Stellenbosch University pays tribute to two professors as they retire after years of commitment in the field of TB.
STELLENBOSCH UNIVERSITY PAYS TRIBUTE TO TWO PROFESSORS AS THEY RETIRE AFTER YEARS OF COMMITMENT IN THE FIELD OF TB
The Department of Paediatrics and Child Health at Stellenbosch University recently paid tribute to two greatly respected professors who are retiring after championing the prevention and treatment of tuberculosis over several decades.
Tributes poured in at a special event for Professor Nulda Beyers and Professor Robert Gie. They have been credited with putting childhood TB on the map globally at a time when there was a complete disregard for TB in children, and for working tirelessly in the field of TB for many years.
Head of the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Professor Mariana Kruger, who hosted the ‘Day of Excellence’ seminar on childhood TB at the university in honour of her two fellow professors, thanked them for their dedication to their patients, mentorship to all of their students, and friendship to their colleagues.
Professor Beyers, together with her husband, Professor Gie, started the Desmond Tutu TB Centre in 1990 with a grant of a few thousand rand and a dream to help people with tuberculosis. Under her guidance as director, the centre has grown from small beginnings into having a staff complement of over 400, with wide-ranging research in TB and HIV through an array of studies.
Professor Beyers was recently presented with a Gold award by the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC). The awards are presented to scientists whose work has had ‘a monumental impact’ on health research in South Africa. She was also a National Runner-Up in the Department of Science and Technology’s 2015 Women in Science Awards. Professor Beyers has been internationally recognized for her exceptional work in TB and has been ranked by Thomson Reuters as one of the top 10 most influential TB researchers in the world
Professor Gie has played a key role in establishing WHO international health guidelines for the treatment of childhood TB and has both chaired and served on top-level international committees. He has also published widely and is credited with contributing to National Health guidelines on asthma.
Both Professors Beyers and Gie were recognized as Distinguished Professors by Stellenbosch University in 2014.
Despite their achievements, colleagues say they have consistently remained humble and down-to-earth. They’ve complimented them on their caring nature, inspiring leadership and passion and commitment to their work in TB.
While stepping down from their current roles, the two academics, who have journeyed through their married life together working in the field of TB, will continue to teach and do research, while taking some time off to enjoy gardening and the simple pleasures of life.
They both thanked the university, colleagues and mentors for the opportunities they have had over the years. Professor Beyers said her most rewarding experiences were often in the community.
“The greatest thing was to walk in the communities we work in, to sit in people’s homes. We often talk about TB as if we’re talking about statistics, but the people suffer.
For some it might to fabulous to meet important people like President Barack Obama and Bill Gates. We did that, but the most important thing for me was to take people who have never been to poverty-stricken areas and show them what is it like to live with the diseases that we so glibly talk about,” said Professor Beyers.
Professor Gie said it was a privilege to teach and mentor students, some of whom have gone on to become world leaders in their fields.
“What gave me the greatest pleasure was to mentor people to become paediatric pulmonologists.” He also trained 148 registrars. “It was a pleasure to train every single one of them.”
PREPARED BY KIM CLOETE FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF PAEDIATRICS AND CHILD HEALTH, FACULTY OF MEDICINE AND HEALTH SCIENCES, STELLENBOSCH UNIVERSITY. FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT KIM AT 082 4150736 OR firstname.lastname@example.org