South Africa, 2009: Marie-Lise Gougeon

An important factor in getting the world to recognize the medical importance of apoptosis was the recognition that most of the loss of CD4+ cells in patients with AIDS was apoptosis of uninfected bystander cells, suggesting that their suicide might be preventable. The most important contributor to this idea was Marie-Lise Gougeon. Her impeccable research, documentation, and elaboration of mechanisms built the case for the importance of cell suicide in the presence of virus, the ability of viruses to control the fate of host and bystander cells, and the necessity of providing support for cells that can be protected.


The ideas that she generated or helped to promulgate have led to HAART (Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy) and therapies based on cell support. In addition to her outstanding research, she is active in the social ramifications of the disease, traveling throughout the world to learn about the geographic and population aspects of AIDS, and to train workers in the most effective and affordable means of treatment and prevention.