Born in rural Sekhukhune, Limpopo Province, Professor Malegapuru Makgoba has an illustrious career spanning well over 30 years. Currently the vice-chancellor of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, 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, having been 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. He has also been honoured by President Jacob Zuma with the Order of Mapungubwe (Silver) ‘for 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 an HIV (KRITH). Housed at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s medical school, the institute is prized for placing a world-class facility at the epicenter of the problem.