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 an ad hominem professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. She is an Honorary Professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine where she is also the recipient of the 2010 International Health Clarke Lectureship. She is an alumni from Cambridge University and Harvard Business School.
Professor Rees is internationally renowned as an expert in HIV prevention and reproductive health and HIV, 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, and also services on WHO’s Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety and is the SAGE focal point for HPV and HIV vaccines. She is currently chairing the SAGE working group on the Use of Vaccines in Humanitarian Emergencies. She is a board member of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) and serves on the Policy and Programme Committee of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI). 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 the protocol chair of the South African Follow on Consortium for Tenofovir Studies which is implementing the pivotal study to establish the safety and effectiveness of the tenofovir gel microbicide.
Professor Rees is a member of South Africa’s National Advisory Group in Immunization. She is the National Co-Chair of the Programme Implementation Committee of the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) and also chairs the SANAC HIV Prevention Research Committee. She is a member of the National Data Advisory Committee responsible for establishing national health indicators. 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 their outstanding contribution to improving the quality of life of women. In 2011 she was given the Academy of Science of South Africa’s Gold Award for excellence in Science and contribution to Society. In 2001 she was made an Officer of the British Empire for her contribution to the South African health sector and to international health.