Dr Phil Mjwara honoured for promoting science, technology and innovation in SA

The Director-General of the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), Dr Phil Mjwara, has been honoured for his visionary leadership in promoting science in South Africa and abroad.

Mjwara received the Presidential Award during the annual South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) Merit Awards in Cape Town on Thursday.

With 18 years of service as Director-General, Mjwara was lauded for having significantly contributed to the South African National System of Innovation (NSI).

Through these awards, the SAMRC said it acknowledges outstanding contributions to health research and recognises individuals who have demonstrated exceptional scientific acumen.

The awards recognise those who made innovative strides in addressing public health challenges, potentially influencing policy to enhance the well-being of all South Africans.

Mjwara holds a BSc, MSc and PhD from the University of the Witwatersrand and his academic career includes serving as a Professor of Science and Technology Policy at the University
of Pretoria, and physics lectureships at the universities of the Witwatersrand, South Africa, and Fort Hare.

Speaking at the awards ceremony, SAMRC President Professor Glenda Gray said Mjwara had built a strong legacy in the country.

‘In the late 1990s, Dr Mjwara led South Africa’s first national Science and Technology Foresight Exercise, which laid the foundation for the NSI,’ the statement read.

Mjwara is also described as someone who is highly regarded in various global forums.

The Director-General is a senior member of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) International Basic Sciences Programme and the Square Kilometre Array Observatory Council.

Mjwara has also been lauded for formulating the STI Decadal Plan, which has elevated STI to the presidential level, with the first Presidential Plenary held last year.

This Decadal Plan, according to Gray, focuses on using STI to address societal challenges and highlights the importance of health research in the STI en
vironment in South Africa.

‘Dr Mjwara has set the vision for all policy development in the science and technology sector in South Africa. He saw the need to create sustainable programmes, infrastructure and human capacity to ensure that South Africa achieves excellence in critical areas of science and technology,” Gray said.

The SAMRC also honoured the DSI’s Director for Health Innovation, Glaudina Loots, with a special award for her support and leadership in health research in the country.

Loots is responsible for the implementation of the health components of the Bio-economy Strategy for South Africa.

She has been instrumental in the creation of the Strategic Health Innovation Partnerships initiative at the SAMRC, which funds and manages innovation projects focused on the development of new drugs, treatments, vaccines, medical devices and prevention strategies.

Gray explained that medical research remains fundamental for transformation, innovation and collaboration in advancing scientific discovery.

Celebrating medical research excellence not only honours the achievements of researchers but also inspires progress, fosters collaboration, and enhances the overall impact of scientific advancements on global health and well-being,’ she said.

Source: South African Government News Agency