Important Career Milestones

Career Milestones Reached by Prof MW Makgoba:
M.B., Ch.B (Natal); D.Phil.(Oxon);   F.R.C.P. (London); F.R.S.S.Af; M.A.S.S.Af; AMP(INSEAD) 

  • Former Vice-Chancellor & Principal (UKZN);
  • Vice-President for Planning & Review (ICSU);
  • Member of the National Planning Commission;
  • Chairperson - Ministerial Transformation Oversight Committee of Public Universities;
  • Professor Makgoba was born in Sekhukhune and grew up as a shepherd. He obtained the 2nd highest marks at primary School in the Lydenburg district in 1966, was in the first group to be promoted from form 1 to form 2 at Hwiti High in the Pietersburg district in 1967 and obtained a first class Matric pass at Hwiti High in 1970;
  • Professor Makgoba obtained his M.B. and Ch.B. degrees from the former University of Natal in 1976 with merit in Medicine, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Human Immunogenetics from Oxford University in 1983 under Prof Sir Andrew McMichael. A Fellow of the Royal Physicians of London  and  Foreign Associate Member of the United States Academies of Science's Institute of Medicine.
  • For 30 years his standard 6 answer scripts ‘were used as examples on how to answer questions by the district’s inspectorate’;
  • He was admitted directly into first year medicine and he graduated with a certificate of Merit in Medicine in 1976 (Internal Medicine and Paediatrics and Child Health), obtained awards and the highest marks for Medicine and Paediatrics in his class;
  • He was the first African medical doctor to be awarded the prestigious Oxford Nuffield Dominion Medical Fellowship, in Oct 1979;
  • He was admitted Member of the Royal College of Physicians, United Kingdom, in July 1980;
  • He was the first Lecturer/Senior Registrar to the late Sir Raymond Hoffenberg, President of the Royal College of Physicians of London;
  • The late Sir Raymond Hoffenberg FRCP, PRCP (former President of Wolfson College Oxford and the Royal College of Physicians (Lond), Emeritus Prof of Medicine, Birmingham University) described Makgoba’s research as follows: "It is his research that is unquestionably outstanding... He has emerged as one of the best of the younger Investigators in this country (UK), which is absolutely remarkable when one considers the difficulties he must have encountered in his early training" Jan 1987, emerging from apartheid South Africa;
  • Professor Makgoba was a Fogarty Visiting Associate Scientist at the NIH from 1986 to 1988. Working with Drs. Martin Sanders and Stephen Shaw and others at the National Cancer Institute, “were among the first to appreciate the importance of lymphocyte adhesion and these observations have helped shape the evolution of the field as follows:
              i) appreciation of the importance of antigen-nonspecific adhesion to T cell antigen-specific recognition,
              ii) demonstration that changes in adhesion molecule expression and function are cardinal features of naïve to memory cell differentiation and
              iii) for co-discovering the first two heterophillic direct intercellular molecular adhesion pathways in all of biology ”. He was instrumental in demonstrating the importance of adhesion molecules in T cell function through a series of what are now regarded as classic publications;
  • Professor Makgoba's team provided the first evidence that isoforms of the adhesion/ signaling molecule (ICAM-1) circulate in plasma and the circulating levels of isoform patterns might vary with inflammation and in different pathological states. This became the basis to the development of Adhesion molecule immunoassays for diagnostic purposes and the search for other circulating isoforms of other adhesion/signaling molecules;
  • He has authored numerous scientific papers, 11 of which have become ‘classic publications'(cited over 100 times) and in 1989 he co-authored two of the most cited papers in immunology;
  • One such co-authored paper has been recognised as one of 17 core scientific papers that formed the precursor for “Modern Structural Biology” and the other laid the scientific basis for Adhesion molecule immunoassays; 
  • Nominated, on 17th September 2008, by the Honourable Minister Mosibudi Mangena to give the prestigious 3rd Phillip Tobias lecture at INSITE, “in acknowledgement of the contribution Prof Makgoba had made as an intellectual and scientist and for his ongoing contributions to the country’s science system”;
  • He became Reader/Honorary Consultant in Molecular Endocrinology at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School/Hammersmith Hospital, University of London 1990-1994;
  • Elected a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London in 1990;
  • Awarded the National Health’s (UK) Distinction and Meritorious Award  in 1991;
  • The Science Block at Hwiti High School, was named after Prof MW Makgoba in recognition of his contributions to Science, Education and as a student role model at Hwiti High in 1992;
  • Appointed as the first African Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), and Professor Ornamentarus University of Witwatersrand, In 1994;
  • The British National Museum of Science and Industry selected his work published in The Lancet (1993) for a permanent display “popularizing state-of-the-art science in the 20th Century” in 1994;
  • In 1996 appointed ad Hominem Professor of Molecular Immunology at the School of Pathology, University of Witwatersrand;
  • He was Founding Member of the Academy of Science of South Africa in 1995;
  • Elected Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa August  in 1995;
  • The first African President of the Medical Research Council of South Africa  in October 1998;
  • The National Science and Technology Forum’s Award for “Outstanding Contribution to Science, Engineering and Technology in South Africa”  in 1999;
  • Awarded Gold Medal for “Outstanding Leadership in Medical Research” , University of the Witwatersrand in 2001;
  • Awarded Science-for-Society Gold Medal of the Academy of Science of South Africa in 2002;
  • Elected Fellow of the College of Physicians of South Africa ad eundem, in  2002;
  • The first African Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Natal in 2002;
  • Elected,  member to the founding Coordinating Committee of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise, in 2003;
  • The Founding Vice-Chancellor and Principal  of the University of KwaZulu-Natal in 2004;
  • Selected as one of 65 Caring Physicians of the World by the World Medical Association in recognition for upholding “the fundamental and enduring traditions of the medical profession of-care, ethics and science-”, in 2006;
  • Elected Fellow of Imperial College (Faculty of Medicine) in recognition of “Professor Makgoba’s outstanding contributions to medical research, international public health and university administration” in June 2007;
  • In 2008, Professor Makgoba together with Dr Thomas Cech (former President of Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) in the US), jointly led UKZN and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to establish the KwaZulu-Natal  Research Institute for TB and HIV (K-RITH) – a multi-million rand project that was completed and launched on 9/10 2012. The total cost of the project including scholarships and research is estimated to 1 billion South African rands). Makgoba is passionate about the training and development of young and future African scientists and believes that K-RITH provides the opportunity to attain this;
  • Co-chaired of the Nelson Mandela/Chissano Foundations’ 2031 Hyper-endemic AIDS project 2009-2010;
  • Chairman of the Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize –Medical Services Category– Selection Committee (the prize is the Japanese equivalent to the Nobel Prize);
  • Member of the National Planning Commission since May 2010;
  • Chair of the Health  Sciences Review Committee since 2010 (a joint Committee of the National Department of Health, the Department of Higher Education and Training and the Department of Finance;
  • Elected the Founding Member of the Council of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise;
  • Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Mail and Guardian 2002 to March 2011;
  • Special (Scientific) Advisor to Minister Naledi Pandor (Science & Technology) 2010 to August 2012;
  • His passion in addressing the HIV/AIDS pandemic is evident in the substantial funding that has been secured under his leadership to establish world-class research facilities in South Africa. The first was in 2003 – a R40 million research institute - the Doris Duke Medical Research Institute was established at the Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine;
  • Under his leadership, three of the world’s top biomedical research funders i.e. the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the National Health Institutes in the US and the Wellcome Trust in the UK are supporting major research initiatives and infrastructure developments at UKZN;
  • Over the past 24 months, over 10 books published by eminent authors and scholars, locally and internationally on the topic of HIV/AIDS causation and the provision of anti-retroviral therapy in South Africa have acknowledged and recognised Professor Makgoba’s sterling leadership contributions in shaping policy debates, in fighting for the integrity of science, the freedom of scientific research and the provision of anti-retroviral therapy in South Africa;

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