UCL News


UCL academic receives prestigious global health award

19 October 2022

Professor Sir Alimuddin (Ali) Zumla (UCL Infection & Immunity) has been honoured by the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (RSTMH) for his world-leading contribution to global health.

Professor Sir Ali Zumla

Sir Ali was awarded the Sir Patrick Manson Medal, the society’s highest honour. The medal, given every three years, is open to “senior experts in their field and awarded to the living person whose contribution to any branch of tropical medicine or hygiene is considered … to merit the honour most.”

Sir Ali’s research, capacity development and advocacy work over 35 years has led to breakthroughs in tuberculosis, TB/HIV co-infections and other infectious diseases, as well as improvements in the health of disadvantaged populations.

He is internationally distinguished for initiating and leading major research, training and capacity-development partnerships between Europe, the US, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa. These multidisciplinary partnerships are focussed on respiratory tract infections, ranging from Covid-19 to TB, and other infectious diseases with epidemic potential, including zoonotic diseases (crossed over from animals to people).

For instance, Sir Ali is founder-director of a Europe-Africa network aimed at strengthening capacities to respond to infectious disease outbreaks across sub-Saharan Africa. Known as PANDORA-ID-NET, the network brings together researchers, public health and healthcare workers, and policymakers and takes a “one health” approach - where colleagues in human and animal health sectors collaboratively monitor, prepare for and tackle infectious diseases across continents.

UCL President & Provost, Dr Michael Spence, said: “Sir Ali has had a phenomenal impact in improving health services around the world and strengthening countries’ capacity to respond to infectious disease outbreaks. This award is a just reflection of his wide-ranging achievements.”

Sir Ali said: “I would like to dedicate this prestigious honour to all the amazing, committed people with whom I have had the enormous privilege to work with over the past four decades on a range of research, capacity development, training, advocacy, and charity activities focused on improving the lives and health of poor and disadvantaged populations worldwide.

“The Manson Medal is a subtle but timely reminder that, it is only through hard work and sacrifice, and by ‘holding hands and moving forward together beyond borders’ with ‘like-minded, selfless, and committed individuals’, as a pan-continental one-health family, we will be able to bring killer infectious diseases under control and ensure preparedness for future epidemics.”

Professor Moses Bockarie of The European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership, who nominated Sir Ali for the Manson Medal, said: “This is truly a historic and momentous occasion, since it is the first time in 100 years that the RSTMH has awarded the Sir Manson Medal to an ethnic minority scientist.”

Among his honours, Sir Ali was knighted in 2017 for services to public health and protection from infectious disease. In 2012 he was awarded Zambia’s highest civilian honour, the Order of the Grand Commander of Distinguished services - First Division.

In 2021, for the fourth consecutive year, Sir Ali was recognised as one of the world's top 1% most cited researchers.