South African President Jacob Zuma recently awarded HIV Vaccine Trials Network researcher Dr. Glenda Gray a prestigious Order of Mapungubwe: Silver, the highest honor the nation bestows on its citizens. The award recognizes Gray's leadership and research in mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS, policy formation and advocacy.
Gray directs the HVTN Africa Programs and is one of the principal investigators on HVTN's executive management team. She is also an affiliate investigator in the Hutchinson Center's Clinical Research Division. Gray works in the perinatal HIV research unit at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, South Africa. She has been involved in HIV vaccine research in South Africa for more than a decade and was responsible for the initiation of the nation's first HIV vaccine trial.
The South African Medical Research Council said Gray's work has saved the lives of many children and improved quality of life for many others living with HIV/AIDS.
At the April 27 ceremony, Gray was one of three South African scientists who received National Orders. The award honors exceptional achievements that have international impact and serve South Africa's interests. It is named after Mapungubwe, an ancient African nation in what is now the northern part of South Africa. Since the recognition was instituted and awarded to former President Nelson Mandela in 2002, 29 people have received National Orders.