PathRed Scientific Committee
Professor Wolfgang Preiser became Head of the Division of Medical Virology at Stellenbosch University and NHLS Tygerberg in 2005. His research interests aim to close gaps in clinical and diagnostic virology, focusing on three areas: improving and advancing laboratory diagnosis and monitoring of HIV patients whilst defining emerging issues such as antiretroviral drug resistance; opportunistic infections (esp. cytomegalovirus and hepatitis viruses) in HIV-infected and otherwise immunocompromised individuals; and finally, identification and characterization of potentially emerging zoonotic viruses in their wildlife reservoirs and in human beings. He is the Principal Investigator of the South African Medical Research Council (SA MRC) Collaborating Centre for HIV Laboratory Research, 'TygHIVLab'. He served as a temporary advisor to the WHO on SARS in China during 2003 and led the Frankfurt group who, together with colleagues from Hamburg, were among the first to isolate the SARS-associated coronavirus in spring 2003.
Professor Nazeer Alli obtained his undergraduate degree (MBBCh) at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and graduated in November 1981. He attained his postgraduate qualification as a haematopathologist (FCPath Haem (SA)) in November 1991 at the Colleges of Medicine of South Africa (CMSA). He has a special interest in haemoglobin disorders. In order to further develop his interest and skill in the field, he spent 18 months during 2002 – 2004 at Maidstone, St Thomas and Kings College Hospitals in the United Kingdom. Prof Alli’s portfolio of activities includes diagnostics, research, out-patient clinical care, and undergraduate and postgraduate teaching. He is currently a principle consultant and adjunct professor at the National Health Laboratory Service and University of Witwatersrand respectively. He is also a Head of Haematology at Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital laboratory complex and the Head of Haemoglobinopathy division at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital Laboratory.
Prof Meshack Bida, MBChB, MMeD, FCPATH, MRCPAth, MPH, MSc, is a Chief Specialist, Professor and Head the Department of Anatomical Pathology, SMU, NHLS, Dr George Mukhari Tertiary Hospital and the Pathology Representative of the Pathology Cluster within the School of Pre-Clinical Sciences and Pathology in the Faculty of Health Sciences. He is also the chairperson of Anatomical Pathology Expert Committee of the NHLS. Prof Bida’s research is centred in HPV-related malignancies, both gynaecologic and non-gynaecologic and is currently supervising Masters’ and PhD students in this area. Prof Bida is also part of the international network of HPV research and has been invited to speak in several WAKA symposia both nationally and internationally in collaboration with the University of Antwerp, Belgium and University of Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He has interest in laboratory systems strengthening as part of Total Quality Management. His current research focus area is entitled ‘Targeting the microRNA in cervical cancers’ which is MRC funded and in collaboration with international research group based in the University of Nottingham.
Prof Cheryl Cohen is Associate Professor in Epidemiology at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) and co-head of the Centre for Respiratory Disease and Meningitis at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD). Through her work, she aims to generate evidence to guide policy for the control of respiratory diseases. She led the establishment of a national surveillance programme for pneumonia in South Africa in 2009 and is the epidemiology lead for national surveillance for invasive bacterial infections causing pneumonia and meningitis. She heads a team with an active research agenda in the field of respiratory diseases with a focus on burden of disease, transmission and risk groups for severe illness, as well as assesment of the impact and effectiveness of interventions to reduce respiratory disease burden. She is a member of several national and international advisory committees and working groups mainly related to influenza and other respiratory diseases.
Prof Rajiv Erasmus MBBS,FMC.Path (Nig), FWACP, DABCC (Am Board Certified), DHSM(Natal), FCPath(SA), FCPath(ECSA) is the head of Division of Chemical Pathology, Stellenbosch University and NHLS, Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town since 2002 and the Executive head of Pathology since 2013. Prof Erasmus is a founder member and vice president of the College of Pathologists of East, Central and Southern Africa (COPECSA). His research interests include the epidemiology of diabetes mellitus and associated cardio-metabolic risk, laboratory and quality management, point of care testing (POCT) and more recently the role of bio-banking in personalized medicine. In 2011 he set up the first integrated laboratory management training program in Africa which has been embraced by the International Federation of Clinical Chemistry (IFCC)In 2014 he established the Point of Care Research Network for Africa and, along with the Royal College of Pathologists, UK and COPECSA developed the Lab Skills Africa program. He has published 200 peer reviewed articles and abstracts in various scientific journals. He serves on several committees of the IFCC as well as the SANAS POC Committee. He is on the editorial board of several scientific journals and is a NRF rated scientist.
Prof Deborah Glencross is a Research Professor at the University of the Witwatersrand and an NHLS Haematologist with thirty years of laboratory, research and teaching experience. She is a National Research Foundation (NRF) internationally-recognized B-rated scientist and has received multiple awards for her research, centered around the development of novel and affordable laboratory monitoring assays for HIV/AIDS. Of note especially is the PLG/CD4 assay, which is currently used in ~55 NHLS/CD4 laboratories and other third world countries.. She was a founder member of the National Priority Programme (NPP) in 2008 and has implemented, through the NPP/CD4 team, several diverse and novel quality control systems to ensure unique sample-to-sample quality for millions of CD4 tests performed in the NHLS every year, including amongst others Flow-Count-Rate (FCR). She established an African Regional Quality Assessment CD4 Scheme (AFREQAS) in 2004 in collaboration with the World Health Organization. Her CD4/NPP team has driven development the Integrated Tiered Service Delivery Model/ITSDM. NHLS. Prof. Glencross also continues with her long-term Leukemia/ HIV Immunology/ diagnostic flow cytometry focus at the Johannesburg Academic Hospital. This facility was the first flow-cytometry leukemia diagnostics unit in South Africa.
Dr Trusha Nana is a microbiologist at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital NHLS Microbiology Laboratory. I obtained my undergraduate degree (MBBCh) at the University of Witwatersrand in 2001. Thereafter I attained my postgraduate qualification as a microbiologist; FCPath Microbiology (SA) and MMed (WITS). Currently I am involved in laboratory diagnostics, infectious diseases and antimicrobial prescribing advisory ward rounds at CMJAH, and undergraduate and postgraduate teaching. I am a lecturer at the University of Witwatersrand and a member of the NHLS Microbiology Technology Assessment Committee. My interests include Clostridium difficile and epidemiology of healthcare-associated infections.
Dr Babatyi Innocentia Malope-Kgokong obtained her PhD in Community Health at the University of the Witwatersrand which focused on the epidemiology and transmission patterns of Kaposi’s Sarcoma Herpes Virus. She has worked in collaboration with the National Cancer Institute, Fredericks; USA and the National Cancer Registry, New South Wales, Sydney in Australia. She has also obtained a Postgraduate Diploma in Economic Policies from the University of London (CeFIMS) and an MSc (Cum Laude) and BSc in Medical Laboratory Sciences majoring in Haematology from the University of Limpopo. She has worked as a Clinical Research Coordinator at the University of Johannesburg and an Epidemiologist and Data Manager at the Clinical HIV Research Unit, Right to Care and the Centre for Respiratory Disease and Meningitis at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases. She is currently the National Manager for Academic Affairs and Research at the National Health Laboratory Services and the founding Chairperson of PathReD Congress. She has also served as a member of the Clinical Trials Group Review Task Team, the National Conditional Grants Task Team. Her research interests are in the epidemiology of HIV/AIDS, related infectious diseases and malignancies.
Prof Koleka Mlisana MBChB, MMed Micro, PhD is currently an Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Medical Microbiology at the Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine and Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital Academic Complex of the University of KwaZulu-Natal and the National Health Laboratory Services. Prof Mlisana has been among South Africa’s leading scientists in HIV pathogenesis and prevention research and participated in seminal studies that have revealed how the body responds in acute HIV infection. She is a widely respected researcher and is currently working in the field of Medical Microbiology focusing on sexually transmitted infections and tuberculosis research. With KwaZulu-Natal Province as the epicenter for both TB (including DR-TB) and HIV, Prof Mlisana’s group is exploring newer diagnostic and susceptibility testing methods for Mycobacterium tuberculosis as well as understanding mechanisms of drug resistance. Amongst many other national commitments, she currently seats on the recently established Ministerial Advisory Committee on Antimicrobial Resistance.
Dr Karen Shires, is a Senior Medical Scientist at the NHLS. After obtaining various scientific degrees in the pathology disciplines of Microbiology, Biochemistry and Chemical Pathology, Karen managed to marry her love of molecular biology, with her desire to impact patient health directly by joining the NHLS, Division of Haematology in 2006. Being a UCT/NHLS joint medical scientist, in charge of the research and development of the molecular section, has allowed her to pipeline novel approaches to diagnostic and prognostic issues, discovered in her research lab, directly to the molecular NHLS service at Groote Schuur Hospital. Quality and reliable testing platforms that make use of efficient workflow systems are her guidelines for supplying clinically relevant molecular testing solutions here in SA for the Haematopathology discipline. Her research focus is on the development of novel molecular tools to monitor minimal residual disease in Multiple Myeloma, with current projects investigating the use of the Cancer/Testis Antigen MAGE C1 as a marker of disease in the peripheral blood. She is also passionate about teaching about molecular diagnostics and training the next generation of translational scientists, thus growing capacity within South Africa.
Dr Melinda Suchard is a Head of the Centre for Vaccines and Immunology at National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD). Dr Suchard obtained her MBChB 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 NICD. The Centre is the national and regional reference laboratory for polio, measles and rubella amongst other vaccine preventable diseases. Dr Suchard’s research interests include investigation of immune-regulation in infectious disease and methods for monitoring T cell immunity. She is a member of the National Polio Expert Committee and the vice president of the South African Immunology Society.
Institution Abbreviations: CBTBR - Centre of Excellence in Biomedical TB Research, DOH – Department of Health, DST – Department of Science and Technology, NICD – National Institute for communicable diseases, NHLS – National Health Laboratory Service, MRC – Medical Research Council, SEAD – Strategic Evaluation and Advisory Development Consulting, SU – Stellenbosch University, Wits – University of the Witwatersrand.