The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) is led and managed by a multidisciplinary team of experts who are committed to meeting public health demands in disease surveillance, outbreak management and response, research, epidemiology and training.
Acting executive director: Prof Adrian Puren
Prof Puren is the newly appointed Acting Executive Director of the NICD since December 2020. Prof Adrian Puren was trained and held a lectureship at the University of the Witwatersrand, before taking on various positions at the NICD. Adrian was appointed as Deputy Director and Head of Virology in 1999 and Head of the Centre for HIV and STIs in 2017. As head of virology, he focused on developing and implementing a range of viral diagnostic platforms in support of the NICD’s EPI surveillance programmes and diagnostic support.
Adrian’s main interest is in the development of HIV surveillance programmes with a particular focus on HIV incidence and the use of “big data” to inform surveillance, monitoring and evaluation. Prof Puren heads the regional and national endpoint diagnostics laboratory for HVTN-supported vaccine and antibody-mediated preventions trials. He serves as the quality assurance technical manager for the NICD and in this capacity, he has provided support to the National Department of Health’s implementation and quality assurance of HIV rapid testing. Prof Puren serves on various expert bodies and the most recent is the South African Lancet Commission on High Quality Health in the era of Sustainable Development Goals.
NICD Deputy Director: Dr Natalie Mayet
Dr Natalie Mayet is the Deputy Director of the National Institute for Communicable Diseases and is currently serving as the Chairperson of the International Association of National Public Health -Africa. Mayet graduated as a medical doctor from the University of Natal in 1983 and obtained further qualifications from the University of the Witwatersrand in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, Public Health, Health Services Management, Occupational Health and Functional Medicine. Dr Mayet is currently responsible for International Relations, Communications, the South African Field Epidemiology Training Programme and has facilitated the establishment of Epidemiology Special Interest Group at the Public Health Association of South Africa. She is involved in the re-engineering of the Notifiable Medical Conditions Surveillance system and is supporting the development of the National Public Health Institute of South Africa. Dr Mayet chairs the Subcommittee on Health Promotion of the Malaria Elimination Committee, is a member of the Institutional Biosafety and Biosecurity Committee at the NICD and is a Board Member of the Institute for Health and Social Sciences that focuses on injury and violence prevention.
EPIDEMIOLOGY Deputy Director: Prof Lucille Blumberg
Prof Lucille Blumberg is the Deputy Director of Epidemiology and the founding head of the Division of Public Health Surveillance and Response. She is currently a medical consultant to the Division for Outbreak Preparedness and Response and is a medical consultant to the Centre for Emerging, Zoonotic and Parasitic Diseases where her major focus is on malaria, rabies and zoonotic diseases. She is a medical graduate of the University of the Witwatersrand and is an Associate Professor in the Department of Medical Microbiology at the University of Stellenbosch. She has specialist qualifications in clinical microbiology, travel medicine, and infectious diseases. She lectures on ‘One Health’ to under- and postgraduate students at the Faculty of Veterinary Sciences, University of Pretoria and teaches on a number of international ‘One Health courses.’ Prof Blumberg has worked on a number of outbreaks of zoonotic diseases including rabies, avian influenza, leptospirosis and the Lujo virus. She is a member of the South African Expert Advisory Groups on Rabies and Malaria (Chairperson) as well as the advisory groups to the World Health Organization on yellow fever risks in travellers (Chairperson), and the ‘Blue Print’ for research in diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics for epidemic-prone (mainly zoonotic) diseases. Prof Blumberg has been recognised for her work in One Health with an award from the World Small Animal Veterinary Association and was awarded the South African Medical Research Council Special Award in 2018.
MICROBIOLOGY DEPUTY DIRECTOR: PROF JOHN FREAN
Prof John Frean is the Deputy Director of Microbiology and Head of Parasitology Reference Laboratory at the Centre for Emerging Zoonotic and Parasitic Diseases. He obtained an MBBCh, MMed and a DTM&H from the University of the Witwatersrand and an MSc from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University of London. Prof Frean contributed to over 140 peer-reviewed articles, textbook chapters, and other publications, as well as contributing to and editing the NICD’s Communicable Diseases Communiqué Bulletin. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Annals of the Australasian College of Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease, and Associate Editor of the Southern African Journal of Infectious Diseases. His research achievements over the last 10 years have been in three areas: malaria, opportunistic infections, and zoonotic/biosecurity risks. Prof Frean’s interests are clinical and diagnostic microbiology, especially parasitic and zoonotic diseases.