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University of Johannesburg professor, Heather Brookes, has been awarded the Science  Prize for Online Resources in Education by the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s journal Science, along with colleagues from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases.

The award was given for the development of Immunopaedia, a website to educate health professionals about the relevance of immunology for clinical diagnosis and treatment. The award winning website is featured in an article by Professor Brookes and her colleagues in the current issue of Science.

Immunopaedia is the first South African online initiative to receive the prestigious Science Prize for Online Resources in Education (SPORE). The US-based SPORE awards have been established to encourage innovation and excellence in education, for the provision of high-quality on-line resources accessible to students, teachers and the public.

In the midst of the devastating HIV epidemic, South African paediatricians are treating as many as 100 infected children per day. The overwhelming caseloads provide little time for clinicians to review even the basic information they were offered in medical school on the topic of immunology. Although this is an area often considered a laboratory science with little clinical application, immunology helps physicians to understand factors contributing to HIV pathology.

South African immunologist, Prof. Clive Gray, recognised the potential value of an understanding of up-to-date immunology in the treatment of HIV, and subsequently developed Immunopaedia, a website which quickly and efficiently gives doctors a working knowledge of immunology through real-life case studies and news of immunology breakthroughs.

The information provided by the website can facilitate the diagnosis of a range of immune-mediated diseases, including HIV, or provide information on the appropriate combination of drug treatments that complement, rather than nullify, each other.

To read the entire article click on UJ