Helen Rees, MD, MS


Helen Rees

Board Co-chair

Executive Director, Wits Reproductive Health & HIV Institute

Professor Helen Rees is Executive Director of the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg where she is also an Ad Hominem Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. She is an Honorary Professor in the Department of Infectious and Tropical Diseases of the Clinical Research Unit at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, where she is also the Heath Clark lecturer for 2010. Professor Rees received her Medical Degree and a Masters in Social and Political Sciences from Cambridge University and in 2002 became an alumnus of Harvard Business School.

Professor Rees is internationally renowned for her policy and research work in reproductive health and HIV and vaccines, she has published over 200 papers and been an invited chair or speaker at over 400 events. She has chaired many national and international committees and is Chair of the South African Medicines Control Council, and chair of the National Health Data and Advisory Committee, chair of the National Contraceptive Policy Committee and a member of the National Advisory Group on Immunisation. Internationally she is Chair of the World Health Organization’s African Regional Immunization Technical Advisory Group, Chair of WHO’s IHR Emergency Review Committee on Polio and a member of WHO’s IHR Yellow Fever Emergency Committee, Co- Chair of WHO’s Ebola Vaccine Working Group, Chair of WHO’s Review Committee on Maternal Influenza Immunisation and Chair of WHO’s STI Vaccine Roadmap Committee. She is a member of the WHO’s Working group on measles and rubella and of the WHO’s Decade of vaccines evaluation committee. She was rapporteur for the recently concluded WHO IHR Review Committee. She serves on the Boards and Programme and Policy Committee of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) and of AVAC, a global HIV prevention research organization.

She has received many national and international awards for her contribution to African health and global health including being made an Officer of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II, receiving the Order of the Baobab which is one of the South Africa’s highest honours, as well as Lifetime and Gold awards for her distinguished contribution to science, global health and women’s health by the South African Academy of Science, the South African Medical Association, the South African Department of Science and Technology, BHP Bulletin, the Oppenheimer Foundation and was the 2011 Heath Clark Lecturer at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.