Welcome to Stellenbosch University

Centre for C​​​ardio-metabolic Research in Africa (CARMA)​

Postgraduate Tr​aining
A key mission of CARMA is to offer world-class postgraduate training for biomedical and medical students and also to nurture the future generations of African biomedical scientists. CARMA therefore aims to act as a focal point of capacity development and career development activities for postgraduate students and the future generation of research leaders. Although it is roughly calculated that Africa requires about 1, 000 doctorate science graduates per million people, the current pipeline falls far short of this target. This has resulted in a relatively limited research capacity across the African continent, except for a few pockets of excellence. This is due to several reasons including inadequate research facilities and infrastructure, and the lack of a critical mass of experts needed to sustain and drive biomedical research. It is therefore our aim to empower and train the identified individuals in order to build the future generation of faculty and biomedical researchers to especially serve the needs of the African continent. It is also the aim to upskill the leadership potential of such individuals in order to eventually play a broader role, e.g. disseminating factual information to the general public regarding important health issues and research findings, ensuring that policymakers make evidence-based decisions regarding complex health issues, and lobbying governments for increased financial support to sustain and expand research and development within the African context. CARMA regularly arranges seminars/webinars on a wide variety of topics, e.g. scientific writing skills, the nature of science, how to successful enter the job market, etc. 


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Our current student cohort is:

​Post-doc​toral Fellow

Dr Eman Teer

Qualifications: MBChB and PhD
Research Focus: HIV-mediated CVD (cardiac fibrosis), HIV immunology, immune cells response and immune dysregulation, and flow cytometry
Host: Prof. Faadiel Essop

Dr Taahirah Boltman

Qualifications: BSc Medical Biosciences (UWC); BSc Medical Biosciences (Hons); MSc Nanosciences (Cum Laude (UWC); PhD Medical Biosciences (UWC)​
Research Focus: Altered mitochondrial function and HIV-associated
cardiometabolic disease in populations from South Africa and
Kenya (MITO-SAKen).
Host: Prof Hans Strijdom

Dr Jeffery Adoga

Qualifications: BSc (Medical Physiology); Msc (Physiology) and PhD Health Sciences (Physiology)
Research Focus: Altered mitochondrial function and HIV-associated
cardiometabolic disease in populations from South Africa and
Kenya (MITO-SAKen).
Host: Prof Hans Strijdom

Dr Olakunle Sanni

Qualifications: BSc (Biochemistry), Msc (Medical Biochemistry), PhD (Biochemistry).
Research Focus: Pulmonary Artery Pressures in Pulmonary Tuberculosis Study (Investigating the inflammatory, endothelial, and mitochondrial pathways that underpin the development of pulmonary arterial hypertension post-tuberculosis).​
Host: Dr Gerald Maarman


Danelle Botha

Qualifications: BSc (Human Life Sciences; cum laude), BSc Hons (Medical Physiology, cum laude) and MSc (Medical Physiology; cum laude).
Project: Investigating a potential role for ATM protein kinase in the ER stress response in cardiovascular pathology.
Supervisor: Prof Barbara Huisamen and co-supervisors: Dr Marguerite Blignaut and Dr Derick Van Vuuren


Megan Cairns

Qualifications: BSc (Biology) in Human Life Sciences; BSc Hons in Physiological Sciences and MSc in Physiological Sciences (SU, cum laude).
Research Project: Investigating the effects of chronic stress on cardiovascular function. 
Supervisors: Prof. Faadiel Essop and co-supervisors: Dr Derick Joseph and Dr. M Vlok


Charnay Cunningham

Qualifications: Bsc Medical Bioscience, BSc (Hons) Medical Bioscience (Cum Laude) and MSc Nanoscience (Cum Laude).
Research Project: The effect of particle therapy on tumour angiogenesis.
Supervisors: Prof. Hans Strjidom and co-supervisors Dr Amanda Genis, Dr Charlot Vandevoorde and Dr Julie Bolcaen


Ilze Verona W​illemse

Qualifications: BSc (Humanlife sciences with Physiology Genetics and Microbiology), BSc Hons (Medical Physiology) and PGCE
Project: Asphalathus linearis as a possible SGLT2-inhibitor: Investigating the anti-hypertensive effects of Green Rooibos extracts.
Supervisors:  Prof Barbara Huisamen and co-supervisors Dr Erna Marais and Dr Shantal Windvogel

Joshua Matthee

Qualifications: BSc (Human Life Science); BSc (Hons) (Medical Physiology) and MSc(Medical Physiology) and MSc (Medical Pysiology)
Project: Characterising the effects and underlying mechanisms of mitochondrial-targeted, orientin enriched nanoparicles (NPs) in MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells.
Supervisor: Dr Gerald Maarman and co-supervisor Dr Admire Dube

Hannah Fokkens

Qualifications: BMedSci (Physiology-Cum Laude); BSc Hons (Medical Physiology-Cum Laude) and MSc(Medical Physiology-Cum Laude)
Project: Genome-wide analysis of DNA methylation signitures and the risk of developing hypertension in a South African population
Supervisor: Prof. Rabia Johnson and co-superviso Dr Jyoti Sharma and Prof. Hans Strijdom

Thato Kgatla

Qualifications: BSc (Human Life Science) and BSc Hons (Molecular and Life Sciences)
Project: Investigating the novel roles of metallothioneins in rooibos-induced cardioprotection using a cardiomyoblast model of angiotensin II-induced hypertrophy and apoptosis
Supervisor: Dr Gerald Maarman and co-supervisor Dr Erna Marais


Sara Shaboodien

Qualification: BSc (Human Life Science), BSc Hons. (Medical Physiology - Cum Laude)
Project: The novel effect of Aspalathus Linearis (Rooibos) on platelet derived growth factor-induced proliferation of rat pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells (RPASMC)
Supervisor: Dr G Maarman and Dr E Marais 


Chrisstoffel Jum​aar 


Qualifications: BHSc. Medical Laboratory Science (Distinction) (CPUT)

Project Title:  Investigating the usefulness of a novel plasma 5-marker host biosignature to identify pulmonary arterial hypertension in a post-tuberculosis context in a South African cohort.
Supervisors: Dr G Maarman 



Jasmine Andrews


Qualifications: BSc Medical Bioscience (UWC), BSc (Hons) Med Phys (SU)

Project Title:  Investigating the links between chronic stress and autophagy in​ hepatic and cardiac tissue from female Wistar rats. 

Supervisor: Prof MF Essop; Co-supervisor: Ms Megan Cairns

Anique Wolmarans


Qualifications: BSc Bioschemistry and Physiology, BSc (Hons) Medical Physiology
Project Title:  The effect of Cannabis and Psilocybin on the brain.

Supervisor: Prof B Huisamen; Co-supervisor: Dr Lihle Qulu

Garth Wentley


Qualifications: BSc Human Life Sciences, BSc (Hons) Medical Physiology
Project Title: Delineating the novel effects of melatonin in differentiated C2C12 myotubes in the presence and absence of pathology
Supervisor: Dr G Maarman


Stephen Southway


Qualifications: BSc Human Life Science, BSc (Hons) Medical Physiology
Project Title: Evaluating the biphasic effect of metformin in a 3D cardiomyoblast model of insulin resistance.

Supervisor: Dr M Blignaut​

Amy Pretor​​ius


Qualifications: ​​BSc Medical Bioscience (UWC), BSc Hons Medical Physiology
Project Title: Comparing the effectiveness of Imatinib and Melatonin against Endothelin-1-induced proliferation of human umbilical vein endothelial cells.​

Supervisor: Dr G Maarman

Sesethu Ketse


Qualifications: ​​BSc (Microbiology and Physiology) and BSc Hons (Molecular Biology)
Project Title: DNA methylation profiling for breast cancer diagnosis in South African womens.

Supervisor: Dr Tarryn Willmer and co-supervisors Dr Lawrence Mabasa (SAMRC) and Prof. Hans Strijdomn

Nokulunga Mlaba


Qualifications: ​​BSc (Microbiology and Biochemistry) and BSc Hons (Medical Microbiology)
Project Title: Establishing and characterization of novel AC16 human ventricular spheroid model

Supervisor: Dr Marguerite Blignaut

​​​Kheya Mokoena


Qualifications: ​​BSc Human Life Science, BSc Hons Biochemistry
Project Title: Is mitochondrial dysfunction a putative marker for cardiometabolic disease in people living with HIV?

Supervisor: Prof H Strijdom; Co-supervisor: Dr Ingrid Webster

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