The Golda Selzer Prize will be awarded to the MBChB student who shows the most potential in Virology during her semester 3 to 5 undergraduate training. The award is made on behalf of the University of Cape Town's MBChB class of 1961 to honour the memory of Golda Selzer.
Dr Selzer is remembered as a great teacher of basic science and taught pathology with verve and flair. Her approach to medical education was ahead of her time. She introduced students to their first patients and thought that pathology should be taught in tandem with clinical medicine. This integrated approach is the preferred method of teaching basic sciences and pathology in medical schools across the world today. She was an excellent experimental virologist and immunologist with a special interest in poliomyelitis and rubella.
Golda Selzer was a role model for women, and an excellent mentor. Many of her students became world class academics and leaders in their field. Golda was the co-founder of SHAWCO in 1943. At SHAWCO, medical students still serve the neediest sectors of the community and experience primary medical care. She was SHAWCO honorary life president until her death. The SHAWCO Golda Selzer Community Health Centre was opened in her memory in 2006.
Golda Selzer was born in Brandfort in the Orange Free State in 1910. She received her MBChB from of the University of Cape Town in 1932. Golda was acting superintendent at the City Hospital in Infectious Diseases in 1934 and subsequently joined the Pathology Department at the Medical School of the University of Cape Town at Groote Schuur hospital. The South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) created the Virus Research Unit in the Department of Pathology in 1948 under Professor Van den Ende and Dr Selzer was part of this very dynamic team. Dr Selzer and Prof Alfred Polson were one of the first researchers to grow the polio virus in tissue culture and describe its physical and antigenic properties. She also developed a mouse model to understand the development of paralytic polio. Dr Selzer was the first person to grow the Rubella virus from an aborted foetus from a mother who had been infected with Rubella. This was a key link in understanding the genesis of congenital cardiac defects associated with children born from mothers infected with this virus. In 1971, she went to work in the Pathology Department of the Tel Hashomer Hospital in Israel. Dr Selzer published extensively with over 50 articles of which more than 15 were on Poliomyelitis.
Golda was married to the legendary physician Professor Forman in 1934. It is told that they both returned to work in the afternoon after they married and were greeted by an archway of stethoscopes by the 6th yr students, porters and ambulance drivers! They have two sons, Arthur who is a retired physical chemist and Robert a Professor in Medicine. They lived in Rondebosch from 1936 and loved the Cape flora with a special interest in the indigenous orchids. They visited Israel frequently after Professor Forman retired from the Chair of Clinical Medicine at UCT. They moved to Israel in 1971 but returned annually to Cape Town for summer vacations. Dr Selzer died in 1999 at the age of 89.