Dr Sean Wasserman, winner of the Stephen Lawn TB-HIV Research Leadership Prize, profiled in The Lancet

The Lancet has profiled Sean Wasserman: rising star in TB-HIV research and medicine, as part of Dr Wasserman’s prize for winning the Stephen Lawn TB-HIV Research Leadership Prize in 2019.

Dr Wasserman - Associate Professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases and HIV Medicine at the University of Cape Town and Investigator in Clinical Research at the Wellcome Centre for Infectious Diseases Research in Africa - was awarded the 2019 Stephen Lawn TB-HIV Research Leadership Prize at the Union World Conference in Hyderabad, India.

The Lancet profile charts Dr Wasserman’s progress from studying medicine at the University of Cape Town, his involvement with an activist organisation which led the fight for equal access to HIV antiretroviral therapy, and time spent as an intern in a resource-limited setting, resulting in his realisation that “medicine could be an important tool for confronting social injustice.”

Since then, much of Dr Wasserman’s research has focussed on optimising drug-resistant TB therapy, including the potential role of new and repurposed drugs, like linezolid, and the effectiveness of short-course oral therapy. Looking forward, he is aware of the work still to be done in collecting the evidence to better understand efficacy and safety in programmatic settings, especially among HIV-positive patients. Dr Wasserman sees himself able to contribute to that task: “My role as a clinician-scientist in Africa is to do high-quality studies that are responsive to local clinical need, that will inform care for marginalised communities.”

Dr Gary Maartens, Professor of Clinical Pharmacology at the University of Cape Town, witnessed first-hand the development of Dr Wasserman’s career: “Sean already had outstanding critical thinking skills as a registrar—my ward rounds with him were delightful because he frequently challenged me. Like the best clinician-scientists, Sean gets his research ideas at the bedside, and after burying himself in the literature, he has the rare knack of finding important research questions which are answerable.”

The prize, established through a global partnership between the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, the Desmond Tutu HIV Centre at the University of Cape Town and The Union, acknowledges young researchers under 40 years of age who are conducting promising work focused on reducing the disease burden of tuberculosis (TB) and HIV/AIDS in Africa. Dr Wasserman was selected for the prize as an outstanding investigator who has already made very significant contributions in the field of TB-HIV research.

The Stephen Lawn Memorial Fund for TB and AIDS Research Leadership was set up to commemorate Stephen Lawn’s life and work, and supports the Research Leadership Prize. The prize comprised of a full fellowship to attend the conference, a cash award, certificate, profile piece by The Lancet, and an invitation to attend the Stephen Lawn Memorial Lecture in March 2020. Unfortunately, due to current COVID-10 restrictions relating to international travel and large gatherings, the lecture has been postponed.

Find out more about The Stephen Lawn TB-HIV Research Leadership Prize.