Start main page content

Eminent Wits epidemiologist elected to African Academy of Sciences

- Wits University

Professor Shane Norris has been elected as a Fellow of the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) for his work on the developmental origins of health and disease.

Norris is Director of the Department of Science and Innovation/National Research Foundation Centre of Excellence in Human Development based at Wits University. 

Professor Shane Norris is Director of the Centre of Excellence for Human Development at Wits and an elected Fellow of the African Academy of Sciences

AAS Fellows are individuals who have reached the highest level of excellence in their field of expertise and have made contributions to the advancement of the field in Africa. Fellows are elected through a rigorous review process based on their achievements that include their publication record, innovations, leadership roles, and contribution to society. 

“To be recognised by Africa’s foremost science research organization is a great honour. My area of research – infant and maternal health and its social and economic repercussions for generations down the line – has indeed received a boost and recognition of its importance in Africa," says Norris.

Norris's election acknowledges the critical work he has done in Africa, especially around the developmental origins of health and disease. His research focuses on lifecourse epidemiology with a specific interest in the development of intergenerational risk for obesity and diabetes. He also runs the Wits South African Medical Research Council-Developmental Pathways for Health Research Unit (DPHRU).

The DPHRU is part of the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health in the School of Clinical Medicine at Wits. The unit investigates genetic, physiological, psycho-social, and lifestyle determinants of growth and development; obesity and risk of cardio-metabolic disease; and healthy ageing through innovative multi-disciplinary methodologies across the life-course. 

Norris has over 22 years of research experience in longitudinal birth cohort studies and population and non-communicable disease epidemiology and is the lead investigator of the Soweto First 1000 Days cohort, and co-Principal Investigator of the Birth to Twenty Plus cohort, which is Africa’s longest running cohort study.

In November 2019, Norris received Wits' Vice-Chancellor's Research Award, which acknowledges the achievements of an exceptional Wits scholar who has demonstrated high levels of research excellence over a sustained period of time. He was also a recipient previously of the UK Medical Reseach Council and Department of International Development African Research Leader Award.  

Norris has published over 330 papers, mentored 11 postdoctoral research fellows, and supervised/supervising 90 postgraduate students.