Professor Malegapuru William Makgoba

Born in rural Sekhukhune, Limpopo Province, Professor Malegapuru Makgoba has an illustrious career spanning well over 30 years. Makgoba, came from humble beginnings to become one of South Africa’s living legends. As an immunologist, physician, public health advocate and academic, Makgoba shows great dedication to the health sciences and plays an active role in the progression of the field.

Professor Makgoba’s career began in 1976 when he was awarded a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery (MBChB) degree with merit, from the University of Natal Medical School. Thereafter, he received a Doctorate in Philosophy (DPhil) from the University of Oxford, and was the first black Nuffield Dominion Fellow to Oxford (1979), as well as the first black South African to be selected to the prestigious National Institute of Health’s Fogarty Visiting Programme in the late 1980s.

As an internationally-recognised immunologist, Makgoba’s seminal work in lymphocyte adhesion, has led to a greater understanding of human immune responses. It has helped shape the evolution of the field and as a result, Makgoba was the first recipient of the South African-German Science Award for ‘Top Researcher’ in 2012. In 2013 he was recognised as “a pioneer in higher education transformation”, by being awarded the Order of Mapungubwe in Silver.

“his dedication and excellent contribution to the field of science and medicine, locally and internationally; and for his contribution to the building of democracy in South Africa.”

His achievements are as prestigious as they are numerous, but one of his most outstanding achievements and one that will leave a lasting legacy is the R364 million KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for TB and HIV (KRITH). Housed at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s medical school, the institute is prized for placing a world-class facility at the epicentre of the problem. He retired from his ten-year tenure as Vice-Chancellor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal – 1st January 2004 – 31st December 2014.