Welcome to Stellenbosch University

​Department of Psychiatry

​Imaging in Neuroscience Workgroup


​​​​IMAGINE Group members





Soraya Seedat
MBChB, MMed (Psych), PhD

Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry
DST-NRF Chair in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
Co-director, MRC Anxiety and Stress Disorders unit

Research focus

Assessment and treatment of anxiety disorders with a special interest in clinical and translational work in childhood and adult posttraumatic stress disorder.


Alex Doruyter

Specialist nuclear physician
Division of Nuclear Medicine, Tygerberg Hospital
PhD scholar, MRC Clinician Researcher Programme

Research focus

Molecular brain imaging and functional connectivity in social anxiety disorder and how these correlate with measures of social cognition.

Leigh van den Heuvel

MBChB, FCPsych, Med (Psych)
Psychiatrist, Department of Psychiatry
Project manager: Understanding the SHARED ROOTS of NPDs and CVD

Research interests

The impact of chronic stress on the interaction between NPDs and metabolic syndrome. 


Jonathan Carr

MB ChB, MSc (Med), FCP (SA) Neurology
Professor and Head, Division of Neurology, Tygerberg Hospital and Stellenbosch University

Research interests
Aetiology of neurodegenerative disease, particularly Parkinson's disease, from both a genetic and environment perspective.


Louise Warnich

BSc, MSc, PhD
Professor in Human Genetics
Dean, Faculty of Science, Stellenbosch University  

Research interests
Variability in drug response due to heredity, with a specific focus on antipsychotic treatment response outcomes.


Bonga Chiliza                                                              

MBChB, FCPsych, PhD
Senior Lecturer & Senior Specialist Psychiatrist
Stellenbosch University & Tygerberg Hospital

Research interests
Efficacy of long-acting injectable antipsychotics in first-episode schizophrenia; Clinical trials of antipsychotic & alternative medication; Language & cultural barriers to mental health.


Dana Niehaus

MBChB, MMed (Psych), DMed
Associate Professor and Psychiatrist, Department of Psychiatry & Stikland Hospital

Research interests
Obsessive-compulsive disorder, psychopharmacology, genetic underpinnings of schizophrenia, and medical education.


Laila Asmal

MBChB, FCPsych, MMed (Psych), MSc (Clin Epid), PhD
Associate Professor and Psychiatrist, Department of Psychiatry

Research focus
Neuropsychiatry and first-episode psychosis.


Soraya Bardien

Professor in Molecular Biology and Human Genetics

Research interests
Genetic causes of Parkinson's disease (PD) in the South African population and molecular mechanisms underlying the development of the disorder.


Robin Emsley

MBChB, DCH, FCPsych, MMed (Psych), DMed, DSc
Professor of Psychiatry
Sarah Turoff Endowed Chair in Schizophrenia Research

Research interests
Psychopharmacology of schizophrenia.


Christine Lochner
Associate Professor in Clinical Psychology
Co-director: SAMRC Unit on Risk and Resilience in Mental Disorders

Research interest
Phenomenology, psychobiology and neuroimaging of psychiatric disorders with apparent compulsive/impulsive features.


Sian Hemmings

Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry

Research interests
Molecular aetiology of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and related disorders.


Stefan Du Plessis

Clinician researcher, Department of Psychiatry

Research interests

Use of functional and structural neuroimaging to study psychopathologies in South African populations; Development of a Virtual Reality Exposure therapy for PTSD.

Freda Scheffler

BA Language and Cultures, MA Psychology

Research Assistant and PhD Candidate, Department of Psychiatry

Research interests

The relationship between stress and craving in substance use; Utilising virtual reality in the treatment of substance use disorders; The effect of substance use on outcome in schizophrenia spectrum disorders.

Olivia Matshabane

BA, BA (Hons), MA, PhD

Neuroethics Researcher, Department of Psychiatry

Research interests

Neuroethics and the Ethical, Legal, Social, and Cultural Implications of Neuropsychiatric Genomics.​​