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A recognized infectious disease expert, Professor Dato’ Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman is a scientific force to be reckoned with and needs no introduction.

She graduated from Monash University in 1987 and trained in internal medicine and infectious diseases at Monash Medical Center and Fairfield Infectious Disease Hospital in Melbourne, Australia. The esteemed academician was also the dean of the medical school at the University of Malaya. Dr. Adeeba also established the Infectious Diseases Unit at the University of Malaya Medical Center.

With her talent for this subset of diseases, she joined the investigative effort to find out all about the deadly Nipah virus that swept through Perak, Negeri Sembilan and Selangor in the 1990s. victims in a coma, and once they began to succumb to the disease, panic ensued. Whole villages were abandoned, the army intervened to slaughter cattle and farms were reduced to rubble.

The team’s findings on the Nipah virus proved to be pivotal, especially when the disease spread to Bangladesh and India. However, while these achievements are absolutely groundbreaking, Professor Dato’ Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman has a few more up his sleeve. – including being on our Women of Power list.

5 things to know about Professor Dato’ Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman

1. She is the first Malaysian to become Commissioner of the Global Commission on Drug Policy

Being the first at anything seems to be her forte. More recently it was announcement that Dr. Adeeba is ready to take on this new role for the Global Commission on Drug Policy. There, she will focus on advocating for drug policies backed by scientific evidence, human rights, public health and safety.

2. She specializes in HIV/AIDS

Not only did Dr. Adeeba establish the Infectious Diseases Unit at the University of Malaya Medical Center, but she also started the Center of Excellence for AIDS Research – one of the few research centers that dedicated to making medical advances in HIV. .

Considering the human cost of the disease, she forged a compassionate path by advocating for marginalized communities, as well as championing needle-syringe exchange and harm reduction programs. In just seven yearsthe team managed to prevent around 14,000 new infections.

Dr. Adeeba gives a lecture. Image credit: International AIDS Society/YouTube

3. She is the 2022 recipient of the 2022 Merdeka Prize for Health, Science and Technology

This is not the first time she has won the award. As a second-time winner, the professor won the gong for her work in mitigating the spread of infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS.

Merdeka’s first award dates back to 2008 – one she won for her role on the Nipah investigative team.

4. She was named a member of the Scientific Council of the World Health Organization (WHO)

In 2013, Dr. Adeeba joined the esteemed member of the Scientific Council of the World Health Organization (WHO). The council is a high-level scientific advisory group that acts as the leading voice in the arena and advises on advances in science and technology – all in the name of global health impact.

To join this acclaimed fellowship, one must be at the forefront of these fields: basic science, translational and clinical research, social sciences, epidemiology and public health.

5. Dr Adeeba is also a plant lover

Aside from major scientific discoveries, Dr. Adeeba loves gardening – a hobby she has come to appreciate during the pandemic. Talking about her hobby, she noted that it might be the doctor in her that naturally drew her into the world of horticulture.

Featured and hero image credit: Merdeka Award