X

Helen Rees
BA, MB BCh, DCH, MA, MRCGP, MRCOG

Helen Rees is Executive Director of the University of Witwatersrand’s largest research institute, Wits RHI, where she is a Professor in Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Co-Director of the African Leadership in Vaccinology Expertise. She is an Honorary Professor at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a Fellow of Murray Edwards College, Cambridge University. Professor Rees is internationally renowned for her policy and research work in vaccines, reproductive health and HIV. She Chairs and has Chaired many national and international committees and is respected for her ability to synthesize recommendations from multifaceted inputs and to link research to policy. Professor Rees has received many national and international awards for her contribution to African health and global health including being made an Officer of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II and received the Order of the Baobab, one of the South Africa’s highest honours.

Shabir A. Madhi
MBBCh, MMed, PhD, FCPaed(SA)

Shabir Madhi is Professor of Vaccinology at the University of the Witwatersrand; co-founder and co-Director of the African Leadership in Vaccinology Expertise. He qualified at Wits as a paediatrician in 1996 and obtained his PhD in 2003. He holds the positions of Director of the SAMRC Respiratory and Meningeal Pathogens Research Unit and Research Chair in Vaccine Preventable Diseases of Department of Science and Technology/National Research Foundation. He served as the Director of the NICD (2011-2017), and is Chair of the National Advisory Group on Immunization in South Africa. He has authored over 360 scientific publications on epidemiology, clinical development of pneumococcal vaccines, diarrheal disease and maternal immunization. These studies have aided the WHO and SAGE policy on vaccination in low-middle income countries. He has served as a temporary–consultant/technical advisor to World Health Organization in the field of pneumonia and vaccines. Professor Madhi is an elected member of the Academy of Science of South Africa, Royal Society of South Africa, and a Fellow of The World Academy of Sciences.

Clare Cutland
MBBCh, DCH, PhD

Clare Cutland is the Scientific Coordinator of the African Leadership in Vaccinology Expertise (ALIVE) consortium. Prior to her appointment in ALIVE (Nov 2018), she was a research medical officer and subsequently the deputy director of the Respiratory and Meningeal Pathogens Research Unit (RMPRU), based at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital (CHBAH), Soweto, South Africa (2000-2018).

She was an investigator on numerous phase I, II and III paediatric and maternal vaccine trials and principal investigator on a phase II paediatric measles vaccine trial, a phase III quadrivalent influenza vaccine trial in children and a phase III maternal influenza immunization trial in HIV-positive women. Clare Cutland was the clinical lead for several large grant-funded neonatal sepsis prevention (PoPS, sepsis surveillance) and maternal immunization studies (influenza, Streptococcus agalactiae sero-correlate of protection) and an investigator on numerous maternal immunization trials (GBS, RSV), and has described several challenges and lessons learnt in maternal immunization trials. She was involved in the GAIA Brighton collaboration definition working groups (2014-2016), and was elected as a member of the scientific board of the Brighton collaboration in 2018.

Emma Thembani
BSc, MSc

Emma Thembani is the project manager for the African Leadership in Vaccinology Expertise project (ALIVE), at the University of Witwatersrand. ALIVE aims to strengthen African leadership in vaccinology research and advocacy, with the ultimate aim of protecting people from vaccine-preventable diseases. Emma holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from George Mason University, Virginia, USA and a Master’s degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Georgetown University, Washington D.C., U.S.A. She has conducted research on various projects at Georgetown University including HIV research, cancer research, research on autoimmune diseases such as scleroderma and research on various neurodegenerative diseases. She has worked at Johns Hopkins University on projects researching the biology that influences chronic inflammation and frailty in older adults. She has also worked in the area of osteoporosis at the University of Sydney in Australia.

Sinead Delany-Moretlwe
MBBCh, PhD, DTM&H

Sinead Delany-Moretlwe, MBBCh PhD DTM&H is Associate Professor and Director: Research at Wits RHI, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. A South African-born medical doctor and is clinical epidemiologist , her experience is primarily in sexual and reproductive health and HIV prevention research. She has supported HPV vaccine introduction into South Africa through her work, and is currently working with Australian and South African partners to evaluate the population effectiveness of the South African 2-dose HPV vaccination programme. She is also part of consortium aimed at evaluating the evidence for one dose HPV vaccination schedule. Dr Delany-Moretlwe is a member of the WHO Product Development Vaccine Advisory Committee, the HSV vaccine advisory group, and a new group advising on gonorrhoea vaccine development for use in low and middle-income countries.

Jeffrey Dorfman
PhD

Jeffrey Dorfman received his PhD in Immunology from the University of California, Berkeley in 1996 studying recognition by natural killer cells. He then worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, USA studying T cell receptor signaling and at the Wellcome Trust/KEMRI Research Laboratories in Kilifi, Kenya studying B cell memory to malaria antigens. He worked at the Seattle Biomedical Research Institute, Seattle, USA (now CID Research) and then moved to ICGEB, Cape Town and the University of Cape Town.

Now, he is a Senior Research Scientist and Associate Professor at the Respiratory and Meningeal Pathogens Research Unit at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. He studies immunity to cytomegalovirus, respiratory syncytial virus, human metapneumovirus and HIV-1, and phylogeny and evolution of HIV-1. He oversees the laboratory analysis for a vaccine trial studying immunogenicity of a two-dose schedule of pneumococcal conjugate vaccines. He maintains a strong interest in vaccine development for malaria and CMV.

Lee Fairlie
MBCHB, FCPAEDS

Lee Fairlie is the Director of Maternal and Child Health at Wits RHI. She has significant clinical and research experience in paediatric, adolescent and maternal health, including HIV and co-morbidities and vaccine preventable diseases. Dr Fairlie has a medical degree and a Paediatric Specialist qualification (FC Paeds SA). She has worked as a paediatrician in the HIV and infectious diseases (specifically TB) field since 2006. Dr Fairlie conducts clinical trials, implementation science research and clinical work, as well as providing technical assistance. The clinical and research work that she leads focuses on HIV, TB and vaccine-preventable diseases particularly in women, children and adolescents. She leads a clinical and implementation team which strengthens district and sub-district level care for HIV infected and affected women, children and adolescents.

Michelle Groome
MBBCh,DCH,MScMed(Epi&Biostats), PhD

Michelle Groome, MBBCh, MSc (Med) Epi & Biostats, PhD, is a senior clinical researcher and medical epidemiologist at the Respiratory and Meningeal Pathogens Research Unit, University of the Witwatersrand. She has been involved in clinical research for the past 13 years with a focus on infectious diseases, especially vaccine preventable diseases in children. She has extensive experience in the conduct of clinical vaccine trials in the unit as well as observational, epidemiological studies, including surveillance programmes and studies assessing vaccine impact, effectiveness and safety in South Africa. Her main area of interest includes enteric disease epidemiology, aetiology and prevention, in particular rotavirus diarrhoea and vaccination. She currently holds a career development award (Emerging Global Leader Award) from the Fogarty International Center, National Institutes of Health, United States, and is a fellow in the Great Leap Forward Programme, Wits Health Consortium, a new entrepreneurship programme which provides a year of intensive coaching and mentorship.

Karen Hofman
MBBCh

Karen Hofman is based at the Wits School of Public Health and is founding Director of PRICELESS SA (Priority Cost Effective Lessons for Systems Strengthening). She leads policy research to evaluate interventions that provide the biggest return on investment within health systems and across other sectors. The Minister of Health adopted PRICELESS evidence on Best Buys for Maternal and Child Health for the MDG countdown. Karen has led research on SA vaccine catch up campaigns. A Wits medical graduate and a paediatrician, Karen was on faculty at Johns Hopkins and subsequently the Policy Director at the NIH Fogarty Center. She is a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) and in 2016 received the Public Health Association of SA Annual Award.

Bavesh Kana
BSc Hons, MSc, PhD

Bavesh Kana is the head of the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) node of the DST/NRF Centre of Excellence for Biomedical TB Research, Johannesburg, South Africa, where he studies tuberculosis with a focus on identifying new drug targets and biomarkers to monitor treatment response and risk of disease recurrence. He obtained his PhD at Wits and has worked in several US institutions including the University of Pennsylvania, Texas A&M University, the Public Health Research Institute and Harvard Medical School. Prof. Kana was appointed as an Early Career Scientist of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (2012-2016), one of only two awards made to the African continent at the time, and was selected as one of the 200 top young South Africans by the Mail and Guardian newspaper. Recently, he was awarded the Medical Research Council scientific merit award for outstanding lifetime scientific contribution to health research. He is also involved in the development of next-generation diagnostic verification reagents for quality assurance and verification of tuberculosis molecular diagnostics. Some of the reagents developed in his laboratory are now being deployed in over 20 countries through a spinoff company started by Wits University.

Anna Kramvis
BScHons, PhD

Anna Kramvis is a Research Professor and Director of the Hepatitis Virus Diversity Research Unit (HVDRU), University of the Witwatersrand. The HVDRU provides a molecular virology research and training platform: with a focus on African hepatitis B virus (HBV) strains, their functional characterization and their role in clinical manifestation. Globally over 290 million individuals are chronically infected with HBV and a large number will develop liver cancer. 16% - 20% of these carriers reside in Africa. No infectious diseases research in Africa can neglect the AIDS pandemic scourging our continent, so, in addition to HBV-mono-infection, her team is researching HBV/HIV co-infection and developing bioinformatics tools for their study. The National Research Foundation of South Africa has rated her as an internationally recognized scientist. She is a Fellow of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSaf). She is a member of the European Association for the Study of the Liver and sits on various international committees including the Hepatitis Transformative Science Group of the AIDS Clinical Trial Group (ACTG) and its HBV Cure Working Group, and the governing body of the International Coalition to Eliminate HBV (ICE-HBV). Ιn September 2017, with Professor Jake Liang of NIH, she organized the 2017 International HBV Meeting in Washington D.C. If we are going to respond to the WHO call for the elimination of hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030, Professor Kramvis believes, that hepatitis research on prevention and treatment in Africa should be prioritized, there is no room for complacency!

Gaurav Kwatra
PhD

Gaurav Kwatra is a Post-doctoral fellow at Respiratory and Meningeal Pathogens Research Unit, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. He has done his PhD in Health sciences from the University of the Witwatersrand. Dr Kwatra focus areas of research are on Group B Streptococcus (GBS) epidemiology, immunological correlates of protection and development of immunological assays. He is leading a multi-centred study which is being conducted in 9 countries on the clinical, molecular and immunological aspects of GBS colonization in pregnant women. In addition, he is a co-investigator on various projects associated with GBS immunology and epidemiology. Dr Kwatra also had an extensive research experience on development of polysaccharide conjugate vaccines for Haemophilus influenzae type B and Neisseria meningitidis.

Neil Martinson
MBBCh, DCH, MFGP, MPH

Neil Martinson heads the Perinatal HIV Research Unit (PHRU). He graduated as a physician from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. He has over 20 years of managerial, and research experience in HIV and TB. His research work includes: preventing TB and measuring its interactions with HIV; viral drug resistance selected by PMTCT programs; case finding for TB in HIV-infected pregnant women and household contacts of a TB case. He has undertaken four large studies of household contact tracing, using index cases of a variety of different types who either had TB disease or TB infection. He has published several studies assessing the value of active case finding using different methods of diagnosis. He has experience in design and implementation of both individually and cluster randomised trials and while he continues to conduct research in Soweto, he has also built a large research platform in Matlosana and Limpopo Province, both areas with and HIV/TB problem in South Africa. His current research thrust is measuring reductions in mortality, morbidity and transmission of TB.

Penny Moore
PhD

Penny Moore is a Reader and DST/NRF South African Research Chair of Virus-Host Dynamics at the University of the Witwatersrand and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, and Honorary Senior Scientist (Virus-Host Dynamics) at CAPRISA, University of Kwa-Zulu Natal. She obtained her MSc in Microbiology at Wits University, studying gastroenteritis-associated adenoviruses. This was followed by a PhD in Virology (Medicine) at the University of London (studying the Hepatitis B virus) in 2003 before returning to South Africa to join NICD/WITS. Her current research focuses on HIV broadly neutralizing antibodies and their interplay with the evolving virus.

Lynn Morris
BScHons, DPhil

Lynn Morris heads the HIV Virology Section at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases. She holds a joint appointment as Research Professor at the Wits University and is a Honorary Senior Scientist (Humoral Immunity) at CAPRISA. She completed her undergraduate studies at Wits University and obtained a DPhil from the University of Oxford. Lynn is an NRF A-rated researcher who has made significant contributions to our understanding of how the antibody response to HIV develops. Her contributions have been recognised through several National and International Awards and she features on the Clarivate list of the highest cited researchers in the world.

Saiqa Mullick
MBBCh, MSc, MPH, PhD

Saiqa Mullick is Director of Implementation Science, responsible for leading the development and implementation of a large portfolio of programmatic research and technical assistance. Her qualifications include a medical degree, two Masters level degrees in Public Health Methodology and in Public Health in Developing Countries and a PhD in Infectious Disease Epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She is also a member of the Institute of Directors of Southern Africa (IoDSA). Dr. Mullick has over 16 years’ experience in clinical services, implementation science, programme monitoring and evaluation, reproductive health and HIV, technical assistance and capacity building in developing country settings across the African continent. Her areas of technical expertise include sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), integration of HIV and sexual and reproductive health services, maternal health including contraception, adolescent health, antiretroviral (ARV) based HIV prevention and sexually transmitted and reproductive tract infections.

Marta Nunes
PhD

Marta Nunes, PhD, currently is an Associate Professor at the Respiratory and Meningeal Pathogens Research Unit, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Marta did her PhD thesis work at the Department of Neurology & Neuroscience, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York, NY, USA and obtained her PhD from the University of Lisbon, Medical College, Lisbon, Portugal. She has worked at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, France, on the cellular mechanisms of Plasmodium Falciparum parasite infection and collaborated in various projects dedicated to identify new malaria vaccine candidates for pregnancy malaria. Currently her research is focused on the prevention of respiratory diseases exploring the use of vaccines and other interventions particularly in populations burden by the HIV infection. She was a co-investigator on the clinical trials that investigated the safety, immunogenicity and efficacy of trivalent inactivated influenza vaccination of HIV-uninfected and HIV-infected pregnant women against early–childhood and maternal influenza virus associated illness.

Diantha Pillay
BSc, MPH, BMedScHons

Diantha Pillay is a Programme Manager for the OPTIONS program at the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute in South Africa, under the Implementation Science portfolio. The OPTIONS program provides technical assistance to the government to support the roll-out of ARV-based prevention technologies. Diantha holds a BSc (Biomedical Science), BMedSci (Hons) (Medical Biochemistry) and MPH, majoring in epidemiology and biostatistics. She is currently reading towards her PhD in environmental health. She has 9 years of experience in research (biomedical, clinical, operational and social science research on HIV and TB, female and reproductive health) and has contributed to publications in this area. Her research includes molecular biology research involving HIV/TB drug resistance testing using next generation DNA sequencing technology, clinical trial research involving microbicide, preventative HIV vaccines as well as social / qualitative research on adherence, female sexual and reproductive health, particularly newly introduced contraception methods, as well as operational and implementation science research regarding the roll out of ARV based prevention.

Michèle Ramsay
BSc(Agric), MSc, PhD

Michele Ramsay is the Director of the Sydney Brenner Institute for Molecular Bioscience (SBIMB) and Professor in the Division of Human Genetics, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg. Her research interests include African population genetic and epigenetic diversity and their role in diseases exacerbated by adverse lifestyle choices, including obesity, and cardiometabolic diseases. She participates in genetic research into eye, skin and autoimmune diseases in African populations, including albinism, keratolytic witer erythema, glaucoma, scleroderma and rheumatoid arthritis. She is Principal Investigator of an NIH funded Collaborative Centre under the H3Africa Consortium for “Genomic and environmental risk factors for cardiometabolic diseases in Africans”, holds a Research Chair on Genomics and Bioinformatics of African populations and is past President of the African Society for Human Genetics and President of the International Federation of Human Genetics Societies.

Melinda Suchard
BSc, MB BCh, DTM&H, MMed, FCPath(SA)Clin

Melinda Suchard obtained her MBBCh degree from the University of the Witwatersrand in 2000 after which she obtained her MMED and FCPath qualifications in clinical pathology. Since 2013 she heads the Centre for Vaccines and Immunology at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases. The Centre is the national and regional reference laboratory for polio, measles and rubella amongst other vaccine preventable diseases. The centre conducts viral isolation and molecular characterization of polio viruses from acute flaccid paralysis cases and environmental samples from surrounding countries. Dr Suchard’s research interests include investigation of immunoregulation in vaccinology and improvement of laboratory methods for monitoring T cell immunity. Dr Suchard is a member of the National Polio Expert Committee and the President of the South African Immunology Society.

Caroline Tiemessen
PhD

Caroline Tiemessen heads the Cell Biology Research Laboratory within the Centre for HIV and STIs at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), and holds a joint appointment as Research Professor at the University of the Witwatersrand. In 2013 she was awarded the DST/NRF Research Chair of HIV Vaccine Translational Research in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of the Witwatersrand, was appointed a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), and in 2017 was awarded the University of the Witwatersrand’s Vice Chancellor Research Award. Research interests include the study of HIV vaccines and HIV cure (paediatric and adult). A focus is on early treatment models in paediatric HIV infection, and on natural resistance models which include maternal-infant HIV-1 transmission for studying protective immunity to HIV-1, and the study of long term nonprogressors and elite controllers to understand natural attenuation of disease progression.