Immunology Research Group
Welcome to Stellenbosch University

Stellenbosch University Immunology Research Group


The team

Management

Associate Professor Katharina Ronacher

Tel: +27 21 938 9069
kron@sun.ac.za

Leader of Immune-Endocrine Interaction Group

Principal Investigator and Senior Scientist

Katharina gives​ direction to the Immune-Endocrine Interaction Group within SUN-IRG as principal investigator on projects in this field.

Please see her scientist profile.  


Dr Nelita du Plessis

Tel: +27 21 938 9400
nelita@sun.ac.za

Leader of TB Cellular Immunology Group

Laboratory Manager

Senior Scientist

Nelita is the leader of the TB Cellular Immunology Group within SUN-IRG, providing direction for research in this field.

As laboratory manager, she supervises all activities that occur within the laboratory.  This includes the scheduling of staff, implementation of proper laboratory procedures and standard operating procedures according to ISO15189, and equipment management.

Please see her scientist profile.   


Dr Léanie Kleynhans

Tel: +27 21 938 9069
leaniek@sun.ac.za

Biosafety Level 3 Laboratory Manager

Animal Studies Manager

Researcher

Léanie oversees laboratory work for our group in the Biosafety Level 3 laboratory, ensuring all safety standards are being complied with.  She also drives the establishing of the experimental animal house and will manage this facility which is currently under construction.

Please see her scientist profile


Andrea Gutschmidt

Tel: +27 21 938 9400
andreag@sun.ac.za

Flow Cytometry Core Facility Manager (CAF Lite)

Clinical Trial Lab Manager

Andrea manages the flow cytometry facility ensuring equipment services and staff training are up to date.  She also oversees the development of standard operating procedures for clinical trials for whom SUN-IRG acts as laboratory.


Susanne Tönsing

Tel: +27 21 938 9069
stonsing@sun.ac.za

Clinical Project Coordinator

Project coordination is led by Susanne Tönsing. She is responsible for effective coordination of progress report inputs and submissions, assisting in proposal and progress report writing, and grants management, as well as effective communication and information sharing between project partners. She also assists with administration within SUN-IRG.


Dr Fanie Malherbe

Tel: +27 21 938 9399
malherbe@sun.ac.za

Fieldwork Manager and Study Clinician

Dr Elizna Maasdorp

Tel: +27 21 938 9399
emaasdorp@sun.ac.za

Fieldwork Manager and Study Clinician

The fieldwork managers oversee the field staff and are responsible for general logistics at the field sites as well as any clinical problems the field staff may encounter while consulting study participants.

Prof Gerhard Walzl

 gwalz@sun.ac.za

Head of Stellenbosch University Immunology Research Group

Leader of TB Biomarker Group

Principal Investigator and Senior Scientist

Gerhard leads SUN-IRG as principal investigator for most of our projects.

Please see his scientist profile


Dr Andre Loxton

Tel: +27 21 938 9399
gl2@sun.ac.za

Leader of Vaccine Immunology Group

Resource Manager

Senior Scientist

Andre heads up the Vaccine Immunology Group within SUN-IRG, as well as managing resources for the whole group, overseeing grants, procurement and staff appointments.

Please see his scientist profile.


Dr Novel Chegou

Tel: +27 21 938 9069
novel@sun.ac.za

Leader of TB Diagnostic Group

Senior Scientist

Novel leads research into TB Diagnostics within the Immunology Research Group, and also manages the multiplex cytokine array platforms (Luminex and MSD)

Please see his scientist profile


Liesel Muller

Tel: +27 21 938 9839
lmuller@sun.ac.za

Quality Assurance Manager

The quality assurance manager is responsible for establishing and maintaining the quality system essentials for SUN-IRG. Our aim is to maintain a quality assurance program which complies to ISO 15189 to ensure proper handling and processing of clinical samples. Quality Assurance includes all the activities undertaken by our group to ensure that reliable and accurate testing and research is undertaken at all times. These activities include document control, laboratory audits, management review, sampling, handling and storage of samples, control of non-conforming work, complaints, corrective actions, as well as technical and quality records. This is accomplished through a continuing program to improve upon operational systems and procedures.


Bronwyn Smith

Tel: +27 21 938 9839
bronwynt@sun.ac.za

Laboratory Team Leader

The Laboratory Team Leader coordinates the daily flow of laboratory projects, ensuring that all study activities run smoothly.


Prof Gian van der Spuy

Tel: +27 21 938 9402
gvds@sun.ac.za

Data manager


Kim Stanley

Tel: +27 21 938 9402
kstanley@sun.ac.za

Data Manager

The database managers assist with the organisation, storage and access to information within databases, as well as modelling and designing in-house databases to meet the needs of specific studies. Apart from building new databases, they are also in charge of monitoring data entry procedures.


​​​

Postdoctoral Researchers

The post-doctoral fellows recently completed their doctoral degrees and conduct full-time research. A Postdoctoral Research Fellowship provides opportunities for the development of professional and research skills with the intent to transition to independent scholars.

Caroline Beltran

Tel: +27 21 938 9400
cbeltran@sun.ac.za

 

 

Dr Léanie Kleynhans

Tel: +27 21 938 9069
leaniek@sun.ac.za

 

 

Zhuo Fang

Tel: +27 21 938 9400
zf@sun.ac.za

 ​

 

Research Assistants

The research assistants are involved in the processing and storing of samples that are brought in from the field sites or other clients.  They  process and test samples following study specific standard operating procedures in the laboratory, and utilize a wide range of laboratory techniques.


 

Bronwyn Smith

Tel: +27 21 938 9839
bronwynt@sun.ac.za

Belinda Kriel

Tel: +27 21 938 9839
belindak@sun.ac.za

 

Nonjabula Makhoba

Tel: +27 21 938 9839
nmakhoba@sun.ac.za

Andrea Gutschmidt

Tel: +27 21 938 9400

andreag@sun.ac.za

Devon Allies

Tel: +27 21 938 9839
devona@sun.ac.za

 

Nicole Prins

Tel: +27 21 938 9839
nbprins@sun.ac.za

Kennedy Zvinairo

Tel: +27 21 938 9839
tkenny@sun.ac.za​​​

Vinzeigh Leukes

Tel: +27 21 938 9839
vnleukes@sun.ac.za​​​

Field staff

The research nurses recruit participants for the current studies at the research sites and conduct study procedures such as history taking and sample collection according to the study-specific protocols and follow up schedules.
Clinical research assistants and field assistants support the work of the nurses and play an important role in the follow-up of patients, frequently conducting home visits to participants who missed appointment dates in order to retain them for the ongoing studies.
The drivers' responsibilities are mainly transport of study participants to the research site or to special investigations, as well as quality assured sample transport, ensuring temperature stability and safe arrival of biological samples to the research laboratory.

Charmaine Abrahams

Research nurse

Tel: +27 21 938 9399
charmaine@sun.ac.za

Kathy Swartz

Research nurse

Tel: +27 21 938 9399
kswartz@sun.ac.za

Leilani Abrahams

Field assistant

Trudi Persence

Field assistant

Roslyn Pienaar

Driver

Shirley McAnda

Research nurse

Tel: +27 21 938 9399
shirleym@sun.ac.za

Helen Dakada

Clinical research assistant

Tel: +27 21 938 9399
hdakada@sun.ac.za

Maria Didloff

Field assistant

Jaftha Kruger

Driver​

Students

Dolapo Awoniyi

Tel: +27 21 938 9400
dawoniyi@sun.ac.za

 

PhD student

​​Project title: Immunological markers of active TB and early treatment response indicators.


Happy Tshivhula

Tel: +27 21 938 9839
tshivhula@sun.ac.za

 

PhD student

Project title: Identification of distinct bio-signatures in whole blood and live Mycobacterium tuberculosis stimulated peripheral blood mononuclear cells of TB household contacts with and without type 2 diabetes.


 


Ilana van Rensburg

Tel: +27 21 938 9839
ilanavr@sun.ac.za

 

MSc student

Project title: The impact of B-cell activation on the T-cell immune response to Mycobacterium tuberculosis


Mosa Selamolela

Tel: +27 21 938 9839
mosa@sun.ac.za

 

MSc student

Project title: Bioprofiling of TB patients with and without type 2 diabetes before and during TB treatment.

Leigh Kotze

Tel: +27 21 938 9839
lakotze@sun.ac.za

 

 MSc student

Project title: Identification of Host Biomarkers for Tuberculosis Treatment Response.


Jessica Klazen

Tel: +27 21 938 9839
jkk@sun.ac.za

 

 MSc student

Project title: Investigating the role of immune-endocrine alterations during type 2 diabetes associated with changes in Mycobacterium tuberculosis growth.


Fanie Malherbe

Tel: +27 21 938 9399
malherbe@sun.ac.za

 

PhD student

Project title: The use of 18F FDG PET/CT scans to determine pulmonary Tuberculosis treatment response.


Carine Kunsevi-Kilola

Tel: +27 21 938 9400
kunsevicaryn@sun.ac.za

 

PhD student

Project title: Characterisation of human alveolar macrophage and blood monocyte derived macrophage responses to Mycobacterium tuberculosis in TB household contacts with and without type 2 diabetes.



Ruschca Jacobs

Tel: +27 21 938 9839
rjacobs@sun.ac.za

 

MSc student

Project title: Evaluation of host markers detected in plasma and saliva as diagnostic tools for TB disease and monitoring of treatment response.