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LSHTM pays tribute to Professor Gita Ramjee

It was with great sadness that we learned of the death of Professor Gita Ramjee, Honorary Professor in the Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health at LSHTM on Tuesday 31 March.
Gita Ramjee

Gita Ramjee was a leading scientist in the field of HIV prevention and was very well known and highly respected for her research in this area. She was for many years Director of the HIV Prevention Trials Unit of the South African Medical Research Council in Durban, KwaZulu Natal. The unit carried out a long series of trials of HIV prevention tools, and Gita was principal investigator of many of these trials. These included trials of vaginal microbicides, products that it was hoped women could use to protect themselves against HIV infection. At the 2012 International Microbicides Conference in Sydney, Australia, Gita was given a Lifetime Achievement Award for her pioneering research in this area.

Gita was an inspirational role model for young scientists including women scientists in South Africa and beyond. In 2018, she was honoured with an Outstanding Female Scientist Award by the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership, for her work focused on finding new HIV prevention methods. She served on numerous national and international committees, was a member of the South African National AIDS Council and the Academy of Science of South Africa, and also held honorary professorships at the University of Washington, Seattle and the University of Cape Town. Gita had recently moved to a new position as Chief Scientific Officer, HIV Prevention at the Aurum Institute in South Africa, where she was responsible for the international portfolio of research on HIV.

Richard Hayes, Professor of Epidemiology & International Health at LSHTM, said: “It was a privilege and pleasure to work with Gita on the MDP301 vaginal microbicide trial on which she was a senior investigator and PI of the trial site in Durban. Gita was well known for the efficiency and quality of the trials that were run at her unit, and for the insights that she brought to the research. I was delighted when we were able to offer her an Honorary Professorship at LSHTM, a position that she has held for many years. She always tried to visit our School when in London, and gave a series of excellent talks centred on the extraordinarily high prevalence and incidence of HIV among young women in KwaZulu Natal, one of the worst affected regions anywhere in the world”. The last of these talks was delivered on 17 March 2020. The session was conducted virtually due to the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic in the UK and globally.

Peter Piot, Director of LSHTM, said: “I am deeply saddened to learn of Gita’s tragic passing. I have known Gita for many years and it is hard to overstate her ground-breaking scientific contributions and unwavering commitment to HIV prevention, particularly for women and girls in Africa. Gita’s death is an enormous loss for our School’s community and for the world – we will miss a world-renowned scientist, compassionate leader, and dear friend.”

Gita Ramjee has made an impressive contribution to the field of HIV prevention and will be sorely missed. LSHTM is proud to have been associated with her and we send our deep condolences to her family and friends all over the world.

Watch Gita Ramjee’s final LSHTM seminar ‘HIV: Diverse challenges among children and women in Asia and Africa’ (starts at 00.30.21).

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