The Woman of the Year was awarded to Professor Hannah Akuffo, who was recognized for her extensive efforts in the field of research, in the immunology of leprosy and the mechanisms of resistance to the infections caused by the parasite leishmania.
Her contributions in this field include showing the importance of natural immunity to leishmaniasis in humans, and the consequences of co-infection of HIV with the leishmania infection. Her studies also include significant efforts to develop an affordable tool for the diagnosis of the causative agent of river blindness. At present, she is involved in the study to find a method for improving the results of the anti-tuberculosis vaccine, BCG, in low income countries, through de-worming.
She has served a telling 12 years in the research steering committees of the World Bank , the United Nations Development Program and the World Health Organizations’ special program on Tropical Disease Research. And yet, with all of these achievements, she still finds the capacity to supervise PHD candidates, mentor young scientists, chair the European Malaria Vaccine Initiative and raise three daughters!