Salim S. Abdool Karim, MBChB, PhD, FRS

Director / Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa

CAPRISA, 2nd Floor Doris Duke Medical Research Institute, 719 Umbilo Road, Congella, 4013, Durban, South Africa

Salim S. Abdool Karim is a South African clinical infectious diseases epidemiologist who is widely recognised for his research contributions in HIV prevention and treatment.


Dr. Abdool Karim and his research team at CAPRISA undertake globally relevant and locally responsive research that contributes to understanding HIV pathogenesis, prevention and epidemiology as well as the links between tuberculosis and AIDS care.

Training and Education

  • 1999
    PhD, University of Natal
  • 1992
    MMed, University of Natal
  • 1991
    FFPHM, College of Medicine South Africa
  • 1988
    MS, Columbia University

Research Interests

Together with his team, Dr. Abdool Karim works on HIV prevention in young women, as that is the largest single contributor to South Africa’s disease burden and is the largest cause of mortality in this country. While local and global HIV trends have demonstrated a decline in the number of new cases of HIV infection, the epidemic continues unabated in young women, which is now the highest global priority for HIV prevention. Given the scale of the HIV epidemic in young women, CAPRISA’s HIV prevention research focuses on the epidemiology, pathogenesis and prevention of HIV infection in women. This research programme has been planned to generate new knowledge that contributes to the development of new HIV prevention technologies such and specifically, long-acting antiretroviral formulations.

Additionally, Dr. Abdool Karim explores the reasons why younger women may have a higher risk of HIV acquisition, as understanding the immunological basis of correlates of HIV transmission in young women could hold useful clues to future HIV prevention technologies and strategies. Another research interest of Dr. Abdool Karim and his laboratory revolves around HIV Pathogenesis for passive immunity and vaccine development with the goal of preventing infection and slowing the progression of HIV infection to clinical AIDS.

Two of the key challenges in vaccine development are lack of clarity on what immune responses are needed and which components of the virus need to be targeted to protect against HIV infection.

To address these challenges, CAPRISA has been focusing on the earliest transmitted viruses and the earliest immune responses in acute HIV infection — the team continues to conduct basic science studies to generate new knowledge on the transmitted virus, the mucosal milieu for viral entry, the earliest innate immune responses, the T-cell and humoral adaptive immune responses, and the host genetic factors associated with HIV and is specifically focused on the development and testing of a potent South African identified broadly neutralising antibody for HIV prevention.

This knowledge is crucial for informing the development and testing of HIV vaccines.