Medical Physiology
Welcome to Stellenbosch University

Cardiovascular Research Group ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​


The Cardiovascular Group in the Division of Medical Physiology, which forms part of the Centre for Cardio-metabolic Research in Africa (CARMA), was originally established in 1960. Recent reports in the literature are pointing to an accelerated prevalence of cardiovascular diseases (including ischaemic heart disease) in South Africa, among others due to increasing trends of epidemiological transition, higher prevalence of cardio-metabolic risk factors (e.g. diabetes mellitus, obesity and vascular pathology) and a growing interplay with communicable diseases such as HIV. In view of the fact that cardiovascular disease remains a major cause of morbidity and mortality in South Africa, the mandate of our group’s research programme is to pursue research into in vivo, ex vivo and in vitro aspects of different pathophysiological states of the cardiovascular system, with special attention to the South African perspective. For more information on the Cardiovascular Research Group, the research that we conduct in the group, and postgraduate or post-doc opportunities, please contact Prof Hans Strijdom ( or Prof Faadiel Essop ( Visit the Centre for Cardio-metabolic Research in Africa (CARMA) homepage on the following link: 

Research team
  • Prof Hans Strijdom (BMedSc, MBChB, PhD): Hans Strijdom is a clinician-turned-academic, and currently Professor and Head of the Division of Medical Physiology and Deputy Director of the Centre for Cardio-metabolic Research in Africa at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. His broader research focuses on the physiology and pathophysiology of the cardiovascular system, with a particular interest in vascular and endothelial biology. He is currently investigating the interaction between HIV and cardio-metabolic changes in people living with HIV.
  • Prof Faadiel Essop (PhD): Cardio-metabolic diseases, HIV-related cardiovascular diseases onset and progression, Stress-related cardio-metabolic diseases onset and progression.
  • Prof Barbara Huisamen (PhD): The involvement of the ataxia-telangiectasia mutated (ATM) protein in the development of a diabetic cardiomyopathy; The role of mitophagy during ischaemia and reperfusion of the heart in obesity related insulin resistance and the potential of melatonin to influence these processe; Fractionation of extracts of Cyclopia species and their potential anti-obesity properties (in collaboration with Dr C Pheiffer at the MRC); The possible use of substances isolated from Aspalatus linearis as anti-diabetic and cardioprotective substances (in collaboration with Dr R Johnson at the MRC)
  • Prof. Erna Marais (PhD): The role of Exchange protein directly activated by cAMP (Epac) in the protection against ischaemia/reperfusion injury of the heart; Epac’s (exchange protein directly activated by cAMP) role in obesity-induced cardiovascular diseases by exerting anti- endothelial dysfunction and vasculoprotective effects; The treatment effect of Rooibos tea on vascular dysfunction and signalling mechanisms of diet-induced obese rat aortas.
  • Dr Shantal Windvogel (PhD): The modulating effects of indigenous plants (Rooibos, Honeybush and Sutherlandia) on vascular function and antioxidant enzyme activity in various animal models at risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Dr Gerald Maarman (PhD): Cardio-Pulmonary physiology and pathophysiology (clinical and basic science). Underlying mechanisms of pulmonary arterial hypertension and heart failure in the context of infectious diseases (TB and HIV).
  • Dr Hanél Sadie-Van Gijsen (PhD): Obesity; metabolism; animal models of diet-induced obesity and metabolic dysregulation (DIO/DIMD); adipose tissue; adipose stem cells; the impact of natural products and pharmaceuticals on metabolism and adipose tissue function​.
  • Dr Marguerite Blignaut (PhD): The characterisation of molecular pathways as well as mitochondrial function and dynamics, focussing specifically on Ataxia Telangiectasia Mutated protein kinase, as a potential biomarker and treatment target in cardiovascular disease, using in vitro cell-based studies, ex vivo animal models and microscopy. ​
  • Dr Amanda Genis (PhD): Senior R​esearch Assistant (
  • Dr Ingrid Webster (PhD): Technical Officer and Researcher (
  • Dr Taahirah Boltman (PhD): Postdoctoral Fellow (
  • Dr Jeffery Adoga​ (PhD): Postdoctoral Fellow (​)
  • Dr Eman Teer (MBChB​, PhD): Postdoctoral Fellow (​​)​​