Gita Ramjee (born 1956)

Wikipedia 🌐 Gita Ramjee

Wikipedia for Gita Ramjee - Entry Saved from May 2020

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Born Gita Parekh 8 April 1956 , in Kampala, Uganda Protectorate

Died 31 March 2020 (aged 63) ( Umhlanga, outside Durban, South Africa )

Nationality South African

Alma mater

University of Sunderland

University of KwaZulu-Natal

Known for

HIV research

Microbicides

Spouse(s)

Pravin Ramjee[1]

Scientific career

Fields Medicine, Pediatrics, HIV

Institutions South African Medical Research Council

Gita Ramjee FRCPE (née Parekh; 8 April 1956 – 31 March 2020) was a Ugandan-South African scientist and researcher in HIV prevention. In 2018, she was awarded the ‘Outstanding Female Scientist’ award from the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership.[2] She died in Umhlanga, Durban, South Africa, from COVID-19 related complications.[3]

Early life and education

Gita Parekh was born on 8 April 1956[1][4] and grew up in Colonial Uganda before her family were driven into exile under Idi Amin in the 1970s.[4] She attended high school in India before attending the University of Sunderland in England. She graduated in 1980 with a BSc (Hons) in Chemistry and Physiology. She married a South African-Indian fellow student, Praveen Ramjee, and moved to Durban where she began working in the Department of Paediatrics at the Medical School of the University of KwaZulu-Natal. After her two sons were born she completed her Masters, and subsequently a PhD in 1994.[5]

Career

After completing her PhD in kidney diseases of childhood, Ramjee joined the South African Medical Research Council as a scientist.[5] She rose rapidly through the ranks to head the largest unit of the Council, the HIV Prevention Research Unit. She helped expand the unit from 22 scientific staff to 350 and was instrumental in growing its international reputation.[5]

At the time of her death, Ramjee was the Chief Scientific Officer at the Aurum Institute, a not-for-profit AIDS/Tuberculosis research organisation,[6] as well as director of the South African Medical Research Council's Prevention Research Unit. She received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the International Microbicide Conference in 2012. She was an honorary professor at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, the University of Washington in Seattle, and the University of Cape Town.[6] She was a member of a number of local and international committees including the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) and the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC).[7]

Research

Her specialisation in HIV prevention and treatment research led her to lead the expansion of phase I through phase III HIV prevention and treatment clinical trials in the greater Durban area as the Clinical Trials Unit Principal Investigator.[7] Ramjee was concerned that the focus should not only be on clinical trials but treatment accompanied by HIV prevention education and care. In an interview she stated, “Women are the hardest hit by HIV in this region, and there is still a lot to do to address health issues in developing countries. There is a need for [a] more holistic approach to HIV prevention which should include reproductive health care for women.”[5] Ramjee was one of the first South African scientists to work on developing microbicides.[8]

She received the 2017 MRC Scientific Merit Award gold medal.[8]

As an academic, she published more than 170 articles and was both a reviewer and editor of several scientific journals.[7]

Death

Ramjee was in London to deliver a lecture at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine on 17 March 2020, entitled 'HIV: diverse challenges among children and women in Asia and Africa'. On her return to South Africa she felt unwell and was hospitalised. She died from complications relating to COVID-19.[6]

David Mabuza, deputy president of South Africa, led the tributes calling her a "champion in the fight against the HIV epidemic." As the chairperson of the South African National AIDS Council, he stated: "The passing of Professor Ramjee comes as a huge blow to the entirety of the healthcare sector and the global fight against HIV/AIDS."[9] Salim Abdool Karim, director of the Centre for the Aids Programme of Research in South Africa, praised her work for women, saying "She was involved in almost every major HIV prevention trial on microbicide … and defined her niche in developing technologies for women."[8] The president of the South African Medical Research Centre, Glenda Gray, also paid tribute to her work "She tried to address the whole ecosystem that makes women vulnerable, from the biological to the political."[8]


GITA RAMJEE

  • Clinical Professor, Global Health

HIV Prevention Research Unit

Medical Research Council

Durban

South Africa

Email:

gita.ramjee@mrc.ac.za

SELECT FROM THE FOLLOWING:

AboutAboutProjectsPublications

BIOGRAPHY

Gita Ramjee PhD FRCPE is a Chief Specialist Scientist and Director of the South African Medical Research Council’s HIV Prevention Research Unit. She holds an Honorary Professorship from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London.


Dr Ramjee is world renowned, specializing in HIV prevention and treatment research with integrated care programmes among women and men in communities around the greater Durban area in South Africa. As the Clinical Trials Unit Principal Investigator, she has had oversight of an expansive portfolio of phase I through phase III HIV prevention and treatment clinical trials. She has been acknowledged internationally for her expertise in the field of microbicide research, including a Lifetime Achievement Award for HIV Prevention in 2012. Dr Ramjee has published more than 170 research articles. She is a reviewer and editor of several scientific journals and a member of several local and international committees and advisory groups including the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) and the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC).


Dr Ramjee has contributed substantially to advancing HIV prevention science among women in South Africa and is considered a critical player in the field of HIV prevention clinical trials.

EDUCATION

  • PhD (University of Natal)

  • MSc (University of Natal)

  • BSc (University of Sunderland)

COUNTRY AFFILIATIONS

LANGUAGES

  • Gujarati

  • Hindi

HEALTH TOPICS

  • HIV/AIDS

  • Infectious Diseases

  • Sociobehavioral

  • STDs (other than HIV)

DGH CENTERS, PROGRAMS AND INITIATIVES AND AFFILIATED ORGANIZATIONS

Microbicides Trials Network


Baeten JM, Palanee‑Phillips T, Brown ER et al. Use of a Vaginal Ring Containing Dapivirine for HIV-1 Prevention in Women. NEJM DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1506110


Ramjee G, McCormack S. The role of progestins in HIV acquisition in young women. Lancet Infectious Diseases. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(15)00476-4


Handan Wand; Tarylee Reddy; Sarita Naidoo; Suri Moonsamy; Samantha Siva; Neetha Morar; Gita Ramjee. "A simple risk prediction algorithm for HIV transmission: results from HIV prevention trials conducted in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa (2002-2012)". AIDS and Behavior. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10461-017-1785-7


Ramjee G, Moonsamy S, Abbai NS, Wand H (2016) Individual and Population Level Impact of Key HIV Risk Factors on HIV Incidence Rates in Durban, South Africa. PLoS ONE 11(4): e0153969. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0153969


Holly Janes, Lawrence Corey, Gita Ramjee, Lindsay N. Carpp, Myron S. Cohen, Peter B. Gilbert, and Glenda E. Gray. Weighing the Evidence of Efficacy of Oral PrEP for HIV Prevention in Women in Southern Africa. AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses. DOI: 10.1089/aid.2018.0031



2020-04-01-daily-maverick-professor-gita-ramjee-world-renowned-hiv-scientist


Source - The Daily Maverick (April 1, 2020) -

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Professor Gita Ramjee, who recently returned from a trip to London, had been admitted to hospital with pneumonia. She was Chief Scientific Officer at the Aurum Institute and former chief specialist scientist and director of the South African Medical Research Council’s (SAMRC) HIV Prevention Research Unit. She died in an Umhlanga hospital on Tuesday from Covid-19 related complications.

Professor Glenda Gray, president and CEO of the SAMRC, informed staff in an email of Ramjee’s “tragic passing” due to “Covid-19 related complications”.

The Aurum Institute said it was deeply saddened by the death of Ramjee whom they described as a “world-renowned scientist, who worked tirelessly to find HIV prevention solutions for women”.

“The world has lost a bold and compassionate leader in the response to HIV,” said Professor Gavin Churchyard, Group CEO of the Aurum Institute. “Gita Ramjee firmly believed in health as a fundamental human right. Her ground-breaking research in HIV prevention contributed to the global response to HIV and AIDS. Our thoughts during this difficult time are with her family, colleagues and the many people her life and work touched,” he added.

Ramjee, recognised as a world-class scientist, spent her life focused on finding HIV prevention methods, which were conducive to the lifestyles, circumstances and perceived risk factors that South African women face. While at the SAMRC, Ramjee’s KwaZulu-Natal based team was also at the forefront of attempts to find an effective HIV vaccine.

Ramjee held Honorary Professorships at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the University of Washington in Seattle and the University of Cape Town.

Ramjee was a critical player in the field of HIV prevention clinical trials and was acknowledged internationally for her expertise in the field of microbicide research, including a Lifetime Achievement Award for HIV Prevention. In 2018, she was honoured with the “Outstanding Female Scientist” Award by the European Development Clinical Trials Partnerships (EDCTP) for her life’s work that has focused on finding new HIV prevention methods.

Ramjee has published more than 200 research articles. She was a reviewer and editor of several scientific journals and a member of several local and international committees and advisory groups including the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) and the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC).

“The Aurum Institute and the global HIV research community will mourn Gita Ramjee’s passing and celebrate the huge contribution to the response to HIV she made in her life,” said Churchyard.

Ramjee had been involved in the clinical trials of microbicides for over a decade. She collaborated with all the major sponsors involved in HIV prevention research, including UNAIDS, Population Council, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Wellcome Trust. MC

2007 (May 08) - (From The Guardian ) Gita Ramjee: A passion for prevention

Source : [HM000R][GDrive]

The HIV researcher at the centre of a row over clinical trials tells Linda Nordling why she will never give up

Linda Nordling

Months have passed, but Professor Gita Ramjee still recoils at the memory of events that came close to robbing South Africa of one of its top scientists. "There came a point when I thought: is it worth my while? I have dedicated my life to finding an HIV prevention option for the women of Africa, and these recent attempts to tarnish my efforts have been very demotivating."

It is fitting that we meet on a day when freak waves and high winds are causing widespread damage along the Kwa-Zulu Natal coastline. A storm of a different kind rocked her research unit recently. A storm less forceful perhaps, but more damaging to those inside.

In January, Ramjee, director of the HIV prevention research unit in Durban, received the news that a routine inspection by an external team of experts had discovered anomalies in data from a study of a potential new microbicide to protect women against HIV/Aids. Alarmingly, more women receiving the vaginal preparation of cellulose sulphate appeared to have developed HIV, compared with the group not receiving the product. Although the numbers were very small, the external team decided to halt the trial for safety reasons.

A press release was issued explaining that the treatment "might" increase women's chances of HIV infection. Test products were recalled from the 1,333 women participating in South Africa, Benin, Uganda and India, and Conrad, the US-based sponsor of the trial, ordered a review to shed light on what had happened.

Press field day

Ramjee wished it could have stopped there. But it didn't. The press had a field day with what was incorrectly christened a "botched" trial. Some called the women testing the drug "guinea pigs", encouraged by the scientists to have unprotected sex using the gel as an aphrodisiac. "I think the whole world was horrified that certain South African press could stoop so low. That they could misunderstand an issue so much," says Ramjee

The articles were not just damaging to other HIV prevention efforts at the unit, but to clinical trials as a whole, she says. "Negative press such as this can destroy HIV prevention efforts. We need to have a united front, with civil society and scientists working together to address the problem and applauding volunteers who come forward to find solutions." But she admits her unit could have done more to prevent what happened. "In future, I would like to do it better, get the press involved, make them understand the science and interpretation of data."

In the aftermath, Ramjee received strong support from her colleagues, sponsors and even from participants in the trials. The last tried to put the record straight with the press. "Don't tell us that we are guinea pigs, we know exactly what we're doing, and can think for ourselves," they told the journalists. Did the press print their stories? "No."

But Ramjee's heart sank. It felt like the very people she had dedicated her life to help had turned against her. "At the time I was very, very depressed." But she did not give up. "A lot of people said to me: if you, one of the best clinical trialists in the world, don't continue with this fight against HIV/Aids, who will? So you have to motivate yourself again."

Such dedication to what she values most is a recurring phenomenon in Ramjee's life. Not for her the latte-sipping existence enjoyed by some of her contemporaries. "I'm not the type of woman who likes to spend hours at shopping centres with friends," she says. Instead, her life has revolved around her family and her career, with the former taking precedence.

Perhaps it was the many upheavals of her youth that taught her to hold on to what could always be counted on: close family and her own faculties. Growing up in Uganda, her first experience of exile came at the hands of Idi Amin, the dictator who forced all Asians out of the country in the 1970s. After a couple of years in a high school in India, the land of her ancestors, she relocated again, this time to the University of Sunderland in the north-east of England.

It was in here that she met her future husband - a South African of Indian descent. In 1981, on finishing her degree, she followed him to South Africa. It was a culture shock. In the early 80s the apartheid regime was weakening, but still held on to power, particularly in the Transvaal region, from where her husband's family came. "It was extremely difficult for somebody used to living in a multicultural, open society. As a student in England, you didn't look at colour. You looked at people as individuals."

In search of more liberal surroundings, the young couple moved to Durban. Here, Ramjee felt more at ease. She felt welcomed by people from a variety of backgrounds. "I think it was nice for them to meet somebody who wasn't thinking in the past. I felt very comfortable living in Durban at that time." She got a job in paediatrics at a local hospital. This put her in the way of a masters degree and, ultimately, a PhD on the kidney diseases of children, which she completed in 1994.

By that time she had two sons whom she tried - sometimes in vain - to shelter from the idiosyncrasies of South African society. "I was so determined, coming from a multicultural society, that I would never put my child in a single-race school." This was easier said than done, but in the end she succeeded.

The years of her doctorate saw Ramjee make superhuman efforts to stay on top of family and career. "I used to get up at six in the morning, prepare food, wake my children, send them off to school, do a half day of practical work, come back, pick my sons up from school, help them do their homework and send them to sleep." She would then herself go to sleep at 8pm only to get up again at two in the morning to write her thesis. She kept this up for a year. "I never gave up my responsibility as a parent. Although I wanted to excel in my career, I never wanted to compromise myself as a mother."

Nascent technology

The sacrifice paid off, but in a roundabout way. After her PhD, Ramjee wanted a break, but fearful of too much leisure time, she sought out a small project that would pass the time when her sons were at school. She found a small research project evaluating the acceptability of a vaginal microbicide, at that time a nascent technology in the armoury against HIV/Aids. This work put her in contact with local sex workers - a "reality check" as she calls it.

"It opened my eyes. These are good women, who are put in a position that people scorn." In the mid-90s, when Ramjee started working with sex workers in Kwa-Zulu Natal, 50% were HIV positive. "These women mostly aren't doing this out of choice. The stories they used to tell us were horrific. That's when I knew I wanted to be involved in the prevention of HIV infection in women."

What began as a short project evolved into a strong commitment. In the years to follow, Ramjee worked her way up through the ranks to finally head the Durban unit. She inherited a staff of 21, and quickly built this into a 300-strong organisation with an international reputation for excellence.

She is matter of fact about her success: "Because I did so well in clinical trials, I had offers pouring in for me to do clinical research. I think the key to success is my approach to capacity building, respecting each and every member of my staff, the community, and also the fact that I delivered on the contracts. It is my holistic approach to research, where I'm not just thinking science."

Today, Ramjee is looking ahead. The final results of a recently completed trial on a vaginal diaphragm will be out in the next couple of months and other trials are also nearing completion. There is a long way to go. "What people don't realise is that none of the current generation of microbicides or any other prevention technology is going to be 100% effective. So whether there are microbicides or a vaccine out there or not, there is nothing that will to allow you to go have unprotected sex without the risk of infection. Not for a long, long time."

Still, the recent crisis has taught her the importance of striking a new work-life balance. "In a way, I feel that while I'm passionate about my work, it is too consuming a passion. I need to find a more balanced situation, where I do things that I enjoy as well." But finding the time to do that will be difficult, she admits. "It's in my nature to want to excel. My calling is to find a solution. If I don't succeed in my lifetime, at least I've worked towards it."

Curriculum vitae

Age: 50

Job: Director of the HIV prevention research unit in Durban, South Africa

Lives: In Durban with her husband, a pharmacist

Likes: spas, exotic travels

"MAJOR RESEARCH PROJECTS IN THE REPORTING PERIOD FUNDER PROJECT /RESEARCH TITLE PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR MTN 025: A Phase 3B Open-Label Follow-on Trial to Assess the Continued Safety of and Adherence to a Vaginal Ring Containing Dapivirine in Women. The project is a follow-up trial to the ASPIRE trial, which showed for the first time in the history of the HIV epidemic among women, that a intravaginal ring containing an antiretroviral agent called Dapivirine can reduce HIV acquisition by 29% among women at high risk of HIV. The data from the trial are currently under review by drug registration authorities to register the first product for HIV prevention controlled by women.


2020 (April 1) - Global health clinical professor Gita Ramjee dies from COVID-19

source : [HE0027][GDrive]

By Jake Goldstein-Street and Ash Shah The Daily / Apr 1, 2020 Updated Apr 6, 2020

World-renowned HIV researcher Dr. Gita Ramjee, who was a clinical professor in the UW’s global health department, has died from COVID-19 complications, the department announced April 1.

“Words cannot express our sorrow for the passing of Dr. Gita Ramjee,” the department wrote in a tweet. She “was a wonderful colleague and friend who made major contributions to HIV prevention. @UW Global Health were fortunate to have her as clinical faculty.”

Ramjee’s death Tuesday, March 31, in a South African hospital was first reported by the BBC.

Ramjee was the chief scientific officer for HIV prevention for the Aurum Institute, a healthcare organization battling HIV.

“The world has lost a bold and compassionate leader in the response to HIV,” professor Gavin Churchyard said in a statement from the Aurum Institute. “Gita Ramjee firmly believed in health as a fundamental human right.”

Ramjee, who was a chief specialist scientist and director of the South African Medical Research Council’s HIV Prevention Unit, received the Outstanding Female Scientist Award in 2018 from the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership for her research on HIV prevention among women.

“I was absolutely thrilled by this award, as it recognizes decades of my commitment to clinical research activities in HIV prevention,” Ramjee told the HIV Trials Network after receiving the award. “What makes it more rewarding is that I now stand among the female giants who received this award in the past.”

The Microbicide Trials Network’s Sharon Hillier and Jared Baeten, who is also vice dean of the UW School of Public Health, wrote of her passion for addressing gender disparities in HIV incidence, quoting a recent email from Ramjee reading, “It has been a long road with many ups and downs but we have forged along with strong determination.”

She also held an honorary professorship from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. UW spokesperson Victor Balta said in an email that Ramjee worked closely with many of the university’s faculty and her title as a clinical professor was an honorary one.

A spokesperson for the department didn't think she taught courses on campus, but rather collaborated on HIV prevention programs with other faculty.

“She was always ready to share her extensive expertise and experience generously. We send our condolences to her family in this exceptionally difficult time,” the global health department posted on its Facebook.

Ramjee appears to be the second UW faculty member to die from COVID-19 after a longtime member of the pathology department was claimed by the disease caused by the novel coronavirus in mid-March.

Four faculty and other academic personnel have now tested positive for the virus, as of April 1. That’s on top of 17 staff members and 20 students for a total of 41 cases in the Seattle campus community. One UW Bothell staff member has also tested positive.

A UW campus custodian also died Tuesday, March 31, and was found to be positive for COVID-19, according to UW spokesperson Victor Balta. The employee’s last day on campus was March 20.

Any staff members who came into close contact with this employee have been notified and asked to isolate until Apr. 3, 14 days after the individual's last day on campus, Balta said in an email.

"We are in contact with the employee’s family and, out of respect for their privacy and time to grieve, we are not identifying the employee at this time," he wrote.

Reach News Editor Jake Goldstein-Street and Science Editor Ash Shah at news@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @GoldsteinStreet @itsashshah

2020-05-university-of-washington-faculty-gita-ramjee.pdf

Sources - [HE0028][GDrive]


HIV Prevention Research Unit

Medical Research Council

Durban

South Africa

gita.ramjee@mrc.ac.za (mailto:gita.ramjee@mrc.ac.za)

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GITA RAMJEE

Clinical Professor, Global Health

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BIIOGRAPHY

Gita Ramjee PhD FRCPE is a Chief Specialist Scientist and Director of the South African Medical Research Council’s HIV Prevention Research Unit. She holds an Honorary Professorship from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London.

Dr Ramjee is world renowned, specializing in HIV prevention and treatment research with integrated care programmes among women and men in communities around the greater Durban area in South Africa. As the Clinical Trials Unit Principal Investigator, she has had oversight of an expansive portfolio of phase I through phase III HIV prevention and treatment clinical trials. She has been acknowledged internationally for her expertise in the "eld of microbicide research, including a Lifetime Achievement Award for HIV Prevention in 2012. Dr Ramjee has published more than 170 research articles. She is a reviewer and editor of several scienti"c journals and a member of several local and international committees and advisory groups including the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) and the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC).

Dr Ramjee has contributed substantially to advancing HIV prevention science among women in South Africa and is considered a critical player in the "eld of HIV prevention clinical trials.

DGH CENTERS,, PROGRAMS AND IINIITIIATIIVES AND AFFIILIIATED

ORGANIIZATIIONS

HIV Vaccine Trials Network (/interactive-map/projects?organization=1047)

Microbicides Trials Network (/interactive-map/projects?organization=974)