Scientific Advisory Committee
AHRI’s Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC), chaired by Prof Koleka Mlisana, reviews AHRI’s science and its impact, providing feedback and direction to the institute’s executive committee. The SAC is comprised of global experts in AHRI’s research focus areas.
Scientific Advisory Committee
Professor Koleka Mlisana is the executive manager: academic affairs, research & quality assurance at the National Health Laboratory Services (NHLS). A microbiologist by training, she is an honorary professor in medical microbiology at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and served as head of the department of medical microbiology for many years. Prof Mlisana has led seminal HIV clinical trials as well as research into acute HIV infection. Her research interests also include TB diagnostics, drug resistance, as well as sexually transmitted infections. Prof Mlisana serves on the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Antimicrobial Resistance and is a member of the Board of Trustees for the South African National Aids Council.
Professor Bruce Walker is a world leader in the study of immune control and evasion in HIV infection. He is the founding director of the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, professor of practice at MIT, professor of medicine at UKZN’s Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. In addition to his clinical duties as an infectious disease specialist, his research focuses on cellular immune responses in chronic human viral infections, with a particular focus on HIV immunology and vaccine development. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, as well as an elected fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Professor Nana Poku is the vice-chancellor and principal of the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN). He holds a PhD in international political economy and has a distinguished career in research on the political economy of health and HIV and Aids in sub-Saharan Africa as well as substantial managerial experience in international organisations. Since 2007, he has been senior advisor on HIV and Aids policies within poverty reduction strategy papers for the governments of Botswana, Ghana, Mozambique, Malawi, Namibia, Kenya and Zambia, and over the past two decades has worked in a senior capacity with the World Health Organisation, World Bank, United Nations Development Programme, UNAIDS, International Labour Organisation, European Union, African Union, African Development Bank, Southern African Development Community, and various national development agencies.
Salim Abdool Karim
Professor Salim Abdool Karim is a South African clinical infectious diseases epidemiologist widely recognised for his scientific and leadership contributions in Aids and Covid-19. He is director of the Centre for the Aids Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA), and CAPRISA professor of global health at Columbia University. He holds adjunct professorships at Harvard University and Cornell University. He is the pro vice-chancellor (research) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He is a member of the science council of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the WHO TB-HIV task force. He is a vice-president of the International Science Council, and a member of the Africa Task Force for Coronavirus, the African Union Commission on Covid-19, and the Lancet Commission on Covid-19. He is a member of the US National Academy of Medicine and is a fellow of the Royal Society.
Professor Ria Reis is a senior fellow at the Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development, professor emeritus of medical anthropology at Leiden University Medical Center, associate professor of anthropology at the University of Amsterdam, honorary professor at the Children’s Institute of the University of Cape Town and a fellow at the African Studies Centre Leiden (ASCL) community. Her work articulates anthropological research within multidisciplinary health research and interventions, particularly in collaborative projects with partners in policy and practice. She has a particular interest in youth mental health and cultural idioms of distress as expressions of communal social suffering in regions affected by epidemics, disasters, conflicts, and violence.
Professor Ntobeko Ntusi is a cardiologist, professor of medicine, and the chair and head of medicine at the University of Cape Town (UCT) and Groote Schuur Hospital (GSH). He is the clinical lead for cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) at UCT and GSH. He is a principal investigator based at the Cape Heart Institute and the Cape Universities Body Imaging Centre. Professor Ntusi has been actively engaged and contributed to an improved understanding of cardiomyopathy, inflammatory heart disease, and heart failure in South Africa and globally. He is an active member of the Council of Physicians of South Africa and is a member of the Senate of the Colleges of Medicine of South Africa.
Professor Refilwe Phaswana-Mafuya is professor of epidemiology and public health at the University of Johannesburg, and director of the SAMRC / UJ Pan African Centre for Epidemics Research (PACER) Research Unit. Prof Phaswana-Mafuya’s work to better understand the epidemiology of HIV in South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa has spanned two decades. She is a previous deputy vice-chancellor for research and innovation at the North-West University, and held senior leadership positions at the HIV/Aids/STI/TB research programme of the Human Sciences Research Council for 13 years. She is an NRF rated scientist, fellow of the Academy of Science of South Africa, African Academy of Sciences, and Organisation for Women in Science for the Developing World.
Dr Robert Seder is chief of the cellular immunology section in the Vaccine Research Centre in the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health. Dr Seder’s laboratory focuses on the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which vaccines and adjuvants mediate protective immunity in mouse, and non-human primate models of HIV, malaria, tuberculosis and cancer. He led the first in-human clinical studies using intravenous vaccination to generate protective immunity with an attenuated malaria vaccine, showing that a monoclonal antibody he discovered can prevent malaria infection.
Professor Janet Darbyshire has had and continues to have an outstanding career in epidemiology. Her work has had a major impact on world health, starting with her involvement and design of clinical trials in the epidemiology, effect of treatment and prophylaxis in tuberculosis, particularly in Africa. Since her appointment as Director of the UK MRC Clinical Trials Unit and in her position of Professor of Epidemiology at UCL, she has taken the lead in working with the National Cancer Research Network in applying clinical trials for the improvement of cancer management in the UK.