Molecular Biology Human Genetics
Welcome to Stellenbosch University

​​Division of Molecular Biology and Human Ge​​​netics​

 SU News

 

 

Africa-Europe CoRE-GHA Consortium experts convene at SU to advance genomic researchhttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=10430Africa-Europe CoRE-GHA Consortium experts convene at SU to advance genomic researchCERI Media and Communication <p>​The Cluster of Research Excellence in Genomics for Health in Africa (CoRE-GHA) consortium recently gathered at Stellenbosch University's (SU) Tygerberg campus for its first in-person meeting on January 16 and 17, 2024. This marked a significant step forward in fostering collaborative genomic research across continents, setting the stage for dynamic collaboration and promising advancements in health research.<br></p><p>Initiated by The African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) and The Guild of European Research-Intensive Universities (The Guild), the Africa-Europe CoRE project officially launched on June 19, 2023.  The  CoRE Genomics for Health in Africa  is co-led by Prof Tulio de Oliveira, Director of the Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation (CERI) and Prof Shahida Moosa, Head of Medical Genetics at Tygerberg Hospital and SU, together with Prof Carmen Faso and Prof Volker Thiel from the University of Bern in Switzerland, and Prof Olaf Riess and Dr Tobias Haack from the University of Tübingen in Germany.<br></p><p>De Oliveira emphasized the importance of the meeting, stating: "it is important to meet and strategize on how we will be using genomics to revolutionize public health in Africa and Europe. Together, we can benefit from the large term experience of Africa dealing with infectious diseases and Europe with advancing personalized medicine".<br></p><p>The recent meeting focused on critical aspects of consortium development, with the establishment of working groups tasked with fundraising, matchmaking, website content creation, and the development of teaching materials. CoRE-GHA's specific areas of emphasis include rare diseases, cancers, pandemic preparedness, and infectious diseases. This strategic approach sets the stage for dynamic collaboration and promising advancements in genomic research for the benefit of public health in both Africa and Europe.</p><p>Faso, co-chair of the Multidisciplinary Center for Infectious Diseases at University of Berm, highlighted the collaboration's mutual benefits. "This collaboration is for the benefit of both people in Europe and in Africa. These two days are fundamental in ensuring a sustainable consortium and innovative ideas."<br></p><p>Riess, who heads the largest human genomics facility at Tübingen University in Germany, stressed the significance of joining forces with Africa. "It is important for us to join forces with Africa and ensure the sustainability of this collaboration. By doing so, we are increasing capacity and expanding on our rare diseases knowledge base for both Europe and Africa."</p><p>Moosa expressed excitement about advancing genomics for health, stating: "We are very excited and geared up to advance genomics for health. This cluster focuses specifically on Rare Disease and Cancer genomics, and finding genome-based solutions for Precision Medicine. This is the start of a promising journey unlocking the African genome to optimize health for ALL on the continent."</p><p>This was the first time this meeting was held at SU, and it was attended by senior scientific leaders from the Germany, Switzerland, South Africa, and Kenyan Universities. Participants in this inaugural meeting included representatives from Rhodes University, University of KwaZulu-Natal, the University of Nairobi, SU, University of Glasgow, the University of Bern, and the University of Tübingen. Other universities involved in this consortium include University of Ghana, University of Rwanda and University of Groningen. This meeting signifies a crucial step forward in utilizing genomics to revolutionize public health in Africa and Europe, emphasizing a promising journey towards a healthier future for all.​</p>
Single mother’s grit takes her from rural village to PhD in Molecular Biologyhttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=10394Single mother’s grit takes her from rural village to PhD in Molecular BiologyCorporate Communication & Marketing / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie & Bemarking [Alec Basson]<p>​​Raised in the small village of Nemangwe in the Midlands Province of Zimbabwe, 40-year-old Dr Rachiel Gumbo was always destined for bigger things. She has literally and figuratively come a long way since she finished high school. Showing grit and determination, Gumbo scaled the heights of academic success when she obtained her doctorate in Molecular Biology on Tuesday 12 December 2023 at Stellenbosch University (SU)'s December graduation. <br></p><p>But on her way to a PhD, she had to overcome a few challenges. </p><p>The oldest of three siblings, Gumbo obtained a BSc Honours Degree in Biological Sciences from Midlands State University in Zimbabwe in 2005 but could not continue with her studies due to a lack of grants and bursaries. She ended up working as a laboratory assistant at Hwange Colliery Hospital Laboratory and teaching mathematics, physical science and biology to high school learners. </p><p>Although she had to take this detour, Gumbo says she is grateful for having had the opportunity to teach. “Teaching was an incredibly worthwhile experience as it boosted my confidence, taught me to be patient with pupils, creative and above all, it gave me a good sense of humour."</p><p><strong>Changing fortunes</strong></p><p>In 2007, the single mother of two boys moved to South Africa to further her studies, but funding was hard to come by as a non-citizen. </p><p>To make ends meet, Gumbo offered private after-school lessons to learners and also did part-time tutoring with Education Matters in Cape Town before taking a job as a secretary at Forest Creations (Pty) Ltd, a woodwork company in the City. Her fortunes changed, however, in 2018 when she responded to a posting by Prof Michele Miller from SU's Division of Molecular Biology and Human Genetics for a new student to join the Animal TB Research Group. Miller would later become her supervisor along with Dr Tanya Kerr from the same division. “When I joined the group in 2019, my dream of continuing my studies became a reality," says Gumbo.</p><p>After obtaining her BSc Honours in Molecular Biology from SU in 2019, Gumbo enrolled for a MSc in the same field. Such was the quality of her research, that the Master's was upgraded to a PhD. This is a remarkable and rare achievement in academia. While busy with her doctorate, Gumbo published seven articles in international academic journals and received a prestigious scholarship from the Germany Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). She says her biggest challenge as an older international student studying at a South African University was scholarship eligibility, which threatened to derail her studies. </p><p><strong>PhD research</strong></p><p>Gumbo's PhD focused on developing immunological tests for improving the detection of animal tuberculosis (TB) in lions, leopards and cheetahs in South Africa. Animal TB is a serious chronic infectious disease caused by infection with <em>Mycobacterium bovis</em> (<em>M. bovis</em>) in cattle and other domesticated animals, as well as many wildlife species, with potential transmission to humans. </p><p>According to Gumbo, several cheetahs, lions and leopards have died because of animal TB. Since <em>M. bovis</em> can be introduced into uninfected populations, and species-specific immunological tests for diagnosis of animal TB are limited, she developed a diagnostic test that can distinguish between <em>M. bovis</em>-infected and uninfected lions, leopards and cheetahs using commercially available kits.</p><p>“The development and incorporation of species-specific diagnostic tests for routine screening of lions, leopards and cheetahs are essential for early detection of TB in wildlife to allow prompt responses from veterinarians, researchers, and managers to prevent the spread of infection and enhance disease control," says Gumbo. </p><p>“Research focussing on animal TB has a broad impact on human health, food security and the livelihoods of rural African communities who rely on ecotourism as their primary source of income.  A better understanding of animal TB will help to protect Africa's vulnerable wildlife species and unique biodiversity."</p><p><strong>Faith</strong></p><p>Looking back on her journey, Gumbo says she was driven by the desire to improve the quality of her life and that of her children. “When things got tough, I kept reminding myself that I am doing this for my kids."</p><p>As a person of faith, Gumbo believes in the power of divine intervention. “I relied mainly on my faith as I juggled raising my two boys and pursuing my studies. I believe that God himself placed my supervisors Prof Michele Miller and Dr Tanya Kerr on my path to support me professionally and personally and to help me reach the pinnacle of academic success."</p><p>Gumbo's supervisors speak glowingly about her.</p><p>“Rachiel was a model student and demonstrated the passion and commitment to become a scientist. Her positive attitude and warm personality have made her a 'favourite' in our division. We are incredibly proud of her accomplishments and look forward to having her join us as a post-doctoral fellow in 2024."</p><p>Having had to overcome a few obstacles along the way, Gumbo has a message for women who may experience similar difficulties. “Firstly, don't let your background define you, and do not allow anybody to tell you that you can't do it. Although tears may be shed along the way, there is always light at the end of the tunnel."</p><p>When she not doing research, Gumbo loves to bake and try out new food recipes. “My older son loves food, so I attempt to cook different meals that I have not tried before. But sometimes I do flop". In addition to baking and cooking, she enjoys playing chess and watching WWE wrestling with her sons. Gumbo also loves athletics and used to be a discus thrower.</p><ul><li><strong>Photo</strong>: Dr Rachiel Gumbo at the graduation. <strong>Photographer</strong>: Stefan Els</li></ul><p> </p><p>​<br></p>
PhD candidate awarded coveted Women in Science prizehttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=10304PhD candidate awarded coveted Women in Science prizeFMHS Marketing & Communications<p>​<br><br></p><p>Esther Uwimaana is one of 30 women scientists on the continent being recognised for their work by the 14<sup>th</sup> L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Young Talents Sub-Saharan Africa Awards.</p><p>Uwimaan, who hails from Uganda, is working towards her PhD in Molecular Biology at Stellenbosch University's Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS), where she is conducting research on potential vaccines for tuberculosis.</p><p>Each year, the L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Young Talents Sub-Saharan Africa Awards recognise and support African women scientists for the excellence of their research. The 30 winners—of which 25 are PhD candidates and five postdoctoral researchers—have been selected among 632 applicants.</p><p>“As bearers of hope and innovative solutions for the African continent, the 30 scientists of the L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science 2023 Young Talents Sub-Saharan Africa Awards are investing in multiple fields of research. Using unprecedented approaches, they tackle major challenges to improve the quality of life in Africa and worldwide," reads a statement issued by the L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science.</p><p>“The 30 young talents—biochemists, epidemiologists, ecologists, artificial intelligence experts and public health specialists—from 18 different African countries are all committed to finding long-term solutions to the continent's diverse challenges. They are all a real source of inspiration for future generations."</p><p>Explaining her research, Uwimaana, says she is examining the potential of <em>Mycobacterium tuberculosis</em> antigens as vaccines against tuberculosis. “This involves priming human immune cells with mycobacterial proteins and peptides, followed by challenging the human cells with bacteria and observing whether these cells kill the bacteria," she explains. “My findings could be used to develop effective vaccines to keep people safe from tuberculosis and contribute to the fight against infectious diseases."</p><p>As for her chosen career path in science, Uwimaana says she feels privileged to be able to inspire girls in her village, and showing them that a career in science is possible. “The increase in opportunities for women is gradually breaking societal norms, however we still need to convince African families of the value of girls' education, create more role models and enable women scientists to work free of inequality and discrimination."</p><p>The L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Young Talents Sub-Saharan Africa Awards enable its laureates to benefit from financial support to help them conduct their research projects—grants of €10 000 (nearly R200 000) for PhD candidates and €15 000 (nearly R300 000) for postdoctoral researchers. The 2023 Young Talents' cohort will join a community of more than 200 African researchers who have been supported an honoured since the creation of this regional programme in 2010.</p><p>“Enabling women scientists to emerge in the public arena and be recognised for the quality of their work requires urgent action. It's everyone's responsibility—institutions, companies and civil society. Neither Africa nor the world can successfully respond to the environmental, societal, health crises of our time by depriving itself of half of the humanity," says Alexandra Palt, CEO of the Fondation L'Oréal.</p><p><br></p><p>Caption: Esther Uwimaana.​</p>
2023 Research and Innovation Excellence Awards – a celebration of research with impact at SUhttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=102842023 Research and Innovation Excellence Awards – a celebration of research with impact at SUDivision for Research Development | Afdeling Navorsingsontwikkeling <p>​<span style="text-align:justify;">​Stellenbosch University (SU)'s Research and Innovation Excellence Award ceremony was held at STIAS on Monday 30 October 2023. The awards recognised researchers, postdoctoral research fellows and postgraduate students who contributed in one of the award categories: postgraduate students; early career researchers; established researchers; women in research; awards for newly A-rated researchers; postgraduate supervision; technology transfer/innovation; research outputs; The Conversation Africa awards for science communication; postdoctoral research fellows; a DVC Interdisciplinary/Group award; as well as a Rector and Vice-Chancellor'​​​​s Research for Impact Award.</span></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Research-related activities and outputs make a critical contribution to expanding SU's national and international reputation as an excellent research-intensive university that advances knowledge in service of society.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">More importantly is the fact that new knowledge generated at SU in this manner is transferred to a broader national and global audience, thus enhancing the application of research results and the establishment of high-level human capacity. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">The awards therefore give recognition to individuals for their exceptional and excellent contribution towards SU`s research enterprise. They have been engaged in high qualify research, knowledge transfer, or research-related activities over a sustained period of time and therefore deserve acknowledgement for the impact of their work.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">In her opening address, Prof Sibusiso Moyo, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Innovation and Postgraduate Studies at SU, highlighted the fact that SU relies on the research and innovation expertise of its people, excellent infrastructure and an impeccable reputation to deliver high quality training, produce new knowledge and conduct research needed to solve some of the pressing problems in our environment and society. Impactful research is one of the main drivers that measures the value add of SU to knowledge generation and high-end skills training. “We therefore celebrate this group of awardees, but also everyone who has been nominated in the various categories. We also want to thank the Faculties, Departments, Schools, Research Centers and Institutes for creating enabling spaces for these researchers and students to thrive. This year we introduced a nomination process and a few more categories to look at the broader impact of the research beyond focusing only on the number of publications but also the impact of the research outcomes", she added. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Prof Wim De Villiers, Rector, and Vice-Chancellor, congratulated the awardees who contribute to SU's strategic vision of becoming Africa's leading research-intensive institution: “One of SU's core strategic themes is Research for Impact. And the impact our researchers are making - on Stellenbosch University's reputation and influence as a world-class institution that produces excellent research, and within their fields of expertise in South Africa, Africa and beyond – that's a legacy to be proud of."</p><p>You can find the awards ceremony booklet with the names of all the nominees in the different categories here: <a href="https://eur03.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https://bit.ly/3FGNMGJ&data=05%7c01%7c%7c6b8d6e1edf3f41cc4c7e08dbdaccede9%7ca6fa3b030a3c42588433a120dffcd348%7c0%7c0%7c638344345928083384%7cUnknown%7cTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7c3000%7c%7c%7c&sdata=hNgHL90mCiVpbVa4tve2iRFlIWQcHfiY6JsU3Tdn7AE%3D&reserved=0">https://bit.ly/3FGNMGJ</a></p><table cellspacing="0" class="ms-rteTable-default" style="width:100%;"><tbody><tr class="ms-rteTableEvenRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default" colspan="2" style="width:50%;"><strong>Research and Innovation Excellence Awards 2023 awardees: </strong> ​​<br><br></td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableOddRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default" colspan="2"><strong style="color:#60223b;"><span style="color:#60223b;">POSTGRADUATE STUDENT CATEGORY</span></strong><span style="color:#60223b;"> </span><strong style="color:#60223b;"> </strong></td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableEvenRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Dr Megan Bruwer</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Civil Engineering </td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableOddRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Ms Kimberly Coetzer</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Biomedical Sciences</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableEvenRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Ms Elizaveta Koroleva</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Microbiology </td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableOddRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Ms Carmen-Marie Payne</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Medical Physiology </td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableEvenRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Dr Samantha Pillay</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Biomedical Sciences</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableOddRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Dr Tulimo Uushona</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Animal Sciences</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableEvenRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default" colspan="2"><strong>​<span style="color:#60223b;">EARLY CAREER RESEARCHER CATEGORY</span></strong><span style="color:#60223b;"> </span><strong style="color:#60223b;"> </strong></td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableOddRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Dr Bronwyn Coetzee</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Psychology </td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableEvenRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Dr Wynand Goosen</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Biomedical Sciences</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableOddRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Dr Karel Kruger</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Mechanical & Mechatronic Engineering </td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableEvenRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Dr Douglas Parry</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Information Science</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableOddRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Dr Sanjeev Rambharose</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Physiological Sciences </td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableEvenRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Dr Rizwana Roomaney</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Psychology </td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableOddRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Dr Delano van der Linde</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Public Law </td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableEvenRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default" colspan="2"><strong style="color:#60223b;"><span style="color:#60223b;">​ESTABLISHED RESEARCHER CATEGORY </span></strong><span style="color:#60223b;"> </span><strong style="color:#60223b;"> </strong></td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableOddRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Prof Karen Esler</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Conservation Ecology and Entomology </td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableEvenRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Prof Andries Engelbrecht</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Industrial Engineering</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableOddRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Prof Ashraf Kagee</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Psychology </td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableEvenRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Prof Michele Miller</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Biomedical Sciences</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableOddRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Prof Grant Theron</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Biomedical Sciences</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableEvenRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default" colspan="2"><strong style="color:#60223b;"><span style="color:#60223b;">​WOMEN IN RESEARCH CATEGORY - 5 awards</span></strong><span style="color:#60223b;"> </span><strong style="color:#60223b;"> </strong></td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableOddRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Prof Annie Bekker</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering </td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableEvenRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Prof Oonsie Biggs</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Centre for Sustainability Transitions</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableOddRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Prof Zsa-Zsa Boggenpoel</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Private law </td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableEvenRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Prof Catherine Cluver</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Obstetrics and Gynaecology</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableOddRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Prof Marlo Möller</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Molecular Biology and Human Genetics</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableEvenRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default" colspan="2"><strong style="color:#60223b;"><span style="color:#60223b;">​Awards for newly A-rated Researchers</span></strong><span style="color:#60223b;"> </span><strong style="color:#60223b;"> </strong></td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableOddRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Prof Guy Midgley </td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Director: School for Climate Studies</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableEvenRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Prof Gerhard Walzl </td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Molecular Biology and Human Genetics</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableOddRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default" colspan="2"><strong style="color:#60223b;"><span style="color:#60223b;">​Postgraduate Supervision Awards</span></strong><span style="color:#60223b;"> </span><strong style="color:#60223b;"> </strong></td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableEvenRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Prof Dirk de Villiers</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Electrical and Electronic Engineering</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableOddRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Prof Sara Grobbelaar</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Industrial Engineering</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableEvenRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Prof Doreen Kaura</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Nursing and Midwifery</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableOddRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Prof Cletos Mapiye</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Animal Sciences</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableEvenRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Prof Robbie Pott</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Chemical Engineering</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableOddRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Prof Jan van Vuuren</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Industrial Engineering</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableEvenRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default" colspan="2"><strong style="color:#60223b;"><span style="color:#60223b;">​Technology Transfer/Innovation Awards</span></strong><span style="color:#60223b;"> </span><strong style="color:#60223b;"> </strong></td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableOddRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Prof Resia Pretorius</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Physiological Sciences</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableEvenRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Dr Jason Samuels</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Industrial Engineering</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableOddRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default" colspan="2"><strong style="color:#60223b;"><span style="color:#60223b;">​DVC Top Research Output Award</span></strong><span style="color:#60223b;"> </span><strong style="color:#60223b;"> </strong></td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableEvenRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Prof Oluwole Makinde</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Mathematics</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableOddRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Prof Soraya Seedat</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Psychiatry</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableEvenRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Prof Robin Warren</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Molecular Biology and Human Genetics</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableOddRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Prof Bernard Wessels</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Private Law</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableEvenRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Dr Evert Kleynhans</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Military History</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableOddRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default" colspan="2"><strong style="color:#60223b;"><span style="color:#60223b;">​</span><span style="color:#60223b;">​</span><span style="color:#60223b;">The Conversation Africa Awards</span></strong><span style="color:#60223b;"> </span><strong style="color:#60223b;"> </strong></td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableEvenRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Dr Charles MacRobert</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Civil Engineering</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableOddRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Dr Sara Andreotti</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Botany and Zoology</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableEvenRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Prof Amanda Gouws</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Political Science</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableOddRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Mr Wandile Sihlobo</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Agricultural Economics</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableEvenRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default" colspan="2"><strong style="color:#60223b;"><span style="color:#60223b;">​CERTIFICATES OF RECOGNITION</span></strong><span style="color:#60223b;">  </span></td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableOddRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Prof Lungi Nkonki - Future Professors Programme</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Health Systems and Public Health</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableEvenRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Dr Margreth Tadie - Future Professors Programme</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Chemical Engineering</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableOddRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Dr Tongai Gibson Maponga - Future Professors Programme</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Medical Virology</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableEvenRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Dr Uhuru Portia Phalafula - Future Professors Programme</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">English</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableOddRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Prof Nox Makunga - Future Professors Programme</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Botany and Zoology</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableEvenRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Dr Gibson Ncube - Future Professors Programme</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Modern Foreign Languages</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableOddRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Dr Tawanda Zininga - Future Professors Programme</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Biochemistry</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableEvenRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Prof Retief Muller  - for PhDs delivered</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Systematic Theology and Ecclessiology</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableOddRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Prof Johann Cilliers - for PhDs delivered</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Practical Theology and Missiology</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableEvenRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Prof Maureen Robinson - for PhDs delivered</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Curriculum Studies</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableOddRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Prof Marius Ungerer - for research outputs</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">USB</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableEvenRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Prof Florian Krobb - for research outputs</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Modern Foreign Languages</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableOddRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Prof Christof Sauer - for research outputs</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Practical Theology and Missiology</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableEvenRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Dr John Harper - for research outputs</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Old and New Testament</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableOddRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default" colspan="2"><strong style="color:#60223b;"><span style="color:#60223b;">​Postdoctoral Awards</span></strong><span style="color:#60223b;"> </span><strong style="color:#60223b;"> </strong></td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableEvenRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Dr Chioma Ohajunwa - Postdoctoral Research Fellow of the Year Award</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Africa Centre for HIV/Aids Management</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableOddRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Prof Grant Theron - Outstanding Postdoctoral Mentor Award</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Biomedical Sciences</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableEvenRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Dr Natalia Florez Quiroz - Top Postdoctoral Research Fellow Award</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Civil Engineering</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableOddRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Dr Eirik Wik - Top Postdoctoral Research Fellow Award</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Institute of Sport and Exercise Medicine</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableEvenRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Dr Hayley Jackson - Top Postdoctoral Research Fellow Award</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Biochemistry</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableOddRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Dr Suventha Moodley - Top Postdoctoral Research Fellow Award</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Biochemistry</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableEvenRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Dr Lindani Moyo - Top Postdoctoral Research Fellow Award</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Plant Pathology</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableOddRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default" colspan="2"><strong style="color:#60223b;"><span style="color:#60223b;">​DVC INTERDISCIPLINARY/GROUP AWARD</span></strong><span style="color:#60223b;"> </span><strong style="color:#60223b;"> </strong></td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableEvenRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation (CERI)</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">School for Data Science and Computational Thinking </td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableOddRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Institute for Life Course Health Research (ILCHR)</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Global Health</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableEvenRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default" colspan="2"><strong style="color:#60223b;"><span style="color:#60223b;">​</span><span style="color:#60223b;">​</span><span style="color:#60223b;">RECTOR AND VICE-CHANCELLOR`S RESEARCH FOR IMPACT AWARD</span></strong> <strong> </strong></td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableOddRow-default"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-default">Prof Tulio De Oliveira</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-default">Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation (CERI)</td></tr></tbody></table><p> <br></p>
SU study aims to shorten diagnosis for drug-resistant TBhttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=10172SU study aims to shorten diagnosis for drug-resistant TBCorporate Communication & Marketing / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie & Bemarking [Alec Basson]<p>​​Drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) is a global health threat due to high mortality, cost of treatment and risk of transmission. In 2021, there were an estimated 450 000 cases of DR-TB worldwide and 191 000 deaths. South Africa has one of the highest numbers of drug-resistant patients globally, but shockingly only 50% of these patients are started on treatment.<br></p><p>“Drug-resistant TB threatens to derail the World Health Organisation's (WHO) END-TB strategy that aims to eradicate the disease globally by 2035. We therefore need new and improved methods for diagnosing DR-TB in the shortest possible time to curb transmission, improve treatment and save lives," says Dr Brigitta Derendinger from the Clinical Mycobacteriology and Epidemiology (CLIME) Group in the Division of Molecular Biology and Human Genetics at Stellenbosch University's (SU's) Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. </p><p>Derendinger, who recently obtained her doctorate at SU, examined ways in which existing tests to diagnose DR-TB could be improved. She also characterised the programmatic emergence (non-clinical trial patients) of bedaquiline resistance – the first new TB drug in almost 40 years –​ in high-risk patients. Bedaquiline is part of injectable-free treatment regimens for drug-resistant TB.<br></p><p>Derendinger points out that Xpert MTB and RIF Ultra are some of the most widely used tests for the diagnosis of TB and drug resistance, but a second sputum is still needed to verify resistance to rifampicin, which is frequently prescribed to treat TB, and to diagnose second-line resistance. In addition, two WHO-endorsed molecular tests (MTBDRplus and MTBDRsl) are done routinely to confirm a drug-resistant diagnosis and to further diagnose resistance to other drugs. <br></p><p>“Since the roll-out of Xpert, Ultra and MTBDR<em>plus</em> in South Africa, the time from the initial diagnosis of multi-drug-resistant TB to when the patient starts to receive treatment has shortened, but this process is still long.</p><p>​“Furthermore, many countries with a high TB burden lack the biosafety and infrastructure for the extraction of DNA and additional molecular testing. There is, therefore, an urgent need to reduce these diagnostic delays and develop or improve rapid molecular methods to help minimise the reliance on the collection of a second sputum sample."<br></p><p>To help address these shortcomings, Derendinger extracted DNA of <em>Mycobacterium tuberculosis</em> (the bacterium that causes TB) from used Xpert cartridges (cartridge extract – CE) that would otherwise be discarded by laboratories. She showed this by doing first (MTBDR<em>plus</em>)- and second-line (MTBDR<em>sl</em>)<em> </em>TB drug testing from the CE collected from this one cartridge, thus allowing a quicker diagnosis of DR-TB and negating the need to collect a second specimen.</p><p> “We<strong>*</strong> have identified ways to reduce the need for collection of a second sputum sample, thereby potentially reducing the time it takes to make a diagnosis from weeks to a few days. A quicker diagnosis will mean that patients can be placed on treatment sooner.</p><p>“We have identified thresholds to implement to ensure that no test needs to be wasted on CE likely to give an invalid result. This has profound implications, especially in countries like South Africa where patients often do not return to give a second sputum or simply cannot produce one to confirm the diagnosis of drug-resistant TB.<br></p><p>“We also found that by correcting a parameter used in the MTBDR<em>plus</em> and MTBDR<em>sl</em> tests, we can diagnose more patients with DR-TB and place them on effective treatment," adds Derendinger.</p><p>Regarding bedaquiline, she says it is being scaled up rapidly but largely in the absence of TB drug testing.<br></p><p>“The WHO recommends TB drug testing to be done on all patients receiving bedaquiline and to monitor their treatment, but this is not done regularly in South Africa and only a few centralised laboratories have the capacity to do so which causes diagnostic delays.<br></p><p>“Clinical bedaquiline resistance is emerging but the data is scarce, especially in settings where patients are more likely to experience delays and drug shortages, receive less support, and are monitored even less than patients on clinical trials. <br></p><p>“Consequently, these patients can be non-adherent and failing treatment regimens are less likely to be detected, therefore resistance is more likely to be acquired and later transmitted in these settings."<br></p><p>Derendinger emphasises the need to optimise established molecular drug-resistant TB tests and development of new drug-resistant TB tests to monitor resistance to new drugs like bedaquiline to curb the delayed diagnosis and ongoing transmission.<br></p><p>She says the findings of her study have informed WHO course training material and been incorporated into global laboratory performance and quality assessments.<br></p><p><em>*</em><em>Derendinger also acknowledges the contribution that Dr Rouxjeane Venter</em> <em>from the Division of Molecular Biology and Human Genetics at SU made to her research.</em></p><ul><li><strong>​Photo by Umanoide on </strong><a href="https://unsplash.com/photos/tHS9j3HWT1s"><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">Unsplash</strong></a><br></li></ul><p>​<br></p>
Research abounds at the FMHShttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=10160Research abounds at the FMHSFMHS Marketing & Communications – Wilma Stassen<p>​Some of the top-tier research that have placed the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS) among the World University Rankings' 150 top health sciences institutions were on display at the Faculty's 67<sup>th</sup> Annual Academic Day (AAD).</p><p>This auspicious event is one of the highlights on the Faculty's annual academic calendar and was for the first time held in the FMHS' new world-class Biomedical Research Institute (BMRI). Over the course of the two-day event held on the afternoons of 30 and 31 August, more than 120 oral presentations – including eight state-of-the-art lectures* – and 213 poster presentations were shared among the FMHS' assiduous scientific community. </p><p>During the 67<sup>th</sup> AAD opening ceremony, four up-and-coming scientists were recognised for their excellence in research:</p><ul><li>Dr Jane Shaw received the HD Brede Award for Postgraduate Research in Infectious Disease (Clinical Research Category) for a research article published in <em>Scientific Reports</em>: Optimising the yield from bronchoalveolar lavage on human participants in infectious disease immunology research.</li><li>Dr Brigitta Derendinger received the HD Brede Award for Postgraduate Research in Infectious Disease (Biomedical Research Category) for a research article accepted for publication in <em>The Lancet Microbe</em>: Bedaquiline resistance among patients with drug-resistant tuberculosis in Cape Town, South Africa: a retrospective longitudinal cohort study.</li><li>Ms Anné Lermer received the Faculty Award for Academic Excellence in a Master's Programme (Structured Master's Category) for obtaining her MSc in Pharmacology with distinction.</li><li>Ms Chantelise Watkins (Slabbert) received the Faculty Award for Academic Excellence in a Master's Programme (Thesis Master's Category) for obtaining her MSc in Sport Science with distinction.</li></ul><p>In his opening address, Prof Nico Gey van Pittius, FMHS Vice Dean: Research and Internationalisation relayed some of the Faculty's research successes.  “As a faculty we have put in a huge effort to support our students, and grow our number of doctoral and postdoctoral students, and this is reflected in the increased rate of publications we've seen over the last few years," Gey van Pittius said. Annually the FMHS produces as much as 30% of Stellenbosch University's journal articles, and the Faculty is ranked fifth in the world for the number of publications relating to tuberculosis for the past two years. Over the past two decades the FMHS has also shown marked increases in the number of female, African, Indian, and Asian authors, as well as the number of authors under the age of 50. </p><p>“I attribute this to the modern infrastructure and facilities, our cutting-edge technologies, our state-of-the-art equipment, and of course, our people," Gey van Pittius said. “We are doing all of this to make a difference in a country and a continent where there need is great, and we believe that our contributions in terms of medicine and health sciences research, makes a difference in people's lives." </p><p>As is customary, the Faculty Dean, Prof Elmi Muller, delivered a Dean's Address during the opening ceremony, where she covered the topic of using technology and artificial intelligence in health care. “We're at the crossroads of an extraordinary time in health care. An era where the deluge of breakthrough science and revolutionary technology presents us with unprecedented opportunities to change lives, challenge norms, and drive research and innovation to new heights," Muller posited.</p><p>She laid out how artificial intelligence is already being incorporated in our daily lives, and highlighted some of the opportunities it holds for health care practitioners and patients. But she also offered a stern warning. “While we consider this partnership with AI – it can make us smarter, faster and safer – we have to keep in mind that there are some things that are very specific to humans that cannot be replaced. We must keep our hands on the wheel, and we have to make sure that in this complex world we understand what can happen, what can be different, and how we stay in control," Muller concluded. </p><p>The guest speaker, Prof Lynn Morris, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation at the University of the Witwatersrand, delivered a lecture entitled 'Universities as drivers of health research and innovation – a personal perspective', in which she unpacked the role universities played in during the Covid-19 and HIV/AIDS pandemics, and relayed some of her personal experiences as an infectious diseases researcher.</p><p> </p><p>*State-of-the-art lectures</p><table cellspacing="0" width="100%" class="ms-rteTable-default"><tbody><tr><td class="ms-rteTable-default" style="width:33.3333%;">Academic track</td><td class="ms-rteTable-default" style="width:33.3333%;">Presenter</td><td class="ms-rteTable-default" style="width:33.3333%;">Presentation title</td></tr><tr><td class="ms-rteTable-default">Exercise Sport and Lifestyle Medicine</td><td class="ms-rteTable-default">Prof Eileen Africa</td><td class="ms-rteTable-default">The active child – Unlocking their potential through physical activity</td></tr><tr><td class="ms-rteTable-default">Health Professions Education</td><td class="ms-rteTable-default">Prof Ian Couper</td><td class="ms-rteTable-default">E=mc<sup>2</sup>. Is training health professionals relatively simple?</td></tr><tr><td class="ms-rteTable-default">Perioperative Sciences</td><td class="ms-rteTable-default">Prof Nando Ferreira</td><td class="ms-rteTable-default">Current trends in limb salvage and reconstruction surgery</td></tr><tr><td class="ms-rteTable-default">Infectious Diseases</td><td class="ms-rteTable-default">Prof Marlo Möller</td><td class="ms-rteTable-default">Host genetic susceptibility to infectious diseases in diverse populations – an emerging story</td></tr><tr><td class="ms-rteTable-default">Non-communicable Diseases</td><td class="ms-rteTable-default">Prof Carine Smith</td><td class="ms-rteTable-default">Disease modelling and drug discovery – the value of zebrafish</td></tr><tr><td class="ms-rteTable-default">Mental Health and Neuroscience</td><td class="ms-rteTable-default">Prof Leigh van den Heuvel</td><td class="ms-rteTable-default">A hair divides what is false and true, Omar Khayyam – What our hair can reveal about our mental health</td></tr><tr><td class="ms-rteTable-default">Violence, Injuries, Trauma and Rehabilitation</td><td class="ms-rteTable-default">Prof Lieketseng Ned</td><td class="ms-rteTable-default">Technology and violence against women with disabilities: Technology-enabled risk, and resource for resilience in low- and middle-income countries</td></tr><tr><td class="ms-rteTable-default">Maternal and Child Health</td><td class="ms-rteTable-default">Prof Regan Solomons</td><td class="ms-rteTable-default">Are we close to challenging the status quo in Childhood Tuberculous Meningitis</td></tr></tbody></table><p> <br></p><p>​<br></p>
#WomenofSU: Top SU geneticist unlocks mysteries of rare diseases for patients and students https://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=10130#WomenofSU: Top SU geneticist unlocks mysteries of rare diseases for patients and students Corporate Communications and Marketing (Hannelie Booyens)<p><em>​​​In celebration of Women's Month, Stellenbosch University is shining a spotlight on the exceptional women of our institution. As we celebrate the remarkable achievements of female academics with this series of profiles, we also illuminate the transformative power of mentorship. Through their own experiences with mentors, these distinguished members of staff have not only excelled in their fields but also embraced the vital role of mentoring, guiding and inspiring younger colleagues and students towards success, fostering a more inclusive and empowered academic community.</em> <br></p><p><strong>Prof Shahida Moosa</strong> exudes the kind of <em>joie de vivre</em> you'd expect from a lottery winner or someone who's just summited a very high mountain. When you get to know the exceptional scientist, you realise why both analogies are spot on. She considers herself fortunate to be doing the work she loves, and it's been an uphill but exceedingly rewarding journey to the top of her academic field.  </p><p>As an internationally trained clinician-scientist and head of the Rare Disease Genomics research group at Stellenbosch University's (SU) Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Moosa combines clinical work as Head of Medical Genetics at Tygerberg Hospital, where she regularly sees patients, with cutting-edge research into undiagnosed rare diseases.  </p><p>Essentially, it means that she has two full-time jobs. On top of that, she's also a prolific teacher who mentors a large and growing group of mostly young female scientists, not only at the Division of Molecular Biology and Human Genetics at SU but across Southern Africa.  </p><p>Moosa's stature as an academic is illustrated by the fact that she was recently a finalist in two categories of the National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) Awards. “Because I'd studied overseas for long, I didn't quite realise the NSTF Awards are like South Africa's science Oscars! It was such an honour to be nominated. My mom, Aziza, and sister Raazia went with me to the awards ceremony, and we had a lovely time." </p><p>After completing her specialist training at Wits University, Moosa obtained her PhD in Germany (summa cum laude), followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children's Hospital in America. </p><p>The concept of a clinician-scientist is quite new in South Africa, she explains. “It means you studied medicine, did your specialty and then also a PhD. After completing my medical degree, I became a medical geneticist. I was actually the first doctor in South Africa to do genetics as a primary specialty. Previously, you needed to become a paediatrician or an obstetrician and then do genetics. Although the clinical training in South Africa is excellent, the laboratory side of things here is not on par with the rest of the world, that's why I decided to go to Germany." </p><p>At the University of Cologne, Prof Bernd Wollnik became a vital mentor. “He used to give me carte blanche to do whatever I wanted in the lab – no idea I came up with was ever too crazy for him. And he involved me in a lot of clinical work. He helped me optimise all my skills so I could excel in all the fields I was exposed to." </p><p>Another academic, Prof Ida Vogel from Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark, assisted Moosa in getting a grant to complete her PhD research. “Ida has been incredibly supportive of my career ever since and we've become good friends. There are certain people at every juncture in my life that I wouldn't have been able to do things as easily or as successfully had they not supported me unconditionally." </p><p>The primary reason why she came back after studying abroad was to make a difference for South African patients, Moosa explains. Close to 80% of rare diseases are genetic in origin and are collectively estimated to affect up to four million South Africans. Most of these conditions have their onset in childhood and are chronic and disabling. Moosa strives to provide world-class care locally to individuals and families with rare diseases, so they don't have to travel abroad to find answers. She's also passionate about bringing genomic expertise to Africa so medical students and scientists can be trained locally. </p><p>In 2021, Moosa established sub-Saharan Africa's first Undiagnosed Disease Programme (UDP). The UDP is transforming patient lives and provides unique opportunities for capacity building and training for the next generation of genomics experts in southern Africa. The success of the programme has been phenomenal. By using genome sequencing, half of the patients that have been tested so far at Tygerberg Hospital have received a diagnosis. Just this Women's Month, Moosa was awarded the 2023 John M. Opitz Young Investigator Award for the most significant contribution to the <em>American Journal of Medical Genetics</em>, for the publication reporting on the success of the UDP.  </p><p>Moosa's groundbreaking work was given further impetus when she was recently appointed as co-leader of the newly established Africa/European Union Cluster of Research Excellence, <em>Genomics for Health in Africa</em>. “I co-lead the cluster with Prof Tulio De Oliviera. While my focus is on rare diseases and cancers, his focus is on infectious diseases. We're combining the two to drive forward health solutions for not only South Africa but the continent. A big part of that is also training and leadership and development of young people. I'm fortunate to be a mentor in many different parts of my job, whether it's in the hospital, the laboratory or in the community." </p><p>Moosa has been working tirelessly to integrate genetics, a field that is developing at breathtaking speed internationally, into the curriculum at SU. “Whichever medical discipline students will end up specialising in, they're part of a generation of doctors who'll need to know something about genetics and genomics. We've revamped the whole curriculum to bring it up to date with the newest techniques and technological developments."  </p><p>She is grateful for the support she receives from the Early Career Academic Development Programme at SU and she credits Profs Helena Kuivaniemi and Karin Baatjes for the invaluable guidance and mentorship they've given her.  </p><p>When she joined SU at the end of 2019 Prof Jimmy Volmink, then Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, played a significant role in encouraging her to forge ahead and excel despite the challenges at SU and Tygerberg Hospital. He continues to mentor and support her. </p><p>Outside Moosa's office in the brand-new Biomedical Research Institute on the medical campus, there is a wall with photos of all the young researchers she leads in their journey to unlock the mysteries of human genetics. The first thing you notice is that bar two, all of them are women. Moosa has made a concerted effort to bolster female researchers in a field that is still very much male-dominated.  </p><p>Almost all her students have graduated cum laude, she says with a big smile. “I'm so proud of all of them. Jessica Cormick is currently one of my star MSc students. She's doing groundbreaking research and she brings so much joy and enthusiasm to our research group."  </p><p>Mentoring is never a one-way street, Moosa notes. She's inspired by her students' resilience and their commitment to not only academic excellence but also supporting each other, their families and their communities while dealing with financial and everyday challenges. It's clear that her students are also inspired by her example of prioritising patient needs while setting the highest possible standards for clinical care and research.  </p><p>With everything she has on her plate, Moosa says it takes careful planning to unwind. She enjoys going for walks and swimming, but due to a shoulder injury, she can't currently do vigorous exercise. Painting is a hobby she tries to make time for, but if she doesn't get around to it, she finds joy in small things. “Sometimes a wildflower is all it takes to make me happy. I find meaning in religion and a connection to God. I'm very close to my family, which is good for my mental health." </p><p>Both Moosa's siblings, Raazia and Sumayya, have PhDs too and the formidable sisters are clearly grateful to have a cheerleader mom in their corner. “My mom always says: 'Don't give up. Just keep going, keep going!'"  </p><p>As a woman, she's had to fight a bit harder in the scientific world, Moosa admits. She mentions a recent incident when a male plastic surgeon who was visiting patients in a ward assumed she was a junior staff member. She laughs as she describes how the young registrar visibly gasped when it dawned on him who he was talking to.  </p><p>“While the playing field is not quite level women in science, we need to find ways to become more resilient and look after ourselves, whether it's as mentors and students or part of networks of peers. We need to forge ahead because the future of science is female and diverse." </p><p>Although Moosa's expertise and academic achievements equip her with the freedom to work anywhere in the world, she is blissfully happy where she is now. “This particular building on this particular campus of this particular university is exactly the place I need to be," she says.​<br></p><p><strong>PHOTO: Stefan Els</strong></p><p>​<br></p>
Brushing shoulders with Nobel Laureateshttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=10108Brushing shoulders with Nobel LaureatesDr Nabila Ismail<p>​<br><br></p><p><em>Dr Nabila Ismail is a research scientist in the <a href="/english/faculty/healthsciences/Molecular_Biology_Human_Genetics/Pages/default.aspx" style="text-decoration:underline;"><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">Division of Molecular Biology and Human Genetics</span></a> at Stellenbosch University's <a href="/english/" style="text-decoration:underline;"><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences</span></a>. She was selected to attend the</em><em> </em><em>72</em><em><sup>nd</sup></em><em> <a href="https://mediatheque.lindau-nobel.org/meetings/2023" style="text-decoration:underline;"><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">Lindau Nobel Laureate meeting</span></a> in Lindau, Germany, in June this year. She gives a first-hand account of her experience at this auspicious event.</em></p><p>From 23 to 30 June 2023, over 600 young scientists from around the world attended the 72<sup>nd</sup> Lindau Nobel Laureate meeting in Lindau, Germany (#LINO23). These meetings are a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet with Nobel prize-winning scientists, fellow young scientists, and the broader scientific community to engage, understand, inspire, connect, and educate one another on the true meaning of being a scientist in this day and age. </p><p>In order to be invited to this meeting, young scientists under the age of 35 who are among the top 5% of their class and show excellence in their research, go through a multi-stage application. I applied for this meeting in 2019 and I was initially accepted for the 2020 meeting, which had to be cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The invitation was then rolled over to the 2023 meeting. I was one of nine South African scientists that were selected and sponsored by the <a href="https://www.assaf.org.za/" style="text-decoration:underline;"><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">Academy of Science of South Africa</span></a> (ASSAf) to attend the meeting. </p><p>I feel extremely honored to be one of the 635 scientists globally to attend this year's meeting, and furthermore, to be one of the 40 scientists selected and trained to present my work in the Next Generation Science talks at the meeting. </p><p>During the week-long gathering, the entire island of Lindau was transformed into a science extravaganza – from lectures in the city theatre to meetings with Laureates on the streets or in a restaurant. The island was alive and buzzing with scientific discourse and ideas! </p><p>The research on display was diverse, and so were the scientists – there were scientists from 89 nationalities present! I am fortunate to come from a diverse background: I am a Muslim, Indian, female, South African scientist, and a mother, and I could connect with a range of different individuals relating to each of these defining characteristics. </p><p>My research focuses on the bacteria associated with tuberculosis (TB), a disease which results in the deaths of over 4 000 people daily. To attend a meeting and remind other scientists of the impact a micro-organism can have, reiterates the impact of my research on drug-resistant TB. ​<br><br></p><p>Read more:</p><ul style="text-decoration:underline;"><li><a href="https://yiba.co.za/sa-scientists-to-the-72nd-lindau-nobel-laureate-meeting/"><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">Pre-departure orientation by the DSI</span></a></li><li><a href="https://www.lindau-nobel.org/blog-health-and-diseases/"><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">Nobel Lindau blog on health and diseases</span></a></li><li><a href="https://womeninresearchblog.wordpress.com/2023/06/24/nabila-south-africa/?fbclid=IwAR1ABbnIHGy2cIwG9LIIMEq97U7M3N3YfVNwESdUbuPYNNmi_pO_fW9vLQA"><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">Nobel Lindau blog as a woman in science</span></a></li><li><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">​</span><a href="https://www.lindau-nobel.org/current-meeting/"><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">Lindau website</span></a></li></ul><p>​<br></p><p>Photo captions: <br></p><ul><li>Nabila Ismail with Nobel Laureate Frances Arnold (left).</li><li>Nabila Ismail with South African born Nobel Laureate Michael Levitt (top middle).</li><li>Nabila Ismail with Nobel Laureate Morten Meldal and his wife, Phaedra Marie St. Hilaire (top right).</li><li>Nabila Ismail presenting at the Next Generation Science Talks (bottom).</li></ul>
Prof Gerhard Walzl receives A-rating from NRFhttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=10017Prof Gerhard Walzl receives A-rating from NRFCorporate Communication & Marketing / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie & Bemarking [Alec Basson]<p>​One of Stellenbosch University (SU)'s eminent scientists, Prof Gerhard Walzl, Head of the Department of Biomedical Sciences in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, received his first A-rating from the National Research Foundation (NRF) recently. <br></p><p>Walzl's rating puts SU's total of A-rated researchers at 21 – the most ever at the institution. SU now boasts a total of 504 NRF-rated researchers. </p><p>An A-rating is the highest achievable rating for researchers on the NRF's rating system. A-rated researchers are unequivocally recognised by their peers as leading international scholars in their respective fields for the high quality and impact of recent research outputs. </p><p>A clinician scientist, trained in internal medicine, pulmonology and immunology, Walzl, who is also a Distinguished Professor, leads the multi-disciplinary Immunology Research Group in the Division of Molecular Biology and Human Genetics at SU. </p><p>He was honoured by the NRF for his outstanding research on the immunology of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) infection and in particular host biomarkers, including diagnostic markers and markers of TB treatment response and of protective immunity against MTB. </p><p>Commenting on his A-rating, Walzl said it signifies the leading role that South African scientists can and do play. He added that this is only possible through sustained collaboration both within the country and globally, and through the support of the university and South Africa and global funders of an exceptional team.</p><p>“My team is humbled by this recognition and grateful that more than two decades of hard work is seen as meaningful and cutting edge. It also shows that our research topic, immunology and biomarkers of TB, is seen as important. At the same time, we recognise that the job is not at all done and that a lot has to happen before one can say that health sciences have made a meaningful dent into the devastating TB challenge."</p><p>Prior to receiving an A-rating, Walzl was honoured by the South African Medical Research Council with a gold medal for Outstanding Lifetime Scientific Contributions to Health Research and also elected a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa in 2021. In the same year, an international research team led by him received the EDCTP (European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership) Scientific Research Team Prize.</p><p>Walzl has played a leading role in several international multisite projects funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the EDCTP and the US National Institute for Health. Under his leadership, the Department of Biomedical Sciences was instrumental in the recent launch of the state-of-the-art Biomedical Research Institute at SU, the most cutting-edge and advanced biomedical research complex of its kind in Africa. </p><p>Walzl has published widely on biomarkers for TB treatment response and contributed significantly to educational activities by supervising more than 30 postgraduate students during the past 15 years. He has also submitted six different patent applications, two of which were granted and four are still pending.</p><p>The NRF rating system is a benchmarking system whereby individuals who exemplify the highest standards of research, as well as those demonstrating strong potential as researchers, are identified by an extensive network of South African and international peer reviewers. Ratings are based on the quality and impact of recent research outputs (over an eight-year period).</p><ul><li>Click <a href="/english/research-innovation/Research-Development/Pages/ratedlist.aspx"><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">here</strong></a><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0"> </strong>for a list of SU's NRF-rated researchers.<br></li></ul><p><strong>​Photo by Stefan Els</strong><br></p>
Training the next generation of African scientific leaders in global healthhttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=10011Training the next generation of African scientific leaders in global healthMedia Statement - African Academy of Science<p>​The <a href="https://aasciences.africa/" style="text-decoration:underline;"><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">African Academy of Sciences (AAS)</span></a> has partnered with the <a href="https://www.nih.gov/" style="text-decoration:underline;"><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">US National Institutes of Health</span></a> and the <a href="https://www.gatesfoundation.org/" style="text-decoration:underline;"><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation</span></a> to strengthen African scientific leadership and advance health and development goals on the continent.<br></p><p><a href="/english/" style="text-decoration:underline;"><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">Stellenbosch University</span></a>'s Dr Carine Kunsevi Kilola is one of 10 outstanding early-career scientists from nine African countries to have been awarded four-year fellowships that will build their capacity to conduct cutting-edge research in global health. The fellowships will be awarded through the <a href="https://aas-tau.vercel.app/Programmes/APTI" style="text-decoration:underline;"><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">African Postdoctoral Training Initiative</span></a> (APTI) programme, which is implemented by the African Academy of Sciences in partnership with the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.</p><p>The APTI programme was established in 2019 to strengthen research capacity in African countries and develop ongoing scientific partnerships. APTI Fellows are trained and supported to become scientific leaders who can advocate for increased research and innovation projects in Africa. This is done through four-year postdoctoral fellowships where APTI Fellows join various laboratories of the NIH Institutes or Centres for two years before returning to their home institutions in Africa for another two years of programme support. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's support to the postdoctoral fellows includes seed funding for their research upon their return to their home institution.<br></p><p>Dr Peggy Oti-Boateng, Executive Director at the African Academy of Sciences, says “Investing in early-career scientists is a vital ingredient in the transformation of Africa into a knowledge-based and technology-led continent. The AAS is committed to facilitating research and innovation exchanges to enhance African research leadership to transform lives in the continent and deliver the 'Africa We Want'."<br></p><p>This third cohort of the APTI Fellows (APTI 3) - five women and five men - will assume their positions in NIH host labs in October 2023. Their research activities will focus on specific global health research priority areas including human immunobiology, microbiome research, drug discovery, genomics, HIV, malaria, maternal, neonatal and child health.<br></p><p>“This joint effort brings outstanding early-career African researchers to NIH and strengthens our research partnerships and research capacity in Africa over the long run," said Dr Peter Kilmarx, acting director of the Fogarty International Center and acting associate director for International Research at NIH. “We're thrilled to welcome these 10 new exceptional scientists with diverse research interests."<br></p><p>The APTI 3 Fellows represent the best research talent on the continent, competitively selected from 296 applicants. The 10 new fellows join two other active cohorts whose details are available on the <a href="https://aas-tau.vercel.app/Programmes/APTI#grantees" style="text-decoration:underline;"><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">APTI Programme</span></a> webpage.</p><p> </p><p><strong>Cohort 3: African Postdoctoral Training Initiative Fellows (2023)</strong></p><ul><li><b>Fellow: Carine Kunsevi Kilola<br></b>Home institution: Stellenbosch University<br>Country: South Africa<br>Research area: Maternal and child health<br></li></ul><ul><li><strong>Fellow: Alphonsus Ugwu<br></strong>Home institution: Redeemer's University<br>Country: Nigeria<br>Research area: Human immunobiology for surveillance<br></li></ul><ul><li><strong>Fellow: Amadou Niangaly<br></strong>Home institution: University of Sciences, Techniques and Technology of Bamako<br>Country: Mali<br>Research area: Malaria monoclonal antibodies</li></ul><ul><li><b>​Fellow: Daniel Amoako-Sakyi<br></b>Home institution: University of Cape Coast<br>Country: Ghana<br>Research area: Microbiome and immune responses in children</li></ul><ul><li><strong>​Fellow: Diana Marangu<br></strong>Home institution: University of Nairobi<br>Country: Kenya<br>Research area: Respiratory health in children</li></ul><ul><li><strong>Fellow: Kaelo Seatla<br></strong>Home institution: Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership<br>Country: Botswana<br>Research area: HIV genomics</li></ul><ul><li><strong>Fellow: Lobe Maloba<br></strong>Home institution: University of Buea<br>Country: Cameroon<br>Research area: Drug discovery</li></ul><ul><li><strong>Fellow: Rita Boateng<br></strong>Home institution: Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research<br>Country: Ghana<br>Research area: Malaria mol surveillance / antimalarial resistance</li></ul><ul><li><strong>Fellow: Vinie Kouamou<br></strong>Home institution: Charles River Medical Group<br>Country: Zimbabwe<br>Research area: HIV vaccine development / cure​<br></li></ul><ul><li><strong>Fellow: Yaovi Hounmanou<br></strong>​Home institution: University of Abomey-Calavi<br>Country: Benin<br>Research area: Genomics for surveillance</li></ul><p>​<br></p><p><em>Caption: </em><em>Dr Carine Kunsevi Kilola</em><br></p>