The Africa Health Research Institute’s Director leads the institute and oversees its scientific programmes. The Director is assisted by a Deputy Director: Science, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer.
Professor Willem Hanekom
Professor Willem Hanekom is a clinician-scientist who trained in medicine and paediatrics in South Africa and in paediatric infectious disease and research immunology in the USA. He is a renowned TB vaccine expert, having directed the South African Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative before leading the TB vaccine group at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Here he developed and implemented the Foundation’s first comprehensive TB vaccine strategy, which resulted in major breakthroughs in TB vaccine discovery and development. Willem has >200 publications and has been awarded competitive funding by most prominent agencies. He is the previous chair of both the South African Immunology Society and the Federation of African Immunology Societies and is a member of multiple international advisory committees in tuberculosis, vaccinology and translational immunology.
Deputy Director: Science
Professor Thumbi Ndung'u is an eminent HIV scientist who has made important contributions in the field of HIV vaccine and pathogenesis research. His research programme at AHRI is focussed on understanding how HIV and TB persist and replicate in the face of a hostile host immune system – with the goal of aiding the design of a safe, affordable and effective HIV-1 vaccine or effective immune-based therapies. Thumbi has a special interest in capacity building for biomedical research in Africa, primarily through the Sub-Saharan African Network for TB/HIV Research Excellence (SANTHE) programme, based at AHRI. He is a Max Planck Society Group Leader and holds a Professorship at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. In his executive role at AHRI, he assists our Director in leading AHRI’s science agenda and strategy.
Chief Operating Officer
Before joining AHRI in 2018, Raynold Zondo was a Group Executive at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), a position he held for over a decade. Raynold’s initial degree was in Biochemistry and Mathematics. He also holds a BCom degree in Commercial Law, an MSc in Project Management and a Master’s in Biotechnology. Previously with Smith & Nephew Pharmaceuticals as a Regulatory Affairs Manager, Raynold joined the CSIR in 2002 as a Quality Assurance Manager. He was appointed Group Manager: Management Services in 2005 and went on to lead the CSIR’s Shared Services portfolio as a Group Executive from 2007. He is also a former Chairperson of the Board of the South African Quality Institute.
Chief Financial Officer
Dilip Kalyan qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1988. Shortly thereafter, he joined the SA Clothing Industries as a Proactive Accountant where he quickly moved up through the ranks and was appointed Group Financial Director in 1997; a position which he held for 11 years. He was then headhunted to join a startup multi-national engineering company where he was appointed Financial Director responsible for group financial responsibilities. Dilip describes himself as results driven; a strong motivator with good business acumen. At AHRI he is responsible for financial planning, financial record keeping, financial reporting, and the management of financial risks.
Board of Directors
AHRI is governed by a Board of Directors composed of outstanding scientific and global health leaders. The Board meets twice a year and is tasked with reviewing and authorising major institute decisions. Professor Peter Piot currently serves as the Board’s chairman.
Board of Directors
Professor Peter Piot is the Director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and is a Professor of Global Health. He was the founding Executive Director of UNAIDS and Under Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1995 until 2008, and was an Associate Director of the Global Programme on Aids of the WHO. Under his leadership UNAIDS became the chief advocate for worldwide action against Aids. Prof Piot has a medical degree from the University of Ghent and holds a PhD in Microbiology from the University of Antwerp. His main research areas have been on clinical, microbiological, epidemiological, and public health aspects of haemorrhagic fevers, sexually transmitted diseases, Aids, tuberculosis, and women’s health in Africa, and, more recently, on policy and politics related to Aids, Ebola and global health.
Ms Faith Kobo is an accomplished South African risk management professional with over 18 years of industry experience in corporate governance, risk management and compliance. She has substantial experience in public sector risk management and has worked in the office of the Accountant-General at National Treasury. She is an associate member of the Institute of Risk Management South Africa and founding CEO of Kobzit Consulting (Pty) Ltd. Ms Kobo is a certified Sangoma and Traditional Medicine Practitioner. She is also pursuing a degree in African Traditional Medicine at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
As Head of International Operations and Partnerships at Wellcome Trust, Dr Simon Kay leads Wellcome's efforts to build biomedical and health research capacity in Africa and India. Dr Kay has expertise in charitable and not for profit international governance arrangements, and in capacity building in Lower and Middle Income Countries. He is also a Governor at Ardingly College in West Sussex, a Trustee of the Malaria Consortium, a Director of the Africa Research Consortium for Health (ARCH) in Kenya and a member of the Partners' Group which provides governance oversight to the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA).
Professor Carol Gross is a Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, and Cell and Tissue Biology at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF). She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology. Prof Gross studies bacterial gene control and gene circuits.
Getty Simelane serves as a non-executive director on several public and private sector companies. She has over 20 years’ experience in human resources in various industries at executive level. She is registered as a Master Human Resources Practitioner (Generalist) and HR Auditor with the South African Board for People Practices. She is a Fellowship Member of the Institute of Directors in Southern Africa and an accredited Sirdar Governance Panelist.
From August 2015, Professor David Lomas has served as the Vice-Provost (Health) at University College London. Previously, he was Dean of UCL Medical Sciences and Chair of Medicine, a position he held since the start of 2013. An outstanding clinician scientist, Prof Lomas was also a Professor of Respiratory Biology in the University of Cambridge and Honorary Consultant Physician at Addenbrooke’s and Papworth Hospitals, and Deputy Director of the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research.
Professor Deresh Ramjugernath is the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN). He is also a Professor of Chemical Engineering and the Co-Director of the Thermodynamics Research Unit at UKZN. Prof Ramjugernath is a member of the Academy of Sciences of South Africa, a Fellow of the South African Academy of Engineers, a Fellow of the African Academy of Science, as well as a Fellow of UKZN.
Professor Nelson Sewankambo is a Professor of Internal Medicine and former principal of Makerere University College of Health Sciences, an external member of US National Academy of Medicine, a Fellow of African Academy of Sciences, and TWAS. Prof Sewankambo was among the first scientists to publish data on Aids in Africa and is a researcher of the Rakai Health Sciences program, founded 30 years ago. He has served on numerous local and international advisory committees and Boards. These include the Working Party on the Ethics of Clinical Research in Developing Countries of the Nuffield Council for Bioethics, the Joint Learning Initiative, the WHO African Advisory Committee on Health and Research Development, and the Board of the International Clinical Epidemiology Network.
Professor Lana Weldon is the Head of the Auditing Department at Fort Hare University. She qualified as a Chartered Accountant (SA) in 1997 and moved into academia, where she has lectured in management, financial management and auditing to a postgraduate level at the University of Fort Hare (previously Rhodes University, East London). Prof Weldon was a founder member of OHS Business Advisors and Chartered Accountants and a partner there for eight years. She has also served as an Independent Non-Executive Director for several companies over the past decade and is a Chartered Director (South Africa). She has extensive experience in both the private and public sectors, with particular expertise in audit, training and quality assurance.
Dr McLean Sibanda is currently Managing Director: Bigen Global Limited (Mauritius), a leading multinational infrastructure solutions provider in a variety of sectors. Before that he led The Innovation Hub as CEO for seven and half years. Dr Sibanda is an engineer by first training but also a qualified patent attorney and attorney. He practiced with one of the leading intellectual property (IP) firms in South Africa, before co-founding Sibanda & Zantwijk attorneys where he was a Partner until February 2019. He has a wealth of experience in the fields of IP, investment management, innovation, business planning and start-up industries. He has worked in senior and executive-level roles in the private and public sectors in South Africa, and has served on numerous Board Committees and Boards.
Scientific Advisory Board
AHRI’s Scientific Advisory Board, chaired by Prof. Janet Darbyshire, is composed largely of international experts in HIV and TB research. It meets semi-annually to advise the Director and the science programmes at AHRI.
Scientific Advisory Board
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.
Professor Gavin Churchyard is a specialist physician, internationally-renowned for his contributions in tuberculosis. He is the founder and CEO of The Aurum Institute NPC, an independent, not for profit South African public benefit organisation that focuses on TB and HIV service delivery, management and research. He is an Honorary Professor at the University of Witwatersrand, School of Public Health and an Honorary Professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical medicine. Prof Churchyard is the principal investigator on a number of TB trials being conducted in South Africa. He has contributed to industry, national and international guidelines for TB and HIV, and has published widely in the areas of TB and HIV treatment and prevention.
Professor Stewart T. Cole is President of the Institut Pasteur in Paris, France. Prior to this appointment he was the Director of the Global Health Institute. He is an international authority in bacterial genetics and genomics. He was a key member of the team that uncovered the complete DNA sequence of the Aids virus, HIV 1, and of the bacteria that cause TB, among many other important findings. Among the most highly cited TB researchers, Prof Cole is currently leading an international project to discover new drugs to treat TB. He is the recipient of many international awards, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society.
Professor Wafaa El-Sadr is Professor of Epidemiology and Medicine at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health and College of Physicians and Surgeons. She is also the founder and director of the International Centre for Aids Care and Treatment (ICAP) at Columbia University and Director of the Global Health Initiative at the Mailman School of Public Health. Through ICAP, large scale programmes have been established in 20 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia that integrate research, education, training and practice with a focus on HIV, related conditions and health system strengthening to enable response to diverse health threats. Prof El-Sadr is also a recognised researcher in the areas of prevention and management of HIV and tuberculosis as well as in implementation research seeking the identification of effective methods to implement and scale-up interventions through rigorous research.
Professor Malim is Head of the School of Immunology & Microbial Sciences at King’s College London, and Director of the UK Medical Research Council (MRC) Doctoral Training Partnership in Biomedical Sciences. Prof Malim received an Elizabeth Glaser Paediatric AIDS Foundation Scientist Award in 2001 and was awarded the 2010 M Jeang Retrovirology Prize. He was elected as a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2003, as a Member of the European Molecular Biology Organisation in 2005, and as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2007. He is Vice President Elect (Non-Clinical) of the Academy of Medical Sciences. Prof Malim has served on many grant and fellowship review panels, including at the National Institutes of Health, the American Foundation for AIDS Research, the UK MRC, and the Wellcome Trust. He is a Section Editor for the Open Access journal PLoS Pathogens, and an Editor for Virology.
Until recently Dr Gilla Kaplan led the team that works to accelerate the reduction of TB incidence globally at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Before this, she was a professor of medicine and associate director at the Public Health Research Institute Centre of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. She is an authority on the host cellular immune response to mycobacterial infections. Dr Kaplan is the recipient of multiple grants from the NIH-NIAID and other foundations for her research.