Prof Jean Nachega was recently honoured by the African Academy of Science (AAS) when he was accepted as a fellow. Nachega is the Director of the Centre for Infectious Diseases, and an extraordinary professor in the Department of Medicine at Stellenbosch University's Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.
The inductee ceremony for new fellows took place during the general assembly of the AAS in Pretoria at the end of last year.
The AAS, which has its headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, is an Africa-wide organisation which serves to strengthen the continent's scientific community. It supports the publication and dissemination of scientific materials, research development and policy, as well as capacity-building in science and technology. The AAS promotes the development of the research and technology base throughout the continent and honours African scientists who are internationally renowned for achievements in their respective fields.
Nachega, who is also an associate professor in epidemiology, infectious diseases and microbiology at the University of Pittsburgh in the United States, said he is humbled to be honoured by the AAS.
“I happily accept this on behalf of the incredibly talented and dedicated researchers, collaborators, students and staff on my team, as well as our funders in Africa, Europe and the USA. I look forward to working as an active fellow of the AAS to further strengthen the existing ties between the Academy and Stellenbosch University in order to establish a win-win relationship and have a lasting impact in Africa," said Nachega.
He noted that in his specialty, infectious diseases, there remains many opportunities for additional research. “Over the past decade, we have extended the lives of people living with HIV/Aids because of effective antiretroviral treatment, which is a big achievement. The research priorities now include the quest for an effective vaccine against HIV/Aids and eventual cure."
“Although the life expectancy of HIV-infected individuals increases with effective antiretroviral therapy, these patients remain at a higher risk of multi-morbidity and mortality than the general HIV-uninfected population. Long-term antiretroviral treatment-related toxicity, persistent inflammation and lifestyle have been hypothesized as mechanisms by which non‑communicable diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney diseases, chronic liver disease, and neuropsychiatric disease increase in frequency with the ageing of the HIV-infected population."
Nachega said that as a fellow of the AAS he will, among other things, help identify opportunities for research collaboration to help quantify the burden of these HIV comorbidities and evaluate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of preventive and treatment strategies in sub-Saharan Africa. He will also continue his teaching, networking and public speaking – all in the cause of promoting excellence in science in Africa.