Joint Research Office


Prestigious international infectious diseases award for UCLH consultant

19 August 2020

UCLH Biomedical Research Centre supported Consultant Infectious Diseases Physician Professor Sir Alimuddin (Ali) Zumla has been awarded the 2020 Mahathir Science Award, the most prestigious international science award presented in recognition for the best scientific work in solving priority health problems in the tropics.

Sir Ali’s research, capacity development and advocacy work over 30 years has led to breakthroughs in tuberculosis, TB/HIV co-infections and infectious diseases with epidemic potential, as well improvement in the health of disadvantaged populations. Sir Ali, also Professor of Infectious Diseases and International Health at UCL, has conceived, set up and driven forward numerous global initiatives across continents including a ONE-HUMAN-ANIMAL-HEALTH network.

The Mahathir Science Award is awarded jointly by the Mahathir Science Award Foundation and Academy of Sciences Malaysia – and Sir Zumla will receive $100,000.00, a gold medal, and certificate at a ceremony to be held in Malaysia early 2021.

Nominees for the Mahathir Science Award go through a rigorous selection process modeled 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 and by an International Advisory Panel which 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.

Professor Datuk Dr Asma Ismail, President of the Academy of Sciences Malaysia, said: “Sir Alimuddin has proved time and time again that his mission is to serve the world through his research and global collaborative efforts. Our decision to award Sir Alimuddin the award was unanimous.”

Sir Ali said: “I feel extremely honoured and truly humbled to have been recognized by such an illustrious selection committee as the recipient of the prestigious 2020 Mahathir Science Award.

“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 Zumla was nominated by Professor Jamshed Bomanji at UCLH, with whom Sir Zumla has collaborated with on research projects on application of PET/CT imaging for improved diagnosis and management of infectious diseases. Professor Bomanji said: “This award is fantastic news. Ali has served UCLH and UCL with great distinction over 27 years – as a clinician, researcher, mentor, leader and more – which is why I nominated him for this award.” 

Professor Bryan Williams, UCLH Director of Research and the UCLH NIHR Biomedical Centre said: “I’m absolutely delighted Ali has received this very prestigious award which is richly deserved and is testament to his ground breaking work over many years spanning disciplines, institutions and nations. He has had a truly fantastic global impact and is a huge credit to UCLH and UCL.”