Professor Helen Rees is the Executive Director of the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute (WRHI) of the University of Witwatersrand where she is also a personal professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. She is an Honorary Professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine where she was also the recipient of the 2010 International Health Clarke Lectureship. She is an alumnus of Cambridge University and Harvard Business School.
Professor Rees is internationally renowned as an expert in HIV prevention and reproductive health, and in vaccines and drug regulation, having previously served as the chair of the South African Medicines Control Council. Prof Rees serves on numerous national and international committees and Boards. She is the chair of the World Health Organisation’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) and is the SAGE focal point for HPV, Rubella and HIV vaccines. She is the chair of the SAGE working group on the Use of Vaccines in Humanitarian Emergencies, and also serves on WHO’s Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety. She is a board member of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) and serves on the Board of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), on the GAVI Policy and Programme Committee and on the GAVI Research Committee. Prof Rees has just been appointed to the Scientific Committee of the NIH’s HIV Prevention Trial Network, and is currently the co-chair of the Scientific Track for HIV prevention and epidemiology for the AIDS 2012 Washington Conference of the International AIDS Society. She serves on the scientific advisory committees on microbicides for NIAIDS and for the Population Council. She is a member of the WHO/UNAIDS Working Group on Pre exposure prophylaxis for which she co-chairs the Clinical Sub-Committee. She is a member of the Wellcome Trust’s Population and Public Health Review Group.
Prof Rees is the National Co-Chair of the Programme Implementation Committee of the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC), is on the South African National AIDS Trust and also chairs the SANAC HIV Prevention Research sub-Committee. She is a member of South Africa’s National Advisory Group in Immunization and a member of the National Health Data Advisory and Coordination Committee of the Department of Health. She serves on the Board of the UKZN HIV Economics and HIV/AIDS Research Division (HEARD) and on the Board of the Higher Education HIV/AIDS Programme (HEAIDS). She is an active researcher and is the Protocol Chair of the first South African microbicide network trial (FACTS), a Phase 3 trial of tenofovir gel.
Prof Rees is the recipient of a number of awards including being the first South African to be awarded the South African Distinguished Scientists Award recognised for her outstanding contribution to improving the quality of life of women. She is a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), and was awarded the 2011 Academy of Science of South Africa’s Gold Award for excellence in Science and contribution to Society. She was made the 2011 Heath Clark lecturer at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. In 2011 she became a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2001 she was made an Officer of the British Empire for her contribution to the South African health sector and to international health.