Dr Suventha Moodley, a TB researcher at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS), was recently awarded a three-year Career Development Fellowship from the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP).
Moodley is a postdoctoral research fellow with the Clinical Mycobacteriology and Epidemiology (CLIME) research group of the Molecular Biology and Human Genetics Division at the FMHS.
The EDCTP programme supports clinical research, research capacity development and international networking in order to accelerate the clinical development of effective, safe, accessible, suitable and affordable medical interventions for poverty-related infectious diseases affecting sub-Saharan Africa.
The purpose of the Career Development Fellowship is to support early to mid-career researchers by providing them with an opportunity to train and develop their clinical research skills.
By the end of 2021, the EDCTP would have spent over 40 million euros to support 201 career development fellowships, such as the one Moodley was awarded.
Moodley is doing research on the role of microbiome, microbiome-associated metabolites and antimicrobial resistance during various stages of the TB disease spectrum. Her aim is to make a contribution to the fight against poverty-related diseases, such as TB, in sub-Saharan Africa. Ultimately, the aim is to reduce the social and economic burden associated with these diseases.
She was born and raised in KwaZulu-Natal and completed her undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Medical Microbiology at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Her MSc and PhD degrees both focused on the topic of TB.
She relocated to the Cape to pursue her postdoctoral research as part of the CLIME group at Stellenbosch University.
Over the years she has been awarded numerous scholarships, including the NRF innovation and scarce skills scholarship, the Professional Provident Fund (PPS) bursary, and USAID. In her free time, she enjoys photography, and likes to explore the Cape Winelands.
"The EDCTP career development fellowship will afford me the opportunity to advance my computational and technical training (via international training visits) with the main aim of investigating the emergence of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) amongst ESKAPE (a collective name for six highly virulent and antibiotic-resistant bacterial pathogens) bacteria in people with tuberculosis," says Moodley.
The importance of this research cannot be overstated, given the challenges posed by AMR and TB.
"This is a key public health issue because it represents the intersection of two profound challenges facing global health: AMR, designated by international agencies as the biggest future healthcare problem, and TB, the most common infectious cause of death," adds Moodley.
TB was the leading cause of death in South Africa from 2016 to 2018, according to Stats SA. South Africa's high HIV infection rate plays a significant part in the high number of TB deaths.
She adds that the EDCTP fellowship will afford her the opportunity to grow existing collaborations, and to form new ones with other fellows.
"I was very excited about this opportunity to expand my collaborations and training in my chosen field," according to Moodley.