Professor Sir Alimuddin ZumlaThis prestigious international award is presented annually in recognition for the best scientific work in solving the health problems of the Tropics

The recipient of the 2020 Mahathir Science Award (MSA), the most prestigious international Science Award for Tropical Sciences, is Professor Sir Alimuddin Zumla, Professor of Infectious Diseases and International Health at University College London, UK; Consultant Infectious Diseases Physician at UCL Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, London. UK.

Sir Alimuddin’s research and capacity development work over 30 years have allowed for breakthroughs in Tuberculosis, TB/HIV co-infections and Infectious Diseases with Epidemic potential, as well as improved health of disadvantaged people.

Sir Alimuddin was selected as the recipient of this award on basis of his illustrious career in infectious diseases and tropical medicine. He established and directs a multi-continent collaboration with several African, Middle Eastern, European and American institutions on collaborative research aligned closely to capacity development and training programs and his research has truly had major impact beyond academia.

Mahathir Science Award winners receive USD100,000, a Gold Medal and a Certificate.


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 (Akademi Sains Malaysia) and by an International Advisory Panel. This year, the panel 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.


Akademi Sains Malaysia president, Professor Datuk Dr Asma Ismail said that Sir Alimuddin had displayed a strong background of an impact-driven researcher and should be lauded for his efforts to make a difference in the area of tropical sciences.

“Sir Alimuddin has proved time and time again that his interest is to serve the world through his research and global collaboration efforts. His work focuses on improving global health, with an emphasis on assisting poorer and disadvantaged peoples of the world. Our decision was unanimous. We could not think of a better recipient for this year’s Mahathir Science Award,” she said.

Professor Datuk Asma Ismail was joined by the Mahathir Science Award Foundation Chairman, Professor Tan Sri Samsudin Osman, and the Chief Executive Officer of Akademi Sains Malaysia, Madam Hazami Habib in conveying the news to Sir Alimuddin via video conferencing.

Sir Alimuddin shared his delight on hearing the news of the award.

“I feel extremely honoured to have been recognized by such an illustrious selection committee as the recipient of the prestigious 2020 Mahathir Science Award. It is truly, very humbling to be recognised by a scientific body of great repute within the Asian region.

“I have always believed that impact on the community and disadvantaged populations should be the driving force underlying any research and I hope that it will encourage my peers and the younger generation scientists to focus on more impact-driven research initiatives to advance the tropical field, be it in the area of medicine, agriculture, architecture, engineering, natural resources, animal  or environmental health.”

“I am very pleased that I will have the opportunity at the award ceremony in Malaysia to be held next year, to meet the Young Scientists Network of ASM, engage with my peers; and the fellows of ASM. I look forward to establishing ONE-HUMAN-ANIMAL-HEALTH collaborations with Malaysian researchers and to help in empowering the next generation of scientists from Asia to take leadership of important tropical health issues.”

“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,” said Sir Alimuddin, who was nominated for the award by Professor Jamshed Bomanji after he read about it in the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene newsletter.

The Mahathir Science Award (MSA) is a prestigious award bestowed by the Mahathir Science Award Foundation to researchers or institutions who have made internationally recognized scientific breakthroughs in pioneering tropical research that have brought greater positive impacts to society in the fields of Tropical Medicine, Tropical Agriculture, Tropical Architecture and Engineering and Tropical Natural Resources.

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The African Forum for Research and Education in Health (AFREhealth) is an interprofessional health grouping that seeks to work all stakeholders interested in health profession education , research and service delivery to improve the quality of health care in Africa through research, education and capacity building. It is a conglomerate of individuals, institutions, associations and networks from all the geographic and linguistic regions of Africa namely Anglophone, Francophone, Lusophone and Arabophone. Read More...

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