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WRIM Research Leaders

Prof Basil Brooke

 

 

Prof Basil Brooke

Associate Professor, WRIM

NRF-rating: B3

Contact:  +2711 386 6480/ basilb@nicd.ac.za

Short biography:

Professor Basil Brooke is the head of the Vector Control Reference Laboratory, Centre for Emerging Zoonotic & Parasitic Diseases, NICD, and is an Associate Professor in the Wits Research Institute for Malaria. His collaborative research work has primarily focused on an array of genetic and biometric issues related to the development, inheritance, expression, relative stability and pleiotropic effects of insecticide resistance in African malaria vector species. This work has been applied to the development of strategies designed to maintain effective malaria vector control in the face of insecticide resistance, particularly in South Africa and the greater southern African region. He is also integrally involved in the assessment of enhanced malaria vector surveillance techniques, operational procedures for malaria outbreak response, new vector control products and alternative methods of vector control. Many of these projects currently involve or have involved postgraduate student participation at the BSc Hons, MSc and PhD levels.

Main projects:

  • Identifying the drivers of malaria transmission in low incidence settings
  • Establishing and updating diagnostic insecticide dosages for susceptibility assessments of mosquito diseases vector populations
  • Reviewing and revising the WHO Manual on Practical Entomology in Malaria
Prof Maureen Coetzee

 

Prof Maureen Coetzee

Distinguished Professor

NRF-rating: A2

Contact:  +2782-807-3559/ Maureen.coetzee@wits.ac.za

maureenc@nicd.ac.za

Short biography:

Prof Coetzee is Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa, Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society, London, and Fellow of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene.

She is the founder and previous director of the Wits Research Institute for Malaria, University of the Witwatersrand, and was a holder of the DST/NRF South African Research Chair in Medical Entomology & Vector Control from 2008 - 2018. Her research interests on African malaria vector mosquitoes began in 1975 and include biodiversity, biology and insecticide resistance. She has published over 200 scientific papers and book chapters in the past 40 years and received many awards, the most recent being an EMBO Kolymbari award and the SA MRC Platinum award for life-time achievements. In 2010, researchers at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, USA, named a mosquito subgenus after her - Aedes (Coetzeemyia). She sits on the Malaria Policy Advisory Committee of the World Health Organization. She has supervised a total of 63 post-graduates from 13 African countries in the last 25 years, 65% of them black and 44% women.

Main projects:

  • Revision of the 1968 book by Gillies & De Meillon, The Anophelinae of Africa South of the Sahara.
Prof Theresa L Coetzer

Prof Theresa L Coetzer

Head of Plasmodium Molecular Research Unit (PMRU)

Contact:  011 717 2419/ theresa.coetzer@wits.ac.za 

Short biography:

Thérèsa L Coetzer graduated with a BSc and a BSc Honours degree in biochemistry from Wits. She worked as a research scientist in Austria and Germany and then took up a research position at the South African Institute for Medical Research (SAIMR) and obtained her PhD from Wits.  She did postdoctoral research at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, USA. She returned to South Africa to head the Red Cell Membrane Research Unit. She subsequently shifted her research focus to the malaria parasite. Her laboratory investigates fundamental aspects of the biology of the malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, with the ultimate aim of identifying novel drug targets. She also works on the automated diagnosis of malaria and is involved in an international drug discovery programme to identify compounds that inhibit the transmission stages of the parasite, which is a crucial aspect of global efforts to eliminate malaria.

Main projects:

  • Co-PI of the South African Malaria Transmission-blocking Consortium (SAMTC)
Prof John Frean

Prof John Frean

Head, Parasitology Reference Laboratory, Centre for Emerging Zoonotic and Parasitic Diseases, NICD

NRF-rating: C

Contact:  +2711 555 0308/ johnf@nicd.ac.za

Short biography:

Qualified in medicine and pathology at the University of the Witwatersrand, and holds postgraduate qualifications from South African, British and Australian institutions. Currently holds senior positions in the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD).  His main interests are parasitic and zoonotic diseases.

Main projects:

  • The PRL currently has projects involving a regional malaria slide bank, molecular diagnostics for intestinal parasites, schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminths surveillance, toxoplasmosis epidemiology, tick-transmitted pathogens, and zoonotic causes of acute febrile illness.
Prof Richard Hunt

 

Prof Richard Hunt

Honorary Associate

Contact:  +2782 886 9986/ richardhhunt@gmail.com

Short biography:

Richard Hunt is a retired Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society of London.

He has worked in the malaria control and research fields for over 60 years, starting in Zimbabwe in 1957. He obtained a MSc with distinction from Wits University in 1984 and a PhD in 1989. His first publications were in 1972 on the cytogenetics of the Anopheles gambiae complex and he has published 117 papers to date. He received a Rotary International Scholarship in 1971, the S2A3 medal for best MSc in 1984, and the Elsdon Dew Medal from the Parasitological Society of SA in 2009. He has supervised 27 post-graduate student over the last 30 years.

Mentoring staff and students.

Prof Lizette Koekemoer

Prof Lizette Koekemoer

Co- Director and DST/NRF Research Chair

NRF-rating: B2

Contact:  +2711 717 2424/2486 or +2711 885 5364/ Lizette.koekemoer@wits.ac.za

lizettek@nicd.ac.za

Short biography:

Prof Lizette Koekemoer is currently the co-director of the Wits Research Institute for Malaria. She is a Research Professor and a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society (London). She is a member of the Entomological Society of Southern Africa, Health Professions Council of South Africa, Molecular and Cell Biology Group, and the South African Malaria Elimination Committee. She is also involved in several committees at the University of the Witwatersrand.

During her 23 years research experience, Prof Koekemoer has lead multiple projects focusing on (1) malaria vector systematics, (2) insecticide resistance and the molecular mechanisms involved,  and (3) transmission-blocking strategies. She has supervised/co-supervised 65+ students, hosted few post-doctoral fellows and has successfully secure research grants from a wide variety of funders.

Main projects:

  • Reduction of malaria transmission in the mosquito through drug discovery
  • Research to reduce malaria transmission from outdoor biting mosquitoes through zooprophylaxis
  • Increase knowledge of vector biological and genetics
  • Bionomics of malaria vectors.
Prof Immo Kleinschmidt

Prof Immo Kleinschmidt

Professor of Epidemiology, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Honorary Professor Wits School of Pathology

Technical Advisor, SADC Malaria Elimination Eight Secretariat

Contact:  +27 76 5621373/ +44 787 2414501 / Immo.Kleinschmidt@lshtm.ac.uk

Short biography:

Immo Kleinschmidt’s main research interest is in malaria epidemiology, with an emphasis on vector control and malaria elimination. He holds dual appointments as professor of epidemiology at the London School Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and as technical advisor for the Southern African Development Community's (SADC) Malaria Elimination Eight initiative. Immo Kleinschmidt has been the Principal or Co-Investigator on the following trials evaluating malaria vector control tools and strategies: (1) the benefit of using indoor residual spraying (IRS) in addition to long lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) in Tanzania; (2) the non-inferiority and cost effectiveness of reactive targeted IRS compared to generalised mass IRS in South Africa; (3) the superiority of IRS using a non-pyrethroid insecticide plus LLINs compared to IRS using pyrethroid insecticide plus LLINs in Sudan; (4) the effectiveness of reactive focal mass drug administration and reactive focal IRS, each separately, and in combination in Namibia; (5) the effectiveness of attractive targeted sugar baits in Mali; (6) the effectiveness of new generation and bi-treated LLINs compared to standard LLINs in Tanzania and Benin; (7) the comparison of two insecticides for IRS in Equatorial Guinea, and (8) the evaluation of screening and eaves tubes in Cote d’Ivoire.

Main projects:

  • Epidemiological evaluation of attractive targeted sugar baits through a cluster randomized trial in Mali;
  • Evaluation of the impact of malaria border screening posts on international borders in the SADC Malaria Elimination Eight region;
  • Effectiveness of new generation and bi-treated LLINs compared to standard LLINs in Tanzania and Benin.
Prof Miles Markus

 

Prof Miles Markus

Honorary Professorial Research Fellow

Contact:  011 717 1000/ miles.markus@wits.ac.za 

Short biography:

Parasitologist (primarily medical); professional language practitioner, including translator; and ex-ornithologist. Graduate of four institutions: Imperial College London (PhD, DIC); London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (MSc); University of Pretoria (BSc Hons, MSc); and University of the Witwatersrand (BA Hons). For publications, see: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Miles_Markus

Main projects:

  • Biology of Malarial Recurrence
Dr Givemore Munhenga

Dr Givemore Munhenga

Principal Medical Scientist

NRF-Rating: C3

Contact:  +2711 386 6484/ givemorem@nicd.ac.za

 Short biography:

Dr Givemore Munhenga is C3 NRF rated scientist with over ten years’ experience in providing expertise and overseeing research in both agriculture and public health. Dr Munhenga is employed as a Principal Medical Scientist with National Institute for Communicable and holds a joint appointment as a Lecturer within the Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Pathology at the University of Witwatersrand. His research interest is to understand entomological drivers for malaria transmission and use this knowledge in formulating malaria vector control policies through development of new techniques to complement existing malaria interventions.

Main projects:

  • Development of the SIT for Anopheles arabiensis control in South Africa.
  • Evaluation and optimization of mosquito surveillance systems under low malaria transmission settings
  • Genetic structuring in the major malaria vector Anopheles arabiensis and implication on vector control in South Africa
  • Development of an Anopheles arabiensis sex separation strain for the South African Sterile Insect Technique programme
  • Into the Wild: New Models for Community Engagement with mosquito releases.
Dr Shüné Oliver

Dr Shüné Oliver

Senior Medical Scientist

Contact:  +2711 386 6485/ shuneo@nicd.ac.za

Short biography:

A medical Scientist at the NICD since 2005 as well as holding a joint appointment as researcher with Wits University. Shüné maintains the insectary at the NICD and is actively involved in both conducting and leading research. She aims to combine cutting edge molecular biology techniques with basic zoology to answer key questions affecting vector control initiatives. Her primary research interests involve understanding the pleiotropic effects of insecticide resistance on mosquito life history. Her major research focuses are the effect of pollution and climate change on mosquitoes, elucidating the effects of the environment on immunity as well as investigating novel mechanisms of vector control. Over and above her research interests, she is actively involved in various aspects of academic citizenship, with a strong focus on the advancement of women in science.

Main projects:

  • The effect of environmental stress on the life history of An. arabiensis.
  • The effect of larval pollutant exposure on the life history of the An. gambiae complex.
  • Elucidation of the immunological basis of vector competence.
  • Bioprospecting of novel insecticides.
  • Exploring mosquito biology as tool to combat residual malaria.
Dr Jaishree Raman

 

  Dr Jaishree Raman

Principal Medical Scientist and Head of Laboratory for Antimalarial Resistance Monitoring and Malaria Operational Research (ARMMOR)

Contact:  +2711 386 6374/ jaishreer@nicd.ac.za 

Short biography:

Upon the completion of her post-doctoral fellowship in Sweden, Dr Raman joined the Malaria Research Unit of the South African Medical Research Council. During her 10 year tenure there she established and led a successful research programme focusing on understanding the emergence and spread of antimalarial drug resistance across southern Africa. Data generated by the laboratory informed antimalarial drug policy in South Africa, Eswatini and Mozambique. In 2014, Dr Raman’s research programme moved to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, where in line with national policy, research activities within her laboratory are directed to towards assisting South Africa achieve its malaria elimination goal. In addition to running a robust antimalarial resistance surveillance programme, the laboratory, in collaboration with national and international partners, is investigating novel techniques and technologies aimed at improving malaria case detection and treatment practices within southern Africa, with the aim of accelerating the region towards malaria elimination.

Main projects:

  • Assessing the emergence and spread of antimalarial drug resistance markers across southern Africa
  • Identifying the parasitological drivers of residual malaria transmission in KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga
  • Determining the relatedness of malaria parasite isolates from malaria eliminating districts within South Africa to inform intervention selection
  • Identifying and eliminating residual foci of malaria transmission in South Africa
  • Assessing the impact of border malaria surveillance units on local transmission in northern KwaZulu-Natal and selected districts in Mpumalanga
Prof Amanda Rousseau

 

Prof Amanda Rousseau

Associate Professor

Contact:  011 717 6707/ Amanda.Rousseau@wits.ac.za 

 

Short biography:

Prof Amanda Rousseau completed her PhD degree and graduated from the University of the Witwatersrand in 2000, after which she joined the CSIR (first in the Specialty and Fine Chemicals Programme and later Discovery Chemistry, Biosciences), where she was employed for a period of 10 years. In 2011 she left industry and joined the academic staff in the School of Chemistry at the University of the Witwatersrand. While retaining general interests in synthetic organic chemistry, her research focuses on the design and synthesis of compounds with the potential to display antimalarial, antibacterial, or antitrypanosomal activity.

Main projects:

  • Synthesis of inhibitors of folate metabolism within the malaria parasite. This work has been extended to develop antifolates active against selected bacterial strains and Trypanosoma.
  • The use of multi‐component coupling reactions to synthesize spiroindolones as potential antimalarial agents.
  • Development of falciparum calcium-dependent protein kinase inhibitors containing a pyrrolo‐[2,3‐d]‐pyrimidine core Some of the prepared pyrrolo‐[2,3‐d]‐pyrimidines have also shown activity against T. brucei, and are being explored further as inhibitors of TbPTR1
Prof Robyn van Zyl

 

Prof Robyn van Zyl

Co-Director of WRIM

Pharmacology Head

 WRIM Pharmacology Research Director

Contact:  +2711 717 2271/ Robyn.vanZyl@wits.ac.za

Short biography:

Personal Professor Robyn van Zyl is currently the co-director of the WITS Research Institute for Malaria, which is an exciting undertaking that has further strengthened collaboration and malaria research at WITS, nationally and internationally. 

Prof van Zyl undertook her undergraduate and postgraduate studies at the University of the Witwatersrand, with her PhD in Pharmacology investigating iron metabolism in the malaria parasite. Her passion for malaria has continued for over 20 years with more than 50 publications, grants and invited presentations, along with graduating more than 150 postgraduate PhD, MSc and BHSc (Honours) students. Her main research focus as a pharmacologist, parasitologist and toxicologist involves various aspects of malaria, complemented with toxicological, mechanistic, insecticidal, novel compound and clinical investigations.

As head of the WITS Pharmacology Division, Prof van Zyl contributes to both Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology research, and serves on various research and undergraduate committees.

Main projects:

  • The Chemotherapeutic Properties Of Novel Synthetic And Natural Compounds
  • The Insecticidal Properties Of Novel Synthetic And Natural Compounds
  • Knowledge, attitudes and perceptions about the management of malaria & toxicity of insecticides
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