Consultant shortlisted for international award 

20/01/2010 00:00 

A UCLH consultant in infectious diseases who was left fighting for his life after being struck down by crippling meningitis has been shortlisted for a prestigious international award honouring him for his contribution to global healthcare.

Professor Alimuddin Zumla

Professor Alimuddin Zumla

Professor Alimuddin Zumla has dedicated his career to preventing others from suffering the devastating effects of similar infectious diseases, particularly in countries where AIDS, tuberculosis and other respiratory infections are endemic.

He is one of 10 candidates short listed for the BMJ lifetime achievement award by a panel of judges from 117 nominations.

The winner – to be announced in March - will be decided by members of the public voting through an online BMJ website. You can cast your vote for Professor Zumla by visiting the website . Scroll down and click on the candidates name (Professor Alimuddin Zumla), then the ‘vote’ icon. The deadline for voting is 15 February.

Professor Zumla was a young junior doctor at Hammersmith Hospital when he contracted tuberculosis meningitis from a patient he was treating. Within hours he lapsed into a coma, lying in a hospital bed at UCH.

When he regained consciousness three weeks later, he was temporarily paralysed from the neck down.

“I went home in a wheelchair and friends felt awkward around me. My life had changed so quickly and dramatically but my consultant at UCH, Dr Gerald Stern encouraged me to keep going and he said: 'Don’t give up. I know you will bounce back and one day you will return as a professor'. And that’s what eventually happened!

“It took me 18 months to fully recover but there was a happy ending. I fell in love and married Farzana, the nurse who was looking after me!”

Since then he has had a very successful and productive career which has been rewarded with a Platinum Award by the NHS.

Professor Zumla is professor of infectious diseases and international health at University College London Medical School, as well as holding an honorary consultant post at UCLH.

He treats patients with infectious diseases at The Heart Hospital and UCH. His clinical research work has resulted in major improvements in the prevention and management of infectious diseases around the globe and his expertise has helped develop international policy guidelines on TB and HIV.

He added: “I am the only short listed candidate specialising in infectious diseases and it is nice to have our contributions to improving global health be publicly recognised. I hope it will give visibility to the work my team and I am doing.”

The winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award will be announced at a high-profile ceremony in London on March 10. Competition promises to be intense: the other nine shortlisted candidates are the world’s eminent experts in their particular clinical field who have been chosen for their 'unique and substantial contribution to improving health care, whether in clinical practice, public health, health policy, medical education, or medical research'.

UCH microbiology service manager David Baker thinks he certainly deserves our vote.

“Ali is well-respected throughout the world and is an eminent specialist in his field but he has never let it go to his head. He’s down-to-earth, very likeable and the type of person everyone would like as their colleague. He certainly wins my vote!”

Cast your vote at

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