23 April 2013

South Africa: Scientist Wins Award for TB Research

South African scientist Valerie Mizrahi from the University of Cape Town's Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine has been awarded the Grand Prix Christophe Mérieux Prize by the Institute de France in Paris for her tuberculosis research.

The institute's Academy of Sciences presents the annual €500 000 (approximately R6-million) prize to talented scientists and for innovative research projects.

"What characterises Valerie Mizrahi's work is not only her excellent research on Mycobacterium tuberculosis and tuberculosis, but also her very active involvement in the tuberculosis community in South Africa, on the African continent and internationally," Academy of Sciences member, Pascale Cossart, said in a statement.

The award was announced last week, and the prize will be conferred to Mizrahi in Paris on 5 June.

Her work as a mentor to students engaged in TB research also contributed to winning the prize.

"Valerie's work is characterised by an incredible ability to engage with students in research, through supervising and coaching. The way she does this widely acknowledged," Cossart said.

"For me, the most gratifying part of it is that the award committee recognised my commitment to, and passion for, developing people," Mizrahi said. "I've trained so many young scientists - and this award is for them."

The prize money will be used to hire senior researchers with a focus on chemical biology and bioinformatics, as well as invest in laboratory equipment.

"Given the shortage of career opportunities for outstanding early-career who are interested in pursuing a career in biomedical research in South Africa, I believe this would be a great investment," she said.

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