Communicable diseases researcher directory

 

The purpose of the directory is to create awareness of the research work the scientists at National Institute for Communicable Diseases are involved in. 

This  is a compendium of the names of scholars who are actively engaged in communicable disease research in South Africa. Each entry gives the person’s name, field of research and up to seven keywords describing their research interests, as well as a link to their email address. Use this directory to easily connect with our researchers for collaboration and partnership. 

researchers

Amoako, Daniel

Dr.
PhD, MMedSci, BSc(Hons)

Field/s of Research

Pathogenomics and Applied Bioinformatics

Research Interest

Genomic epidemiology of infectious pathogens; Bioinformatic pipelines for pathogens

ORCid Number

0000-0003-3551-3458

 

Dr Daniel Amoako is a Bioinformatics Scientist at the Centre for Respiratory Diseases and Meningitis at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in Johannesburg, South Africa. He is also an Honorary Senior Lecturer at the College of Health Sciences at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He has a longstanding interest in microbial bioinformatics; his research applies genome sequencing to better understand emerging pathogens and their mechanisms of resistance and virulence.

Amoako has been involved in several large-scale bacterial whole-genome sequencing projects and actively translates microbial genomic data into genomic epidemiology for the benefit of South Africa’s Public, Private, Food, Animal, and Environmental Health sector (One-Health Context). His current research focuses on using genomics to gain insights into respiratory viruses such as SAR-CoV-2, RSV and Influenza that causes various infections worldwide.

To date, Amoako has authored/co-authored 75 publications in international peer-reviewed journals and successfully supervised/co-supervised 10 MSc/PhD students.

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Bhiman, Jinal

Dr.
PhD, Msc (Med), BSc (Hons)

Field/s of Research

Virology, immunology

Research Interest

Vaccine research, host virus interactions, viral genomic surveillance

ORCid Number

0000-0001-6354-4003

 

Dr Jinal N. Bhiman began her research career in HIV virus-host dynamics, with a focus on how viral evolution during chronic HIV infection can be exploited to design preventative vaccines.

Through this research she performed detailed viral evolution analyses and isolated monoclonal antibodies through both single B cell sorting and B cell culture.

Following this, she was involved in assessing immunogenicity of various HIV immunogens in multiple animal models, including mice, rabbits and non-human primates.
Bhiman’s more recent research within the viral respiratory pathogen field focuses on influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). She has been involved in the development of diagnostics, surveillance, antigenic characterisation and whole genome sequencing for these three viruses.   She has also been involved in investigating vaccine and infection induced antibody responses in the periphery and mucosa to SARS-CoV-2.
Bhiman was the laboratory lead on assay development, validation and implementation during the early phase of the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic in South Africa and led the rapid set-up and verification of an in-house diagnostic test for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases. She has provided expert advice to the WHO and Africa CDC lab diagnostics working group, as well as the WHO Technical Advisory Group on Viral Evolution. In addition, she is the PI on a European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) grant aimed at developing an affordable, point-of-care test for SARS-CoV-2 and using genomic surveillance to inform molecular epidemiology of this virus.

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Birkhead, Monica

Dr.
PhD, MSc, BSc (Hons)

Field/s of Research

Transmission electron microscopy, microbiology, virology

Research Interest

Ultrastructure of pathogens, vectors, hosts, pathogenesis

ORCid Number

01-7952-7670

 

Dr Monica Birkhead (PhD) is currently employed as a Medical Scientist in the Electron Microscope Laboratory of the Centre for Emerging Zoonotic and Parasitic Diseases at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases located in Johannesburg, South Africa. Her previous work experience includes research assistant at the University of Witwatersrand and an aquatic biological toxicologist.

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Brooke, Basil

Prof.
PhD, BSc (Hons), FRES, ASSAf

Field/s of Research

Medical entomology, vector biology, vector borne disease control

Research Interest

Vector bionomics, vector biology, entomological drivers of disease transmission

ORCid Number

0000-0002-8857-1304


Associate Professor Basil Brooke is the head of the Vector Control Reference Laboratory in the Centre for Emerging Zoonotic and Parasitic Diseases at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases located in Johannesburg, South Africa. He is a member of the Wits Research Institute for Malaria (WRIM) at the University of the Witwatersrand.
His collaborative research work over the past 20-years has primarily focused on identifying the entomological drivers of malaria transmission, especially insecticide resistance, vector species assemblages and their corresponding behavioral/physiological traits. This work applies directly to the development of strategies designed to maintain effective malaria vector control in South Africa and the greater southern African region. Professor Brooke is also integrally involved in the assessment of enhanced vector surveillance techniques, operational procedures for malaria outbreak response, new vector control products and alternative methods of control. Many of these projects have involved postgraduate student participation at the BSc Hons, MSc and PhD levels. He is also the editor of the NICD’s quarterly journal, the Public Health Surveillance Bulletin.

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Carrim, Maimuna

Ms.
BSc (Hons), MSc

Field/s of Research

Respiratory disease, meningitis, molecular epidemiology, molecular biology, microbiology

Research Interest

Microbiome, molecular biology, molecular epidemiology of respiratory diseases (both viral and bacterial)

ORCid Number

0000-0003-2717-5540


Maimuna Carrim is a Senior Medical Scientist at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in the Centre for Respiratory Diseases and Meningitis in Johannesburg, South Africa.

She completed her Master’s degree at the University of the Witwatersrand, where she explored the prevalence of bacteria causing atypical pneumonia in South Africa. Carrim is currently pursuing her PhD that focusses on understanding carriage and transmission of Streptococcus pneumoniae through a community cohort study in South Africa. She is also working on determining aberrations in the nasopharyngeal microbiome in influenza positive individuals.

Furthermore, Carrim has been the involved in coordinating the molecular laboratory aspects of the Prospective Household Observational Cohort Study of SARS-CoV-2, influenza, respiratory syncytial virus and other Respiratory Pathogens Community Burden and Transmission Dynamics in South Africa (The PHIRST study and PHIRST-C study).

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Coertse, Jessica

Dr.
PhD

Field/s of Research

Virology

Research Interest

Virology

ORCid Number

0000-0002-8376-6508

 

Jessica Coertse holds a PhD in Microbiology and is a Medical Scientist in the Centre for Emerging Zoonotic and Parasitic Diseases at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in Johannesburg, South Africa. She also has an appointment as an extraordinary lecturer in the Department of Medical Virology and is a member of the Centre for Viral Zoonoses at the University of Pretoria. Her main research interests are diagnostic development, surveillance and pathogenesis of zoonotic- and arboviruses.

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Cohen, Cheryl

Prof.
MBBCh, FCPath SA (Micro), MSc, PhD

Field/s of Research

Influenza, RSV, SARS-CoV-2, pneumococcus, epidemiology, vaccine effectiveness

Research Interest

Influenza, RSV, SARS-CoV-2, pneumococcus, epidemiology, vaccine effectiveness

ORCid Number

0000-0003-0376-2302

 

Cheryl Cohen is a Professor in Epidemiology at the University of the Witwatersrand and head of the Centre for Respiratory Diseases and Meningitis at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases. She qualified as a medical doctor at the University of the Witwatersrand and is a Fellow of the College of Pathologists of South Africa in the discipline of Microbiology.

Cohen obtained an MSc in Epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (United Kingdom) and a PhD from the University of the Witwatersrand. In her current position she works closely with the South African Department of Health to generate evidence to guide policy with regard to the control and management of respiratory diseases. She led the establishment of a national surveillance programme for severe acute respiratory infections in South Africa in 2009 and is the epidemiology lead for national surveillance for pneumonia and invasive bacterial infections causing pneumonia. She heads up a team with an active research agenda in the field of respiratory diseases with a focus on the burden of disease and risk groups for severe illness, as well as assessment of the impact and effectiveness of interventions to reduce respiratory disease burden.

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Cutler, Ewalde

Ms.
BSc, MSc (Virology)

Field/s of Research

HIV diagnostics, HIV surveillance and HIV drug resistance

Research Interest

HIV diagnostics, HIV surveillance and HIV drug resistance

ORCid Number

0000-0002-2029-9236


As a Medical Scientist in the field of medical virology, Ewaldé Cutler is currently involved in HIV surveillance, with specific interests in clinical and implementation research of new HIV diagnostic technologies in the Centre for HIV and STIs at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in Johannesburg, South Africa. She is trained in HIV molecular diagnostics, HIV vaccine end-point testing and quality assurance. Additionally, Cutler is a Scientific Project Manager for HIV incidence and surveillance trials, National Antenatal HIV Surveys and HIV household surveys.

She has contributed to publications relating to HIV, syphilis, HPV and SARS-CoV-2 diagnostics, medical male circumcision and external quality assurance professional with an MSc focused on Medical Virology from University of the Witwatersrand.

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Da Costa Dias, Bianca

Dr.
PhD

Field/s of Research

STIs, HPV, HIV, immunology, immunogenetics, flow cytometry

Research Interest

STI epidemiology, HPV surveillance, HPV vaccination, host immune responses to infectious viral pathogens, HIV functional cure, HIV elite control, paediatric HIV

ORCid Number

0000-0001-8221-9636

 

Bianca Da Costa Dias is a Senior Medical Scientist at the Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) Reference Laboratory within the Centre for HIV and STIs at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) located in Johannesburg, South Africa. She conducts STI-related surveillance and research, with a specific focus of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV).

She was awarded a PhD from the University of the Witwatersrand, under the discipline of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, for assessing the role of the 37kDa/67kDa Laminin receptor in amyloid beta-mediated pathogenesis in Alzheimer’s Disease. Upon completion of her doctoral studies, she sought to apply her skills and knowledge to research involving Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). She worked as a postdoctoral fellow within the HIV Cell Biology laboratory of Prof C. Tiemessen at the NICD for five years. During her postdoctoral tenure she conducted both genetic and immunological/ functional studies in attempts to further understand 1) differential abilities of certain HIV-infected individuals’ to naturally control HIV-viraemia; 2) the proviral HIV reservoir; and 3) the immunological restorative effects of very early- ART initiation in perinatally infected children.

The driving force behind her decision to pursue a scientific profession is her desire to contribute towards attaining tangible solutions to devastating human health problems. She has a passion for helping people and the ability to combine research, surveillance and health communication to assist communities beyond the laboratory is a powerful motivator in her career.

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Dahan-Moss, Yael

Dr.
PhD, MSc, BSc (Hons) and BSc

Field/s of Research

Malaria research

Research Interest

Malaria research

ORCid Number

0000-0002-3792-9708

 

Dr Yael Dahan-Moss is employed as a Medical Scientist at the Vector Control Reference Laboratory (VCRL) located at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in Johannesburg, South Africa.

She graduated from the University of the Witwatersrand with a PhD in Molecular and Cell Biology in 2012, after which she joined VCRL as a postdoctoral fellow before being employed at the centre as a Medical Scientist. Dahan-Moss has a joint staff appointment with the Wits Research Institute for Malaria within the School of Pathology.

 

Her research interest includes investigating the molecular biology ofAnopheles malaria vectors species, with special interest in Anopheles funestus.  Understanding the underlying molecular factors that influence the physiology of the major malaria vectors is necessary for the development of sustainable vector control strategies. She has been supervising/co-supervising different research projects that focus on the molecular and physiological biology ofAnopheles arabiensis and Anopheles funestus.  These research projects produced very interesting and important findings regarding malaria vectors biology, which was communicated in peer-reviewed articles and scientific presentations.

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du Plessis, Mignon

Dr.
PhD, BSc (Hons)

Field/s of Research

Respiratory diseases, molecular characterisation of pathogens, molecular diagnostics, meningitis pathogens, genomics

Research Interest

Respiratory diseases, molecular characterisation of pathogens, molecular diagnostics, meningitis pathogens, genomics

ORCid Number

0000-0001-9186-0679

 

Dr Mignon du Plessis works at the Centre for Respiratory Diseases and Meningitis (CRDM) at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in Johannesburg, South Africa. She obtained her PhD from the University of the Witwatersrandand and has a broad background in microbiology and molecular biology, with specific training and expertise in molecular characterisation of respiratory and meningitis-causing pathogens and specialised molecular diagnostics.

Her activities include managing various molecular activities of the department related to surveillance, research, outbreak response and diagnostic testing and pathogen characterisation for the following pathogens: Streptococcus pneumoniae, Neisseria meningitidis, Haemophilus influenzae, Corynebacterium diphtheriae and atypical pneumonia-causing pathogens (Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Chlamydia pneumoniae, Legionella spp. and Bordetella pertussis), influenza virus, respiratory syncytial virus and SARS-CoV-2.

CRDM serves as a World Health Organization (WHO) regional reference laboratory for molecular testing of CSF specimens collected in southern African countries participating in pediatric invasive bacterial meningitis surveillance. Additionally, the centre serves as a WHO regional reference laboratory for SARS-CoV-2 and a WHO national influenza centre. This function includes laboratory support and training in-country as well as externally in other African countries. To date, Du Plessis has authored/co-authored 68 publications in international peer-reviewed journals and successfully supervised 9 MSc/PhD students. She is registered with the Health Professionals Council of South Africa (HPCSA) as a Medical Biological Scientist (Microbiology) and has a National Research Foundation rating of C2 (established researcher).

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Govender, Nelesh

Prof.
MBBCh, MMed, FCPath (SA), FRCPath (UK), MSc Epi, MSc Mycology, DTM&H, Dip HIV (SA)

Field/s of Research

Medical mycology

Research Interest

Medical mycology

ORCid Number

0000-0001-7869-9462

 

Prof Nelesh Govender is Head of the Centre for Healthcare-Associated Infections, Antimicrobial Resistance and Mycoses at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in Johannesburg, South Africa. He is a Professor in the School of Pathology, Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of the Witwatersrand, and is an Honorary Professor at both the University of Cape Town and University of Exeter. His research focuses on the epidemiology, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of life-threatening fungal diseases in vulnerable populations and he works towards gaining a better understanding of antifungal susceptibility and genetic relatedness of the fungal pathogens that cause these diseases.

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Grobbelaar, Antoinette

Ms.
MSc

Field/s of Research

Diagnostics and molecular epidemiology of viral hemorrhagic fevers and rabies

Research Interest

Diagnostics and molecular epidemiology of viral hemorrhagic fevers and rabies

ORCid Number

0000-0002-2293-343X

 

Antoinette Grobbelaar is currently employed as a Medical Scientist in the Special Viral Pathogens Laboratory of the Centre for Emerging Zoonotic and Parasitic Diseases at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases. She is involved in the development and validation of molecular tools for the diagnosis of viral hemorrhagic fever viruses and rabies. Grobbelaar’s obtained an MSc qualification at the University of the Witwatersrand and completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Stellenbosch. Her research focus is on molecular epidemiology of zoonotic viral pathogens.

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Haeri Mazanderani, Ahmad

Dr.
MBChB, MMed, FCPath (SA) Viro, PhD

Field/s of Research

HIV, Hepatitis A

Research Interest

HIV early infant diagnosis

ORCid Number

0000-0001-7644-153X

 

Dr Ahmad Haeri Mazanderani (MBChB, Dip HIVMan (SA), MMed, FC Path (SA) Viro, PhD) is a Clinical Virologist in the Centre for HIV & STIs at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in Johannesburg, South Africa. His primary responsibilities include paediatric HIV surveillance and reporting to the National Department of Health. Mazanderani has a particular interest in paediatric HIV diagnosis, and how to ensure accurate results are provided within the context of an ever-changing epidemiological landscape.

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Hellferscee, Orienka

Dr.
BSc, BSc (Hons), MSc, PhD

Field/s of Research

Virology, Molecular Epidemiology

Research Interest

Research on arboviruses with a special focus on molecular epidemiology and development of serological assays for detection of emerging arboviruses.

ORCid Number

0000-0001-9246-8927


Dr Orienka Hellferscee works as a Medical Scientist in the Centre for Emerging Zoonotic and Parasitic Diseases at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases. Her research interest includes research on arboviruses with a special focus on molecular epidemiology and development of serological assays for detection of emerging arboviruses.

She has previously conducted research on respiratory viruses and has over 40 publications and 650 citations in international journals. She has acted as technical advisor to the World Health Organization on influenza surveillance and is registered with the South African Health Professional Council as a Medical Scientist.

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Howard, Wayne

Mr.
MSc

Field/s of Research

Virology, molecular biology, immunology

Research Interest

Enteroviruses, immunometabolism

ORCid Number

0000-0001-6595-2430

 

Wayne Howard is a Medical Scientist at the Centre for Vaccines and Immunology at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in Johannesburg, South Africa. He has been involved in poliovirus surveillance and eradication efforts for over a decade. As a virologist and molecular biologist, his poliovirus eradication efforts have seen him working with the World Health Organization and the National Department of Health. Howard is involved periodically in training delegates from African countries in poliovirus laboratory surveillance techniques. He is trained in high-containment laboratory operations and is now branching out into immunology. His Ph.D. is focusing on the nicotinamide synthesis pathway and macrophage polarisation in COVID-19.

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Jassat, Waasila

Dr.
MBBCh, MMed, FCPHM

Field/s of Research

Public health, health policy and systems, infectious disease surveillance, TB, COVID-19

Research Interest

Using surveillance data for planning

ORCid Number

342793056

 

Dr Waasila Jassat (MBBCh, MMed, FCPHM) is a medical doctor and public health medicine specialist. She works at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) in Johannesburg, South Africa, where she leads the DATCOV hospital surveillance for COVID-19 where she analyses COVID-19 hospital admissions, support the Ministerial Advisory Committee and National Incident Management Team in tracking the epidemic, as well as providing data for modelling purposes.

Dr Jassat has also led in conducting a sentinel surveillance study in long-term care homes, a long COVID study, and a sentinel surveillance study in 16 public hospitals to better understand the contribution of non-communicable diseases, namely HIV and TB, to COVID-19 mortality. The DATCOV team has also collaborated with the World Health Organization and the International Severe Acute Respiratory and Emerging Infection Consortium (ISARIC), providing South African data for pooled global analysis of COVID-19 hospitalisation and long COVID data.

She is currently registered towards a PhD at the University of Western Cape, focused on understanding the gap between health policy and its implementation. She employed a case study analysis of the implementation of the policy framework of drug-resistant TB decentralisation in two provinces, the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

Dr Jassat has 20-years’ experience in clinical practice, research and management in the South African public health sector and has a strong interest in health systems, particularly in using information for health planning and effective implementation of health programmes.

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Kekana, Dikeledi

Ms.
BSc (Hons)

Field/s of Research

Medical science

Research Interest

Bioinformatics

ORCid Number

0000-0003-2295-2099


Dikeledi Kekana is a Medical Scientist (Bioinformatics) who completed her honours degree at the Nelson Mandela University, majoring in Physiology. Her research project focused on the neuroinflamation in rats prenatally exposed to a high fat diet. Kekana completed a Master’s degree in medicine, focusing on infectious diseases and clinical microbiology from the University of the Witwatersrand. Kekana is currently working as a Bioinformatics Scientist at the National Institute of Communicable Diseases located in Johannesburg, South Africa. She is focusing on next-generation sequencing (NGS) data analysis of Viral genomes.

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Kitchin, Dale

Dr.
PhD, BSc (Hons)

Field/s of Research

Virology, B cell Immunology

Research Interest

Characterising neutralising antibody responses to viral infections and vaccination

ORCid Number

0000-0002-9491-8431

 

Dr Dale Kitchin obtained his PhD in Microbiology and Biotechnology from the University of the Witwatersrand in 2017 following undergraduate degrees in Biochemistry and Cell Biology at the same institution. After completing his PhD he joined the HIV Virology Section at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases as a postdoctoral research fellow, under the mentorship of Prof Penny Moore.

His postdoctoral research focused on delineating the ontogeny of anti-HIV-1 broadly neutralising antibody lineages, using a combination of cellular assays, high-throughput sequencing and bioinformatic methods.

Since 2021 he has been a Senior Medical Scientist at the same unit, where he is responsible for managing several HIV and SARS-CoV-2 research projects, including the virus surveillance component of the IAVI ADVANCE program, and supervising postgraduate students. His current research looks at how cross-reactive neutralising antibody lineages develop following viral infection or vaccination, and assessing the impact that viral genetic diversity has on the effectiveness of vaccines and monoclonal antibody therapies for pathogens that have direct public health implications for African populations.

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Kleynhans, Jackie

Ms.
BSc (Hons), MSc, MPH

Field/s of Research

Epidemiology of respiratory diseases

Research Interest

Transmission dynamics of respiratory infections, the role social contact patterns on SARS-CoV-2 and influenza virus transmission, modelling of transmission dynamics

ORCid Number

0000-0001-7081-6273

 

Jackie Kleynhans is an Epidemiologist in the Centre for Respiratory Diseases and Meningitis (CRDM) at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in Johannesburg, South Africa. She qualified from the University of Pretoria with a Master’s degree in Public Health through the South African Field Epidemiology Training Programme and has a background in medical science. She is also a PhD candidate at the University of the Witwatersrand, working on her thesis that focuses on SARS-CoV-2 transmission and contact patterns.
At the CRDM, Kleynhans supports the development and implementation of epidemiological studies that includes assiting with protocol writing and logistics for field implementation, through to data management, cleaning and analysis, and the dissemination through reports, conference presentations and peer-review publications. She also actively participates in training activities at the centre and provides epidemiological support, mentorship and supervision to students and colleagues.
Kleynhans has a passion for learning, mastering new concepts and mentoring others. Her primary research interests include the epidemiology of respiratory diseases like influenza and COVID-19, vaccine impact studies, how social contact patterns influence the transmission of respiratory diseases, and modelling of infectious disease transmission dynamics.

 

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Koekemoer, Lizette

Prof.
PhD

Field/s of Research

Malaria vector biology and control

Research Interest

Entomology, control, malaria

ORCid Number

0000-0003-4236-6345

 

Prof Lizette Koekemoer holds a honourary appointment at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, located in Johannesburg, South Africa. She is currently the co-director of the Wits Research Institute for Malaria, and a Research Professor and a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society in London. Prof Koekemoer 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 26-years of research experience, Prof Koekemoer has lead multiple projects focusing on malaria vector systematics; insecticide resistance and the molecular mechanisms involved; and transmission-blocking strategies. She has supervised and co-supervised more than 65 students, hosted post-doctoral fellows and has successfully secured research grants from a wide variety of funders.

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Kufa-Chakezha, Tendesayi

Dr.
MBChB, MPH, PhD, DTM&H

Field/s of Research

HIV, sexually transmitted infections, infectious diseases

Research Interest

HIV and STI epidemiology and prevention , HIV/STI integration

ORCid Number

0000-0002-9797-616X

 

Dr Tendesayi Kufa-Chakezha is a medical doctor with postgraduate training in public health and epidemiology. She holds a master’s degree in Public Health and a PhD in Epidemiology. She is currently a Senior Epidemiologist at the National Institute of Communicable Diseases’ Centre for HIV and STIs in Johannesburg, South Africa. In this role she designs and implements surveillance and research activities, as well as mentoring junior staff and students.
Over the past 17 years, she has held different positions in HIV prevention, care and treatment programmes, academia and research. Her research interests are in the epidemiology and prevention of HIV and STIs, particularly how to leverage the STI service platform in order to improve the prevention, care and treatment of STIs. And also how to leverage HIV services to improve the care and management of STIs.
Her current research projects are looking at the acceptability and feasibility of dual HIV/syphilis screening among males attending VMMC services, congenital syphilis case surveillance and the detection of acute HIV infection among adults attending STI services. She has authored more than 40 papers and has supervised 11 masters and one doctoral student. She is an honorary senior lecturer at the University of the Witwatersrand’s School of Public Health and lectures on HIV epidemiology, evaluation of screening and diagnostic tests, validity and reliability. She has served on the SANAC task team on strategic information and WHO technical working group on HIV surveillance using routine data.

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Lowe, Michelle

Dr.
PhD

Field/s of Research

Medical microbiology, antimicrobial resistance, molecular biology, whole-genome sequencing, genomics and bioinformatics.

Research Interest

ESKAPE pathogens that cause healthcare-associated infections

ORCid Number

0000-0001-6399-6229

 

Dr Michelle Lowe obtained her BSc qualifatoin at the North West University, and her BSc Hons, MSc (cum laude) and PhD qualifactions at the University of Pretoria. Dr Lowe is currently appointed as a Medical Scientist in the Centre for Healthcare-Associated Infections, Antimicrobial Resistance and Mycoses (CHARM) at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Her research focuses on the laboratory detection, characterisation, molecular epidemiology and evolution of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in humans and food animals. Her main research scope is on the ESKAPE pathogens (i.e. Enterococcus faecium, Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Enterobacter species) which cause healthcare-associated infections.
Dr Lowe is involved with the supervision of post-graduate students and training of intern Medical Scientists on the application of molecular techniques in the Microbiology laboratory, including techniques related to laboratory identification and characterisation of healthcare-associated pathogens.

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Mahlangu , Precious

Ms.
MSc (Microbiology)

Field/s of Research

Molecular biology

Research Interest

Molecular resistance testing

ORCid Number

0000-0002-6539-5520

 

Mahlape Precious Mahlangu, is an experienced Medical Scientist with skills in molecular techniques at the Centre for HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in Johannesburg, South Africa. Driven by a passion to learn new molecular techniques, she takes pride in providing quality results for patients. Her educational background includes a Masters in Science (in Microbiology) from the University of Witwatersrand and a certificate in Total Quality Management from UNISA.
After earning her BSc Honours in Microbiology from the University of Pretoria, she entered the medical scientist world to explore her passion in the medical field. She started working at the South African Institute of Medical Research (SAIMR) as a Research Assistant in a TB Laboratory headed by Prof Hendrik J Koornhof. She then moved to the National Institute for Virology as a Medical Scietist in the Polio Laboratory headed by Prof Berry Schoub.
In order to explore different techniques, Mahlangu was requested to assist with molecular procedures in the HIV Laboratory headed by Prof Adrian Puren.

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Makhasi, Mvuyo

Mr.
BSc (Electrical and Information Engineering), MSc (Engineering)

Field/s of Research

Respiratory disease surveillance, digital participatory surveillance, modelling transmission dynamics of respiratory diseases

Research Interest

Syndromic surveillance of acute respiratory infections (ARI)

ORCid Number

0000-0002-7647-9463

 

Mvuyo Makhasi studied Electrical and Information Engineering at the University of Witwatersrand and started his career as a technical specialist in the Visa payments network for a private bank. He always had a passion for using technology and innovation to solve real world challenges and was fortunate to be appointed as a Master’s Fellow at the Centre for Respiratory Diseases and Meningitis, where he ran his first study – a wearable proximity sensor pilot for quantifying contact patterns between individuals in households in South Africa (Mpumalanga and North West).

Makhasi fell in love with public health research instantly and developed a strong interest in public health and epidemiology. He obtained a master’s degree from the School of Electrical and Information Engineering, where he used quantitative methods to analyse contact patterns towards understanding transmission dynamics of respiratory diseases. He is also interested in developing health systems that improve data collection and analysis of respiratory disease surveillance in South Africa.

Makhasi’s primary research focus is establishing a crowdsourced health platform for the syndromic surveillance of acute respiratory infections (ARI). This involves developing a digital participatory surveillance platform, where members of the community in South Africa can self-report symptoms of ARI, using an online survey. The goal is to address some of the limitations of respiratory disease surveillance and describe the epidemiology of non-medically attended cases of ARI. In addition to this, he is working on assessing the feasibility of linking this platform to laboratory confirmation of self-reported suspected cases through home-based testing. He would like to learn more and employ the application of Big Data and Data Science approaches to respiratory disease epidemiology.

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Magobo, Rindidzani

Dr.
PhD

Field/s of Research

Genomic characterisation of healthcare-associated infections in neonates

Research Interest

Genomic profiling of CoNs causing sepsis in neonates

ORCid Number

0000-0002-0950-0146

 

Dr Rindidzani Magobo is a young emerging researcher and currently appointed as senior Medical Scientist at the Centre of Healthcare-Associated Infections, Antimicrobial Resistance and Mycoses at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases.

She obtained PhD in Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases at the University of the Witwatersrand under Prof Nelesh P. Govender’s guidance. Over the years, her research focus area included molecular epidemiology and antifungal resistance mechanisms of azole-resistant Candida parapsilosis and Candida auris, which cause large healthcare-associated outbreaks in South Africa. The major highlight of her PhD was to describe the first cases of C. auris infections in Southern Africa. Her research has set a framework for future studies on molecular investigations (genetic diversity and resistance mechanisms) in other azole-resistant Candida species. She is currently overseeing and managing the laboratory segment of Baby GERMS-SA surveillance project.

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Manana, Pinky

Ms.
MPH

Field/s of Research

Health sciences, social science

Research Interest

Community engagement, malaria, TB, HIV

ORCid Number

0000-0002-6502-4308

 

Pinky Manana is a qualified Epidemiologist with five years’ experience in providing expertise in public health and a masters’ degree in Public Health. She has 10-years’ experience in health care services and is a PhD candidate at the University of the Witwatersrand. She has published six articles in international peer-reviewed journals and presented at both national and international conferences. In 2020 she was awarded the Seed grant funding by the University of the Witwatersrand.
In 2015, Manana took a lead in a Knowledge, Attitude and Practices survey, which resulted in drafting of community engagement programs as part of the elimination strategy for malaria that has been used to increase knowledge in vector control strategies in South Africa, in collaboration with the Wits Research Institute for Malaria and the Vector Control Reference Unit at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases. In 2017, she worked in collaboration with different stakeholders in the following activities:
1. Participated in the Joint External Evaluation for the International Health Regulation 2005 in collaboration with the National Department of Health for the Centre Disease Control and Prevention (US CDC) February to November 2017 to assess readiness status of the country to detect, respond and control outbreaks.
2. Contributed towards the development of the landscape documents, job descriptions and identification of role within the different cadres in the Department of Health for the development of Epidemiology Capacity Building in South Africa.
Recently, she contributed to and supported COVID-19 activities, including investigations and management, surveillance development and monitoring, protocol writing, data analysis and manuscript writing including technical support on COVID-19 vaccination roll out.

 

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Maphanga, Tsidiso

Dr.
BSc, BSc (Hons), MSc, PhD

Field/s of Research

Medical Mycology

Research Interest

Whole genome sequencing of Emergomyces africanus strains from South Africa

ORCid Number

0000-0002-6117-4309

 

Dr Tsidiso Maphanga is an emerging scientist in the field of Medical Mycology. She is currently a senior Scientist at the Centre for Healthcare-Associated Infections, Antimicrobial Resistance and Mycoses at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases. She obtained her PhD degree from the University of Free State at the Department of Medical Microbiology under the supervision of Prof Nelesh P. Govender. Her research interests include understanding the molecular epidemiology of fungal pathogens which causes invasive diseases among hospitalized patients and this has led to the discovery of Blastomyces emzantsi and reclassification of thermally-dimorphic pathogens belonging to the Ajellomycetaceae family of which was the milestone for her PhD degree.

She also has an interest in antifungal susceptibility testing and understanding the mechanism of resistance of fungal pathogens. She is involved in the evaluation of newly developed diagnostic assays for accurate diagnosis and management of fungal pathogens causing life-threatening invasive mycoses (including candidemia and endemic mycoses). She has managed six research projects to completion and collaborated with both national and international researchers to produce more than 26 peer-reviewed publications with high impact factor.

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Mapengo, Rutendo

Ms.
MSc, BSc (Hons)

Field/s of Research

Pathogen genomics, mycology

Research Interest

Genomics, bioinformatics

ORCid Number

0000-0002-6014-5725

 

Rutendo Eugenia Mapengo completed her honours degree at the University of Fort Hare in 2012, majoring in Biochemistry and Microbiology. She obtained her Master’s degree in Molecular and Cell biology from the University of the Witwatersrand in 2016 and worked at as a Medical Scientist at the National Institute of Communicable Diseases for three years where she focused on vaccine development and the virological and immunological aspects of HIV-1.
Mapengo specialised in tissue culture, antibodies expression and quality control, virus production and molecular biology. She is also competent in microbial biotechnology, genomics and recombinant DNA technology. Currently she is studying towards a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases at the University of the Witwatersrand. Her research focusses on the epidemiology of Histoplasma capsulatum in South Africa, with a major focus on understanding the phenotypic characterisation and population comparative genomics of Histoplasma isolates from South African patients.

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Meiring, Susan

Dr.
MBChB, DTM&H

Field/s of Research

Neonatal sepsis, bacterial meningitis, vaccine-preventable diseases

Research Interest

Epidemiology and surveillance of infectious diseases

ORCid Number

0000-0003-4508-5469

 

Dr Susan Meiring is the Clinical Coordinator for the GERMS-SA Surveillance Network. GERMS-SA coordinates and runs national and sentinel, laboratory-based and clinical surveillance programmes of ‘diseases-of-public-health-importance’ at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in Johannesburg, South Africa. From the many surveillance programmes, special studies arise which are planned and coordinated by the GERMS-SA staff. Meiring has been the principal investigator for three special studies, namely meningococcal carriage study in university students, neonatal bloodstream infections and meningitis study in secondary level institutions, and SARS-CoV-2 clinical characterisation and evaluation of shedding duration amongst patients hospitalised with COVID-19. Furthermore, she has been a co-investigator on many other surveillance studies.

GERMS-SA surveillance programmes cover a variety of bacterial, fungal and viral infections, including hospital-associated infections caused by pathogens such as Carbapenemase-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), Acenitobacter baumanii and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). In particular, Meiring has developed a keen interest in the epidemiology of meningococcal and invasive pneumococcal disease and the public health programmes aimed at their prevention. She is also passionate about understanding the various drivers of antimicrobial resistance in isolates from neonatal sepsis in South Africa.

She received her medical degree from the University of Cape Town in 2003 and is currently pursuing a PhD part-time (looking at the epidemiology of meningococcal disease in South Africa) through the School of Public Health at the University of Witwatersrand. She is a member of the Global Meningococcal Initiative and has published over 20 peer reviewed articles, in addition to being a peer reviewer for papers submitted to Emerging Infectious Diseases, PLoSOne and Lancet Infectious Diseases. In 2019 Meiring received the Young Investigators Award for life-time contribution to infectious disease research from the Institut Merieux and the South African Society for Paediatric Infectious Diseases.

 

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Moolla, Naazneen

Dr.
PhD

Field/s of Research

Viral haemorrhagic fever viruses, rabies

Research Interest

Diagnostics for viral haemorrhagic fever viruses, rabies, recombinant protein expression, MinION sequencing

ORCid Number

0000-0002-2069-6418

 

A graduate of the University of Witwatersrand with Doctor of Philosophy (Medicine) degree and a post-graduate diploma in management (PDM), Naazneen Moolla joined the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in 2011 and has been with the Special Viral Pathogens Laboratory since.

She is accomplished in the field of molecular research where she has experience in the development of molecular assays, candidate vaccines, the management and establishment of a Biosafety level II – IV facilities, and the supervision of students. Most of Moolla’s work is directed towards increasing regional capacity for rapid diagnosis as well as the improvement and maintenance of surveillance programs.

With respect to her technical expertise, she is skilled in production and biochemical analysis of recombinant proteins expressed in mammalian and bacterial systems. The main focus of her research and activities is improving the diagnostic capacity for viral haemorrhagic fevers (VHF) in South Africa. Moolla has experience in the development of serological assays for the diagnosis of filoviruses, in particular Ebola virus. The filovirus, Ebola virus is significant human pathogen that causes severe haemorrhagic fevers in humans and present a public health concern as emerging or re-emerging pathogens. This is evidenced by the prolonged nature and severity of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa (2014) and the outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo (2019). She also has a special interest in mammarenaviruses, like Lassa and has been working on improving diagnostics assays (both molecular and serological) for these viruses.

Moolla is the lead on the next generation sequencing (NGS) project that is assessing the utility of using the Oxford- Nanopore MinION device, as a tool for rapid VHF diagnosis.

 

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Moyo-Gwete, Thandeka

Dr.
PhD

Field/s of Research

Immunology and structural biology

Research Interest

Infectious diseases

ORCid Number

0000-0002-4269-9281

 

Dr Thandeka Moyo-Gwete, Senior Medical Scientist at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in Johannesburg, South Africa, holds a PhD in Clinical Science and Immunology from the University of Cape Town where she looked at the mechanisms used by various HIV strains to gain resistance to broadly neutralising antibody responses. Dr Moyo-Gwete’s current research involves understanding the structure and function of HIV neutralising antibodies by X-ray crystallography. More recently she has added SARS-CoV-2 to her research focus, developing serological assays to measure humoral responses to infection and vaccination.

 

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Muchengeti, Mazvita

Dr.
MBChB, Postgraduate Diploma in HIV Management, MSc , PhD

Field/s of Research

Cancer surveillance, infection-related cancer epidemiology

Research Interest

HIV-associated cancers, cervical cancer

ORCid Number

0000-0002-1955-923X

 

Dr Mazvita Muchengeti (MBChB, Dip HIV Management, MSc Epidemiology & Biostatistics, PhD) is a Senior Epidemiologist at the National Cancer Registry (NCR) and is responsible for leading research staff and students. Her main research interests lie in cancer surveillance and infection-related cancers in African populations. She leads the South African HIV Cancer Match Study, a national virtual cohort of people living with HIV, created from NHLS HIV laboratory data and NCR cancer data using probabilistic record linkage methodology. She is also a senior honorary lecturer at the Wits School of Public Health and a research associate at SACEMA, Stellenbosch University.

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Muller, Etienne

Dr.
BMedSci, BSc (Hons), MSc, PhD

Field/s of Research

Sexually transmitted infections

Research Interest

STI surveillance and antimicrobial resistance

ORCid Number

0000-0002-9800-491X

 

Dr Etienne Muller is a Principal Medical Scientist at the Sexually Transmitted Infection Section in the Centre for HIV & Sexually Transmitted Infections at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in Johannesburg, South Africa. Muller does research in public health and sexually transmitted infections, and supervises the molecular testing activities for STI surveillance and research within the STI Section. His own research focuses on the molecular detection of antimicrobial resistance determinants in STI pathogens, and the development and implementation of molecular-based STI typing methods. Muller participates in the conception and execution of departmental research projects on STIs, provides supervision to staff and student research projects and assists with departmental teaching commitments.

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Munhenga, Givemore

Dr.
PhD , MSC , BSc (Hons)

Field/s of Research

Vector Control, insecticide resistance management, insect ecology

Research Interest

Phenotypic plasticity in insects, malaria vectors

ORCid Number

0000-0002-8431-6947

 

Dr Givemore Munhenga is an NRF rated scientist with over ten years experience providing expertise and research in agriculture and public health. He is experienced in malaria vectors ecology and behaviour regarding malaria transmission, has solid knowledge in insect taxonomy, insect colony establishment and maintenance, molecular techniques and insecticide resistance monitoring. Munhenga is employed as a Principal Medical Scientist at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases and holds a joint appointment as a Senior Researcher within the Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Pathology at the University of Witwatersrand.
Munhenga’s research interests include understanding interactions between ecological forces, such as exposure to insecticides that lead to behavioural modification in malaria vectors and subsequent changes in habitat colonisation. The ultimate objective is to use this knowledge to develop new techniques to complement existing malaria interventions.
Main projects:
1) Development of the SIT for Anopheles arabiensis control in South Africa.
2) Evaluation and optimisation of mosquito surveillance systems under low malaria transmission settings
3) Genetic structuring in the primary malaria vector Anopheles arabiensis and implication on vector control in South Africa.
4) Development of an Anopheles arabiensis sex separation strain for the South African Sterile Insect Technique programme
5) Investigating New Models for Community Engagement during vector control methods that involve the release of laboratory-reared mosquito releases.
6) Exploring the potential of geospatial tools to understand Anopheles arabiensis population dynamics in KZN

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Nadan, Sandrama

Dr.
PhD

Field/s of Research

Medical virology

Research Interest

Public health, molecular biology, gastroenteritis

ORCid Number

307582720

 

Dr Sandrama Nadan holds a BSc degree in Microbiology and Biochemistry from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, an honours degree from the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, and a master’s degree and doctorate from the University of Pretoria. She is actively involved in enteric diarrhoeal research and is currently a Senior Medical Scientist at the Centre for Enteric Diseases at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Dr Nadan is involved in training young scientists, intern scientists and postgraduate students. She also serves as a reviewer for peer-reviewed scientific publications. Her research interests lie in the molecular epidemiology of viruses, childhood diarrhoeal diseases and public health. She has a keen interest in vaccination development and rollouts, including surveillance and monitoring the changes in the healthcare environment post-vaccination.
She has authored, and is co-authored several scientific articles published in peer-reviewed journals and is the recipient of a PRF grant and the NHLS Research Trust grant. Her current research project is investigation of the molecular characterisation of astroviruses, a viral aetiological agent of diarrhoea in humans. The aim of the project is to develop alternate methods for identification of different genotypes and thereby present revised criteria for the current system used in astrovirus classification.

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Naicker, Serisha

Dr.
BSc (Hons), MSc (Med), PhD

Field/s of Research

Medical microbiology

Research Interest

Medical microbiology

ORCid Number

0000-0002-4445-1482

 

Dr Serisha Naicker is a registered Medical Scientist at the Mycology Reference Laboratory (MRL) in the Centre for Healthcare-Associated Infections, Antimicrobial Resistance and Mycoses at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) in Johannesburg, South Africa. Her research career at the NICD began as a Medical Scientist Intern in 2012 after completing a Master of Science in Medicine at the University of the Witwatersrand. She undertook her undergraduate studies at the same university and completed a Medical Scientist internship to register as part of the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA). Naicker is currently pursuing a PhD in Medical Microbiology.
She performs molecular testing (identification and genotyping) on fungal pathogens and is involved in various research projects on fungal pathogens. Naicker has worked on the molecular epidemiology, antifungal susceptibility testing and virulence of clinical Cryptococcus neoformans and Cryptococcus gattii isolates collected through GERMS-SA surveillance, which then became the subject of her PhD project. Her current research projects include yeasts, such as Candida auris and Candida glabrata, as well as moulds and dimorphic fungi.

 

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Oliver, Shuné

Dr.
MSc, PhD

Field/s of Research

Vector biology, molecular biology, immunology

Research Interest

Mosquito biology, novel vector control methods, mosquito immunology and vector competence, mosquito microbiome studies

ORCid Number

0000-0003-0658-6658

 

Dr Shüné Oliver obtained her undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications at the University of Witswatersrand (Wits), shifting from the School of Molecular and Cell Biology where she majored in Microbiology and Biochemistry, culminating in an immunity-focused MSc in Biochemistry. She moved from working on the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster to mosquitoes with her PhD. During her PhD, she began her independent research career with NRF Thuthuka pre-and post-PhD funding. After obtaining her PhD in 2015, she was awarded an NRF Y-rating in 2021. Her work focusses on the global effects of insecticide resistance on the biology of malaria vectors. This includes understanding the effect of environmental stress on this interaction, characterising the role of microbiome in mosquito biology, and unpicking the interplay between insecticide resistance and the mosquito immune system.

Oliver’s research brings together her background in molecular biology with her love of mosquitoes. She is also involved in various aspects of science communication, with an aim of making entomology accessible to the public. She is intensively involved in academic citizenship, including executive roles in the Entomological Society of South Africa and Wits Women in Science committees. She is also actively involved in both undergraduate teaching and postgraduate supervision.

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Omar, Shaheed Vally

Dr.
PhD

Field/s of Research

Medical microbiology

Research Interest

Tuberculosis

ORCid Number

0000-0001-6983-1636

 

Dr Shaheed Vally Omar MSc(Med) PhD(Med), is a Medical Scientist with specialisation in Microbiology, focusing on Mycobacterium tuberculosis research since his post-graduate training. He currently leads the following scientific programmes in the Centre for Tuberculosis at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in Johannesburg, South Africa; diagnostic evaluations for both active and latent disease state; drug resistance determination and surveillance; molecular epidemiology of drug resistance tuberculosis; and the application of novel technologies for these purposes. He further is the lead scientist of the National TB Reference Laboratory as well as the WHO TB Supranational Laboratory Network.
Dr. Omar has been instrumental in the establishment and implementation of molecular-based applications at the centre, which shaped capacity to perform molecular typing and Next-Generation Sequencing. His current research focus includes; evaluation of the new technologies for detection and drug resistance prediction of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, establishment of breakpoints and critical concentrations for diagnostic laboratory phenotypic drug susceptibility testing of new and repurposed drugs, surveillance, emergence and evolution of drug resistance to these novel drugs, the identification of genetic correlates/markers associated with drug resistance and a survey on latent TB infection in Health Care Workers in South Africa.
He has over 50 peer-reviewed publications and has participated as a presenter or invited speaker at over 60 local and international conferences preceding. He further serves as a peer reviewer for several accredited journals.
His collaborations are both local and international and he is currently a Principal Investigator for South Africa on several studies contributing to the development on novel strategies for the diagnosis of tuberculosis and drug resistance detection and control of the burden of disease. He is member on the Comprehensive Resistance Prediction for Tuberculosis: An International Consortium (CRyPTIC) and Public Health Alliance for Genomic Epidemiology (PHAGE consortium), which focuses on operationalizing next-generation sequencing for diagnostic and surveillance applications. He has been selected to form part of the Expert Panel and Technical Expert Group advising in his area of expertise for the Foundation for New Innovative Diagnostics and the World Health Organization, respectively.

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Page, Nicola

Prof.
PhD, MSc (Med), MPH, BSc (Hons), BSc (Agric)

Field/s of Research

Diarrhoeal diseases

Research Interest

Diarrhoeal diseases

ORCid Number

0000-0001-5845-4417


Nicola Page is a principal scientist, leading the Virology Division of the Centre for Enteric Diseases at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases. She holds an extra-ordinary professor position within the Department of Medical Virology at the University of Pretoria, is a registered medical scientist (Virology) with the Health Professionals Council of South Africa (HPCSA) and has a C1 National Research Foundation (NRF) rating. She completed her undergraduate training at the University of Pretoria in 1995 (cum laude), following up with an Honours degree in 1997. She moved to the Medical University of South Africa, under the guidance of Prof Duncan Steele and competed an MSc(Med) in Medical Virology in 2001 and a PhD in 2005. She has also subsequently completed the SA-FETP training program (2014-2015) and obtained an MPH at the University of Pretoria, graduating cum laude in 2016. She is a member of several national and international professional associations and working groups. 

She has authored or co-authored more than 60 refereed articles in scientific journals, worked on the WHO Manual of rotavirus detection and characterization and was a guest editor on the Journal of Infectious Diseases – Rotavirus in Africa supplement. She has presented numerous papers at national and international conferences and meetings and is a principal investigators on projects supported by national and international funding agencies. In addition, she has successfully supervised 1 BSc (Hons), 7 MSc, 3 MPH and 3 PhDs with 2 PhDs and 2 MSc projects currently in process. Her main research fields include diarrhoeal diseases, the development of molecular techniques for the detection and characterization of pathogens associated with diarrhoea, the monitoring of rotavirus vaccine effectiveness, molecular epidemiology of enteric viruses, evaluation of new enteric vaccine candidates, development of new data tools for studying the epidemiology of diarrhoea and the gut microbiome.

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Perovic, Olga

Prof.
MD, DTM&H, FC PATH (SA) MICRO, MMED MICRO

Field/s of Research

Microbiology, infectious diseases, antimicrobial resistance, infection prevention and control outbreak, public health, laboratory quality, surveillance

Research Interest

Antimicrobial resistance , public health, external quality assessment

ORCid Number

0000-0001-5580-4629


Prof Olga Perovic is currently  lead for the Antimicrobial Resistance Laboratory and Culture Collection at the Centre for Healthcare-Associated Infections, Antimicrobial Resistance and Mycoses at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases located in Johannesburg, South Africa. She is an Associate Professor within the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of the Witwatersrand and has been the Head of the WHO Collaborating Centre for AMR in the AFRO region since 2017. Perovic in an honorary research fellow at the University of Kwazulu-Natal.

She is the Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) lead in South Africa, principal investigator of national surveillance for antimicrobial resistance for nosocomial pathogens at GERMS-SA, is an expert in laboratory quality for resistance and antimicrobial susceptibility testing methods and their clinical applications; and finally teaches and trains undergraduate, postgraduate and other related learners.

 

Perovic is a member of Ministerial advisory Committee (MAC) for AMR, Global Antibiotic Resistance Partnership (GARP), Global Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance System (GLASS), Advisory Group of Experts on In vitro Diagnostics (SAGE IVD) WHO, Advisory Group on Critically Important Antimicrobials (AG CIA) for Human Medicine and Chair of the National Advisory Committee for Antimicrobial at the South African Society of Clinical Microbiology (SASCM).

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Prabdial-Sing, Nishi

Dr.
PhD

Field/s of Research

Viral hepatitis, virology, infectious diseases, molecular biology

Research Interest

Diagnostics, surveillance, molecular epidemiology, sequencing

ORCid Number


Nishi Prabdial-Sing is employed as a Principal Medical Scientist at the Centre for Vaccines and Immunology at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases located in Johannesburg, South Africa. She has a PhD degree in Medical Virology from the School of Pathology at the University of Witwatersrand.

As a joint faculty member at WITS Faculty of Health Sciences, Prabdial-Sing has successfully supervised and co-supervised seven Honours/Masters students at WITS and North West University. She was appointed as a member of the Pathred Advisory Committee (Virology) for the 2021 Pathred conference and an assessor of Masters protocols at WITS. She has 17 peer-reviewed journal publications, 8 NICD bulletin publications, and was awarded a C2 NRF-rating. She holds research awards from the Poliomyelitis Research Fund and NHLS research trust (2019-2022).

Prabdial-Sing is a member of the technical working group (TWG) on the compilation of the National Guidelines for the management of viral hepatitis with the South African National Department of Health (NDoH). Since 2018, she has been part of the key population focus group tasked with providing the NDoH with strategic and feasible plans of reducing the burden of viral hepatitis disease in the country. Since 2015, she has been involved with the World Health Organization as an expert consultant in the global poliovirus eradication program and was part of the NICD scientific team in the 2014 Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone. Since 2012, she has been co-ordinating the HPCSA medical science internship programs and facilitating the Virology program at the NICD. She has successfully trained and mentored 19 medical intern scientists.

Currently, she is a member of Federation of the Infectious Diseases Societies of Southern Africa (FIDSSA), Royal Society of Medicine, UK and International Network on Health and Hepatitis in Substance Users (INHSU).

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Quan, Vanessa

Dr.
MBBCh, DCH, DTM&H, MPH

Field/s of Research

Public Health Surveillance, pneumococcus, cryptococcosis, zoonotic diseases, neonatal sepsi

Research Interest

Neonatal sepsis

ORCid Number

0000-0003-1666-4752


Dr Vanessa Quan is a medical doctor who qualified in 1993 at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg South Africa. She has an interest in child health and infectious diseases, and holds a Master’s qualifcation in Public Health, Maternal and Child Health. She has been in employ at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in Johannesburg, South Africa since 2002. She works in surveillance and heads the GERMS-SA Surveillance platform, a national laboratory surveillance system with an enhanced, sentinel surveillance arm and clinics for syndromic surveillance.

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Rachida, Said

Dr.
PhD

Field/s of Research

Wastewater, virology

Research Interest

Wastewater surveillance

ORCid Number

0000-0002-5483-5121


Dr Said Rachida is a Senior Medical Scientist researching SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater at the Centre for Vaccines and Immunology (CVI) at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases located in Johannesburg, South Africa. Under the mentorship of Professor Maureen B. Taylor, Rachida spent seven years investigating the genetic identity of hepatitis A virus circulating within South African communities through analysis of clinical, water and wastewater sources. She was awarded a PhD in Medical Virology from the University of Pretoria for detecting potentially infectious hepatitis A virus strains from wastewater using viability PCR. Rachida is interested in studying the epidemiology of viruses through water and wastewater analyses.

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Raman, Jaishree

Dr.
BSc, BSc (Hons), MSc, PhD, Post Grad Dip in Education

Field/s of Research

Malaria, molecular biology, epidemiology

Research Interest

Drug and diagnostic resistance, genomic surveillance, malaria elimination, malaria control

ORCid Number

000-0003-0728-3093


Dr Jaishree Raman is a Molecular Biologist by training with a strong interest in malaria and public health. Raman currently heads the Laboratory for Antimalarial Resistance Monitoring and Malaria Operational Research (ARMMOR) at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in Johannesburg, South Africa. The core focus of ARMMOR is to improve malaria diagnostic and treatment options, with the ultimate aim of assisting South Africa and Africa to eliminate malaria. To this end, ARMMOR hosts the South African National Surveillance Programme for Antimalarial Drug and Diagnostic Resistance Monitoring. This robust surveillance programme enables the near real-time tracking of emerging resistance to inform case management policy and prompt containment responses.

In partnership with collaborators from other malaria endemic countries and research organisations, including the Universities of Cape Town, Pretoria, Namibia and California-San Francisco, Raman’s laboratory is currently investigating novel techniques and technologies aimed at improving malaria case detection and treatment practices. As an active member of regional research networks including the Pathogen Genomics Diversity Network Africa (PDNA), the Southern African Drug Efficacy Network and the Elimination 8 Initiative (E8), Raman is assisting to build much needed malaria molecular capacity within national malaria control programmes and academic institutions so that African scientists and healthcare professionals can provide African solutions to eliminating and eventually eradicating malaria.

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Scheepers, Cathrine

Dr.
PhD, MPhil (Cantab), MSc, BSc (Hons), BSc

Field/s of Research

HIV, SARS-CoV-2, immunology, immunogenetics

Research Interest

HIV, SARS-CoV-2, immunology, immunogenetics

ORCid Number

0000-0002-1683-0282


Dr Cathrine Scheepers is a Senior Medical Scientist in the Centre for HIV and STI’s at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in Johannesburg, South Africa. She is also a Researcher in the Antibody Immunity Research Unit within the School of Pathology at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits). She holds a PhD (Virology) from Wits, together with an MPhil (Computational Biology) from the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom.

Her main area of research is focused on understanding antibody genetic diversity and antibody responses to infections, particularly HIV and SARS-CoV-2. Scheepers has over 18 peer-reviewed articles and supervises post-graduate students.

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Smith, Anthony

Prof.
PhD

Field/s of Research

Surveillance and epidemiology of enteric bacterial pathogens

Research Interest

Enteric bacterial pathogens, surveillance, molecular epidemiology, whole-genome sequencing, genomics, metagenomics

ORCid Number

000-0002-3637-7155


Prof Anthony Smith is currently employed as a Principal Medical Scientist at the Centre for Enteric Diseases (CED) at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in Johannesburg, South Africa. Smith obtained his PhD in Molecular Microbiology from the University of the Witwatersrand and holds joint staff appointments with the University of Pretoria (Extraordinary Professor) and University of the Witwatersrand (Senior Research Officer).

Smith has a ‘C2’ rating with the National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa; a rating category for established researchers with a sustained recent record of productivity in their field of study. CED is a reference centre in South Africa for human isolates of Salmonella species, Shigella species, Campylobacter species, Vibrio cholerae, Listeria monocytogenes and diarrhoeagenic Escherichia coli. He is the coordinator for PulseNet Africa and a member of the PulseNet International steering committee (PulseNet is a molecular subtyping network for global enteric disease surveillance).

His current activities include diagnosis, surveillance and epidemiology of enteric bacterial pathogens in South Africa. He lectures and teaches on the application of molecular techniques in the microbiology laboratory, including techniques related to laboratory identification and characterisation of bacterial enteric pathogens. These techniques include PCR, molecular subtyping of bacteria (PFGE, MLVA and MLST), whole-genome sequencing and metagenomics. Smith is also involved with supervision of post-graduate students and training of intern medical scientists. His supervision of post-graduate students includes six PhD students and 14 MSc students, and his publication record includes 96 peer-reviewed publications.

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Venter, Ilze

Ms.
BSc, BSc (Hons), MSc (Medical Virology)

Field/s of Research

Medical virology, microbiology, sexually transmitted infections

Research Interest

Medical virology, microbiology

ORCid Number

0000-0001-9725-9606


Ilze Venter is an experienced Medical Scientist with an MSc degree in Medical Virology obtained from the University of Pretoria (UP). She started her career in molecular research at the Department of Medical Virology (UP) with a focus on waterborne enteric viruses and bacteria, especially hepatitis A virus, in raw, recreational and drinking water sources.

After joining the Sexually Transmitted Infections Section, part of the Centre for HIV & STIs (CHIVSTI), at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, she has accumulated extensive working experience in the field of STI research and surveillance. Currently, her main research interest is macrolide resistance and the molecular epidemiology of Treponema pallidum, the spirochete causing syphilis, in South Africa.

She is proficient in basic bacteriology, viral isolation in various cell cultures, ELISA, Immunofluorescence assays, Coxsackie B virus neutralisation assay, manual and automated total nucleic acid extractions, conventional RT-PCR and real-time PCR assays, probe hybridisation assays, HPV genotyping and analysis, restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) assays, DNA sequencing and analysis. Venter is also actively involved in the training of laboratory professionals, daily quality assurance and adherence to the ISO15189 standard. She has published several manuscripts in peer reviewed journals and has co-authored several more publications. Her research has been presented at national and international conferences. She is passionate about imparting knowledge and providing accurate and quality research to help inform the public and private health sector.

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von Gottberg, Anne

Prof.
PhD, FC Path (SA) MICRO, DTM&H, MBBCh

Field/s of Research

Clinical microbiology, diagnosis of causes of meningitis and pneumonia, vaccine-preventable diseases, vaccinology

Research Interest

Clinical microbiology, diagnosis of causes of meningitis and pneumonia, vaccine-preventable diseases, vaccinology

ORCid Number

0000-0002-0243-7455


Prof Anne von Gottberg is currently the laboratory lead for the Centre for Respiratory Diseases and Meningitis at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in Johannesburg, South Africa. She is furthermore an Associate Professor at the School of Pathology, Faculty of the Health Sciences at the University of the Witwatersrand and Honorary Professor at the Department of Pathology, Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Cape Town.
Dr Von Gottberg leads a laboratory team responsible for reference diagnostics for respiratory and meningeal pathogens nationally and regionally. The laboratory is the regional reference laboratory for the World Health Organization (WHO) Vaccine-preventable Invasive Bacterial Diseases (VP-IBD) Coordinated Global Surveillance Network for the southern African region; a National Influenza Centre (NIC); and a WHO RSV and SARS-CoV-2 Reference Laboratory.
Her main interests include surveillance of meningitis and respiratory pathogens and assessing vaccine efficacy. She has authored and co-authored more than 200 articles in peer-reviewed journals, in addition to supervising a number of Masters and PhD students.
Dr Von Gottberg obtained her MBBCh and PhD from the University of the Witwatersrand, and trained for her specialisation in clinical microbiology (FC Path[SA] MICRO) at the National Health Laboratory Service (former South African Institute for Medical Research) and at the University of the Witwatersrand.

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Weyer, Jacqueline

Dr.
PhD, MPH

Field/s of Research

Virology, emerging infectious diseases, zoonoses, viral haemorrhagic fevers, rabies, arboviruses

Research Interest

Virology, emerging infectious diseases, zoonoses, viral haemorrhagic fevers, rabies, arboviruses

ORCid Number

000-0001-9471-2890


Dr Jacqueline Weyer is a Principal Medical Scientist at the Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Diseases at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases located in Johannesburg, South Africa. Here she leads a team of scientists tasked with the laboratory investigation (diagnostics and research) of human rabies, viral heamorrhagic fevers and other emerging zoonotic disease of concern to the health of the South African public.

Weyer completed her PhD in Microbiology at the University of Pretoria and was employed as a Research Fellow with the Rabies Unit of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta Georgia from 2004 to 2005. In 2006 she was awarded the L’Oreal-UNESCO, Department of Science and Technology Woman in Science Award: PhD Fellowship for Life Sciences. And in 2018 she was awarded the degree Master of Public Health, cum laude from the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University in South Africa.

In the past 10-years, Weyer has authored and co-authored more than 40 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals, and seven chapters in books, and achieved a National Research Foundation C2 rating in 2017. Jacqueline has been appointed as Extraordinary Lecturer at the University of Pretoria and has been involved in supervision of 14 BSc Hons or MSc research studies, one MPH and four PhD students.

In 2020, she was appointed as Lecturer in the School of Pathology at the University of the Witwatersrand. She serves on several national committees and working groups pertaining to laboratory biosafety and biosecurity, rabies and other zoonoses, One Health. Her interests include the laboratory diagnostics, epidemiology, pathogenesis and host interactions of rabies virus and other zoonotic viral pathogens that cause disease of public health importance in South Africa.

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Wibmer, Kurt

Dr.
PhD, MSc (Med), BSc (Hons)

Field/s of Research

Structural Biology, Protein Engineering, Antibody Discovery

Research Interest

Neglected Tropical Diseases (Snakebite Antivenom), One Health (Horses), Virology (Collaborative

ORCid Number

0000-0003-2329-2280

 

Dr Constantinos Kurt Wibmer is an early-career South African virologist, structural biologist, and protein engineer. He received a PhD from the University of the Witwatersrand, supervised by Professors Lynn Morris and Penny Moore, focusing on understanding HIV-1 escape and the virus-host interplay that results in broadly neutralising antibodies.

Wibmer began training in protein x-ray crystallography with Dr Peter Kwong and Dr Jason Gorman at the Vaccine Research Center (NIH, Bethesda, USA) during a Fogarty traineeship, and further developed these skills as a postdoctoral research associate with Prof Ian Wilson at Scripps Research (La Jolla, USA). He has since solved dozens of unique protein structures, characterising at atomic resolution the interactions between antibodies and their antigens.

At the National Institute for Communicable Diseaes, he leads a research team hosted at the Centre for HIV and STIs that is currently focused on three research areas, namely the development of novel interventions for snakebite (a neglected tropical disease that kills/maims half a million people every year); the discovery of monoclonal antibodies from horses (supporting One Health goals); and offering structural biology support for collaborative research activities (such as SAR-CoV-2/COVID-19). During the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, these data comprised the earliest description of neutralization resistance by variants of concern (VoC).

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Wolter, Nicole

Dr.
PhD

Field/s of Research

Respiratory disease surveillance and epidemiology, Respiratory pathogen diagnostics and genomic surveillance

Research Interest

Respiratory disease and pathogen surveillance for public health

ORCid Number

0000-0002-9526-0133


Dr Nicole Wolter is a Principal Medical Scientist in the Centre for Respiratory Diseases and Meningitis (CRDM) at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in Johannesburg, South Africa. She also holds a joint appointment as a Lecturer within the School of Pathology at the University of Witwatersrand. She received her PhD in Molecular Microbiology in 2007 from the University of Witwatersrand, and an MSc in Epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) in 2019. Dr Wolter is an NRF-rated scientist, and has published more than 70 publications in peer-reviewed journals. In her position at the NICD, she leads a team of scientists in surveillance and research focused on the epidemiology, advanced diagnostics and molecular characterisation of pathogens causing respiratory disease in South Africa. Her research interests include understanding the burden, epidemiology and transmission of respiratory diseases in order to guide public health policy and action.

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Woldesenbet, Selamawit

Dr.
MPH, MSc, PhD

Field/s of Research

HIV, Maternal and Child Health, Health systems

Research Interest

HIV surveillance, Impact evaluation, outcomes research

ORCid Number

0000-0002-5023-3561

 

Dr Selamawit Woldesenbet completed her Master’s degree in Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Columbia University (US), and a PhD in Public Health (major epidemiology) at the University of the Western Cape. She is currently an Epidemiologist at the Centre for HIV & STIs at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in Johannesburg, South Africa. 

Her work focuses on the prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission (PMTCT), paediatrics HIV, and maternal and child health. Her work leverages on large datasets, including surveys and routinely collected programme data to track outcomes of people living with HIV. Woldesenbet has expertise in complex sample survey and longitudinal data analysis methods. She holds an honorary lecturer position at the University of the Witwatersrand’s School of Public Health, where she supervises Master’s students. She has over 12 years of research experience and has authored/co-authored several peer reviewed journal articles including in JAIDS, AIDS, HIV medicine, Scientific Reports, and International Journal of Infectious Diseases. 

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Yousif, Mukhlid

Dr.
BSc, MSc, PhD

Field/s of Research

Virology, molecular, virology, bioinformatics

Research Interest

Virology, molecular, virology, bioinformatics

ORCid Number

0000-0002-8707-2255


Dr Mukhlid Yousif obtained his BSc degree from the University of Khartoum, Sudan in 2002 majoring in microbiology and thereafter his MSc qualification in molecular biology. He worked as a Medical Scientist in one of the most advanced laboratories in Khartoum and has also worked as a Research Assistant at the Institute of Endemic Diseases at the University of Khartoum. Here he received training in molecular biology techniques and leishmania parasites research.

Yousif lectured undergraduate students in microbiology and molecular biology at the Nile College in Khartoum, after which he moved to the United Arab Emirates, working in one of the biggest hospitals in the Department of Molecular Biology.

After this stint he relocated to Johannesburg to pursue his PhD at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), where he joined Professor Anna Kramvis’ laboratory in the field of Hepatitis B Virus research. In 2016, Yousif joined the Centre for HIV and STIs at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases as a Senior Medical Scientist in the HIV drug resistance surveillance programme. After four years he moved to the Centre for Vaccines and Immunology, where he is focusing on the polio eradication programme, measles elimination programme, Hepatitis B and SARS-CoV-2 wastewater surveillance. His research projects include SARS-CoV-2 sequencing from wastewater and serological detection of SARS-CoV-2 in children. Yousif has a keen interest in virology, molecular epidemiology and bioinformatics.

 

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