Helen Rees

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Professor Helen Rees "is executive director of the Reproductive Health and HIV Research Unit, the largest research unit of the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, where she is also an associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Helen received her medical degree and her Masters in Social and Political Sciences from Cambridge University, and in 2002 became an alumnus of Harvard Business School. With her background as a senior scientist and medical doctor, Helen has been appointed to numerous national and international statutory councils and committees. She was a contributing author of the 2007 National Strategic Plan for HIV/AIDS and STIs. She is the co-chair of the National Programme Implementation Committee of the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC), as well as the chair of SANAC’s HIV Research Prevention Committee. Helen completed a four year term in office as the chairperson of the Medicines Control Council and has served as a member of the Ministerial National Health Research Ethics Committee. She recently served on a committee of eminent scientists mandated by the South African Cabinet to evaluate South Africa’s Science Councils. Currently, she serves on the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization and the is the chairwoman of the IAVI International Clinical Trials Committee. She is on the international scientific advisory committees for the US National Institute of Health’s global networks for HIV Vaccine development and for Microbicide development. Helen is a member of the WHO/UNAIDS VAC committee on HIV vaccines, and of the WHO Expert Committee on HPV Vaccines. She has chaired WHO Advisory Committees on clinical trials and regulation of HIV vaccines, and on HPV vaccines in developing countries. Helen regularly serves as an adviser to the World Health Organization and to UNAIDS, and has chaired many WHO consultative meetings in the following fields: HIV vaccines, HPV vaccines, Contraception and HIV, female condoms, microbicides, and STIs/HIV. She is also often consulted for her expertise in drug regulation. She is a member of the International Working Group for HIV Prevention, a joint initiative between UNAIDS, WHO and the Gates Foundation. Helen was made an Officer of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in 2001 for her work in the international health sector. In 2003, she was awarded a Life Time Achievement award by Amanitare, a pan African partnership of women’s non-governmental organisations working in the field of women’s health and rights. In 2004 she became the first woman to be awarded the South African Distinguished Scientist award for her outstanding contribution to improving the quality of life of women. In 2006, Helen was also one of only a few women to be appointed to the South African Academy of Sciences. The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine has awarded her the prestigious 2010 Heath Clarke Lecture and appointed her as an Honorary Professor in 2009." [1]

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  1. Board, International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, accessed March 18, 2010.
  2. Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations Board, organizational web page, accessed April 10, 2020.