The African Academy of Sciences has awarded AHRI/SANTHE PhD student Lerato Ndlovu a community and public engagement grant to help inspire a new generation of South African scientists. 

Lerato, who has a background in biochemistry and immunology, was one of 13 grantees to be funded through the first African Academy of Sciences (AAS)’s DELTAS Africa Community and Public Engagement (CPE) seed fund after a competitive selection process with 95 applicants.

Lerato’s CPE project ‘Science-2-Society: Raising future leaders’ is aimed at increasing interest and awareness about the work scientists in the HIV and TB field do, and will be based on her work in the lab – which aims to identify easy-to-measure changes in the immune systems of TB patients that indicate the severity of TB infection, and can be used to monitor patient response to drug treatment. The goal of her lab research is to develop an approach for real-time tracking of TB treatment success to improve TB cure rates and aid patient management.

Through her new CPE grant, Lerato hopes to inspire high school learners from a rural area in Estcourt, KwaZulu-Natal, to actively engage with the science community on a regular basis; to expose them to the available scientific careers and make them aware of all the available opportunities when pursuing those careers.

The 13 African Academy of Sciences (AAS)’s DELTAS Africa Community and Public Engagement awardees with representatives of the AAS.

“I’m excited that I was given the opportunity to see my idea through; that I get to go back to the community that I grew up in and give back and play a role in shaping the opinions the youth have about science,” said Lerato. “I’m hoping to not only bring awareness of the kind of work that we do here at Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI) and why we need to do it, but to also pique the interest of motivated students, bring them to the AHRI labs and show them how we answer some of the most important questions in TB and HIV research.”

“This grant is a big step in enabling SANTHE to further engage with communities. The work we do is all about inspiring future African leaders in science. We are really proud of Lerato for the hard work she’s put in and know she’ll do great things with the grant,” said SANTHE Programme Executive Manager Denis Chopera.