Medical Physiology
Welcome to Stellenbosch University

Centre for Cardio-metabolic Research in Africa (CARMA)



The Centre for Cardio-metabolic Research in Africa (CARMA), officially hosted in the Division of Medical Physiology, was founded in 2020, and is lead by Prof Faadiel Essop (Director) and Prof Hans Strijdom (Deputy Director). The Centre also has a strong presence and membership in the Department of Physiological Sciences (Faculty of Science). In our Division, CARMA was preceded by the Cardiovascular Research Group, which was originally founded in 1960. Recent reports in the literature are pointing to an accelerated prevalence of cardiovascular diseases (including ischaemic heart disease) in South Africa, among others due to increasing trends of epidemiological transition, higher prevalence of cardio-metabolic risk factors (e.g. diabetes mellitus, obesity and vascular pathology) and a growing interplay with communicable diseases such as HIV. In view of the fact that cardiovascular disease remains a major cause of morbidity and mortality in South Africa, the mandate of our research programme is to pursue research into in vivo, ex vivo and in vitro  aspects of different pathophysiological states of the cardiovascular system, with special attention to the South African perspective. 
CARMA is keen on initiating and forging collaborations with other research groups and entities that have similar research interests, nationally or internationally. For any enquiries about our group, our research, postgraduate or post-doc opportunities, or collaboration initiatives, please contact Prof Faadiel Essop ( or Prof Hans Strijdom (e-mail:

Research Focus Areas

Project Leaders

  • Prof Hans Strijdom (BMedSc, MBChB, PhD): Hans Strijdom is a clinician-turned-academic, and currently Professor and Head of the Division of Medical Physiology and Deputy Director of the Centre for Cardio-metabolic Research in Africa at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. His broader research focuses on the physiology and pathophysiology of the cardiovascular system, with a particular interest in vascular and endothelial biology. He is currently investigating the interaction between HIV and cardio-metabolic changes in people living with HIV.
  • Prof Faadiel Essop (PhD): Cardio-metabolic diseases, HIV-related cardiovascular diseases onset and progression, Stress-related cardio-metabolic diseases onset and progression.
  • Prof Barbara Huisamen (PhD): The involvement of the ataxia-telangiectasia mutated (ATM) protein in the development of a diabetic cardiomyopathy; The role of mitophagy during ischaemia and reperfusion of the heart in obesity related insulin resistance and the potential of melatonin to influence these processe; Fractionation of extracts of Cyclopia species and their potential anti-obesity properties (in collaboration with Dr C Pheiffer at the MRC); The possible use of substances isolated from Aspalatus linearis as anti-diabetic and cardioprotective substances (in collaboration with Dr R Johnson at the MRC)
  • Dr Erna Marais (PhD): The role of Exchange protein directly activated by cAMP (Epac) in the protection against ischaemia/reperfusion injury of the heart; Epac’s (exchange protein directly activated by cAMP) role in obesity-induced cardiovascular diseases by exerting anti- endothelial dysfunction and vasculoprotective effects; The treatment effect of Rooibos tea on vascular dysfunction and signalling mechanisms of diet-induced obese rat aortas.
  • Dr Derick van Vuuren (PhD): Protein phosphorylation and the balance between kinase and phosphatase activity in myocardial ischaemia-reperfusion injury.
  • Dr Shantal Windvogel (PhD): The modulating effects of indigenous plants (Rooibos, Honeybush and Sutherlandia) on vascular function and antioxidant enzyme activity in various animal models at risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Dr. Gerald Maarman (PhD): Cardio-Pulmonary physiology and pathophysiology (clinical and basic science). Underlying mechanisms of pulmonary arterial hypertension and heart failure in the context of infectious diseases (TB and HIV).

Research Team

  • Hans STRIJDOM (B.Med.Sc., MB.Ch.B,. Ph.D): Professor, Head of the Division of Medical Physiology, Deputy Director of the Centre for Cardio-metabolic Research in Africa (CARMA) and Project Leader (
  • Faadiel ESSOP (B.Med.Sc. (Hons), Ph.D) Professor and Director of the Centre for Cardio-metabolic Research in Africa (CARMA) and Project Leader (​
  • Barbara HUISAMEN (Ph.D.): Extraordinary Associate Professor and Project Leader (
  • Erna MARAIS (M.Sc., Ph.D.): Senior Lecturer and Project Leader (
  • Derick VAN VUUREN (M.Sc., Ph.D.): Senior Lecturer and Project Leader (
  • Shantal WINDVOGEL (Ph.D.): Senior Lecturer and Project Leader (
  • Amanda GENIS (Ph.D.): Senior Research Assistant (
  • Gerald MAARMAN (Ph.D.): Lecturer and Project leader (
  • Ingrid WEBSTER (Ph.D.): Technical Officer and Researcher (
  • Hanel SADIE-VAN-GIJSEN (Ph.D.): Senior Researcher and Project Leader (
  • Marguerite BLIGNAUT (Ph.D.): Part-time Researcher and Project Leader (
  • Festus KAMAU (MB.Ch.B, Ph.D.): Postdoctoral Fellow (
  • Frans EVERSON (Ph.D.): Postdoctoral Fellow (


P.hD. students (2021): 

  • Danelle BOTHA
  • Charnay CUNNINGHAM
  • Tracey JOOSTE
  • Tembeka NYAWO

M.Sc. students (2021): 

  • Thato KGATLA
  • Sarah HARRIES 
  • Boipelo KGOKANE
  • Anri KOTZE
  • Joshua MATTHEE
  • Dintle MOLOPI
  • Sharnay NAIDOO
  • Nini OBOBYE
  • Kauthar PARKER
  • Carmen PAYNE
  • Michael RABELA
  • Ilze Verona WILLEMSE

B.Sc. (Hons) students (2021): 

  • Robyn WHITE
  • Robin BOWDEN
  • Yushra DINNIE
  • Hannah FOKKENS
  • Corné GROBLER
  • Velmein HENDRIKS
  • Dr Steve JACOBS
  • Timony MILLER​
  • Erin ROBSON
  • Cornél VLOK