences (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. They unanimously recommended Sir Alimuddin as the 2020 MSA Laureate. Sir Alimuddin joins the ranks of other MSA Laureates which include the late Prof. Yuan Longping, world-renowned agronomist known as the “The Father of Hybrid Rice”; Prof. Malik Peiris, the scientist who first
isolated the SARS virus and; Prof. Rita Colwell, globally recognised environmental microbiologist and the first ever female director of former the United States’ National Science Foundation.
MSA Laureates receive USD100,000, a solid gold medal and a certificate as their prize. This year, award was presented to Sir Alimuddin by Mr. Zahid Rastam, Charge d’ Affaires of the High Commission of Malaysia in London, on behalf of the Mahathir Science Award Foundation.