Helen Rees

Helen Rees is one of South Africa’s best respected clinician scientists and is internationally renowned for her research and policy work in HIV, vaccines, reproductive health and drug regulation.

Professor Rees is Executive Director of the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg where she is also a Personal Professor in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, and Co-Director of the Wits African Local Initiative for Vaccinology Expertise (ALIVE). She is an Honorary Professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, an Honorary Fellow at Murray Edwards College, Cambridge University, and an alumnae of Harvard Business School.

Before becoming an academic, Professor Rees was an anti-apartheid and women’s health activist, and a clinician working in Alexandra Township, Johannesburg throughout the turbulent 1980’s. Professor Rees Chair’s the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Advisory Group on HPV vaccines and is a member of UNICEF/BMGF’s Equity Reference Group for Immunization.

Professor Rees has received many awards for her contribution to African and global health including being made an Officer of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II, and being awarded the Order of the Baobab, one of South Africa’s highest honours, as well as both Lifetime and Gold awards for her distinguished contribution to science, global health and women’s health by the South African Academy of Science, the South African Medical Association, the South African Department of Science and Technology, BHP Billetin and the Oppenheimer Foundation respectively. She received a lifetime achievement award from the pan-African NGO Amanitare for her contribution to the lives of African women and girls.