Neonatologist to head Wits School of Clinical Medicine
- Wits University
Professor Daynia Ballot, a lifelong Witsie, takes the reins as Head of the School of Clinical Medicine at Wits from 1 October 2017.
Ballot assumes the role of Head of School/Head of Department (Cluster C) in the School of Clinical Medicine, where she is a paediatrician with a sub-specialty in neonatology.
After obtaining her undergraduate training at Wits, Ballot worked as a research fellow in Professor TH Bothwell’s Iron and Red Cell Metabolic Unit. Here she concluded her PhD research in iron nutrition. Feeling the pull of Clinical Medicine, Ballot went on to specialise in Paediatrics on the Wits Circuit. She was the research registrar in Paediatrics for the final year of her training, and obtained her FCPaeds in 1990, registering as a neonatologist in 1993. She joined Wits as an Associate Professor in 2002. She currently serves as a councillor on the Fellowship of the College of Paediatricians.
Ballot is an NRF C2 rated researcher and three themes drive her research: The first is infection with an interest in the microbiology of neonatal sepsis and biomarkers of neonatal sepsis. Neonates are immune-compromised, and multidrug-resistant organisms are an increasing problem in neonatal sepsis. Therefore it is necessary to have an understanding of these organisms in the local context. The second is determinants of neonatal survival in South Africa, and the third and final is the long-term outcome of high-risk neonates in South Africa. Although there is a lot of information about risk factors for poor outcome and long-term follow-up in neonates globally, there is very little information in the local context. Current local data allows proper health planning and budgeting.
Ballot names her mentors as Professor Andrew MacPhail, her PhD supervisor who promoted her interest in research, and Professors Alan Rothberg and Peter Cooper, who allowed her to pursue neonatal research while working as a clinician in the department.
When she is not busy at work, Ballot enjoys family activities, reading, and travel.