Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI) is pleased to announce the appointment of the new chairperson of its board of directors, Professor Tshilidzi Marwala. Prof Marwala, whose appointment is effective from January 2022, takes over from Professor Peter Piot, whose term ended in December 2021.

Prof Marwala is the vice-chancellor and principal of the University of Johannesburg (UJ). He is a registered professional engineer and holds a PhD specialising in artificial intelligence (AI) and engineering from the University of Cambridge. He has published 15 books on AI, and over 300 papers in journals, proceedings, book chapters and magazines. He additionally holds five patents. He is a fellow of The World Academy of Sciences, the Academy of Science of South Africa, the African Academy of Sciences, and the South African Academy of Engineering. He is a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering and a distinguished member of the Association for Computing Machinery. Prof Marwala has received more than 45 awards, including the Order of Mapungubwe. He is a public intellectual and thought leader and writes and engages on a broad range of topics including the fourth industrial revolution, AI, and their applications to healthcare.

“Prof Marwala brings with him a wealth of diverse expertise and leadership experience, and as AHRI it is a great privilege to have someone of his calibre and integrity to guide our board,” said AHRI executive director, Prof Willem Hanekom. “We are looking forward to working with him to further AHRI’s mission of transdisciplinary scientific research to understand and intervene in the health and well-being of under-resourced South African communities.”

“I am honoured to be joining AHRI, particularly at a time when globally we are all seized by the urgency of health and science research alongside the overpowering need for equity and equality in this sphere. The ongoing pandemic has demonstrated the dire consequences of inequitable health provision at every juncture,” said Prof Marwala. “Through its cutting-edge research, AHRI is uniquely poised to have a real impact in improving the health and wellbeing of people, not only on the continent but globally. I appreciate the opportunity to help shape this journey.”