Prof. Bongani Mawethu Mayosi, a prominent South African cardiologist and member of the Lancet NCDI Poverty Commission, died on July 27, 2018, at the age of 51. Dr. Mayosi dedicated his life’s work to clinical care, research, and advocacy to address neglected cardiac diseases that disproportionately affect poor and vulnerable populations in Africa. His reputation for kindness, collegiality and humility will long be remembered and his colleagues in South Africa and across the world will continue to honor his mission and work in his memory.
The South African Parliament honored Dr. Mayosi’s legacy as “one of the finest brains and passionate health experts who still had so much more to offer the nation.” What Dr. Mayosi had already offered to the nation, the African continent, and the world will not be forgotten and cannot be overvalued. “In many ways, Bongani Mayosi was the inspiration behind the work of this Commission,” Lancet NCDI Poverty Commission Co-Chairs Gene Bukhman and Ana Mocumbi observed. “He was not only a fellow Commissioner but our mentor. We will miss him and try to honor his memory.”
Dr. Mayosi’s research led him to become an authority on tuberculous pericarditis, acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease and the genetic etiology of cardiomyopathy. His professional achievements and awards were numerous. At 38 years old, he was appointed as the chair and head of the Department of Medicine at University of Cape Town (UCT) and Groote Schure Hospital in 2006. During his long tenure, he transformed the department into the leading African department of medicine. He also received South Africa’s highest honor, the Order of Mapungubwe in 2009 for excellent contributions to medical science. In 2016, he was appointed as the dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at UCT and held that position until his passing. Also, in that same year, Mayosi received an Honorary Fellowship of Wolfson College, University of Oxford and in 2017, he was inducted into the U.S. National Academy of Medicine.
Dr. Mayosi was driven to help train and build up the next generation of clinical researchers that would be capable of tackling the high burden of neglected diseases of poverty afflicting sub-Saharan Africa. This work continues as part of the South African Department of Health’s Public Health Enhancement Fund which is sponsoring 1000 PhDs over the next decade. More information about Professor Mayosi’s life and research can be found in the following journals: The Lancet, CVJA, Nature and JACC.