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Faculty of Health Sciences

Department of Medicine

Research Committee Membership

All the members of the Department Research committee are happy to be contacted by any affiliated student or faculty members. Brief biosketches indicate research background and current interests.

Current Chair

Jonny Peter is the first adult allergologist in South Africa registered with the HPCSA and is Head of the Division of Allergology and Clinical Immunology at Groote Schuur Hospital, University of Cape Town and the Allergy and Immunology unit, UCT Lung Institute.

He is the recipient of several awards for both undergraduate and postgraduate medical training. His PhD studies were fully funded by several grants including a Discovery Academic Fellowship, a NIH Fogarty International Clinical Fellowship and a Carnegie Academic Fellowship. He completed his PhD under the mentorship of Professor Keertan Dheda in the Lung Infection and Immunity Unit, University of Cape Town. He was the recipient of the Oxford Nuffield Medical Fellowship in 2012, and completed a combined clinical and laboratory TB immunology at the John Radcliffe Hospital and Jenner Institute under the supervision of Professor Helen McShane.

He has over 80 peer-reviewed publications including first author publications in journals such as the Lancet (IF=39.2), Lancet Respiratory Medicine (IF=9.6) and infectious diseases (IF=19.9), JACI in practice (IF=6.9), AJRCCM (IF=10.8), and ERJ (IF=5.5). He has an H-index of 29. His current clinical and research interests include i) the mechanisms of immune mediated drug reactions in HIV TB endemic settings; ii) immunodeficiency diseases including hereditary angioedema and primary genetic susceptibility to invasive fungal disease; iii) chronic spontaneous urticaria; and iv) the anti-allergic properties of endemic South African plants.

 

Current Members 

Prof Ikechi Okpechi is a nephrologist at Groote Schuur Hospital and the Director of the Kidney and Hypertension Research Unit, University of Cape Town. His research interests are broad but with focus on improving kidney diseases outcomes in Africans. He is widely published, has supervised and mentored several post-graduate students and editorial board member for African Journal of Nephrology (AJN), Nephrology (Carlton), American Journal of Kidney Diseases (AJKD) and Medicine (Wolters Kluwer). He is also an executive member of KDIGO.

Dr Marc Combrinck, MBChB, BSc(Med)(Hons), PhD, FCP(SA)(Neurol), MRCP(UK), DTM&H, is a consultant neurologist and head of the Division of Geriatric Medicine at Groote Schuur Hospital (GSH) and the University of Cape Town (UCT).  He trained in medicine, biochemistry and neurology at GSH and UCT.  He was a research fellow at the University of Oxford from 1997 to 2004. He worked for the Oxford Project To Investigate Memory and Ageing (OPTIMA) at the Radcliffe Infirmary and studied the role of inflammation in neurodegenerative diseases in the laboratory of Hugh Perry in Southampton. He returned to Cape Town in 2004.  Between 2008 and 2013 he held a National Research Foundation (NRF) Research Chair in clinical neurosciences at UCT.

Peter Raubenheimer is the Head of the Division of General Internal Medicine at Groote Schuur Hospital and UCT  and the Convenor of the registrar’s training programme (and MMed) for General Internal Medicine in the Department of Medicine.

He represents the Dept on the Professional Masters Committee (PMC) at UCT.

Sandrine Lecour trained as a Doctor in Pharmacy at the University of Burgundy, France (1995) and obtained a PhD in Cardiovascular Physiology (2000) under the supervision of Prof Luc Rochette.

She is a Professor at the University of Cape Town, Leader of the Cardioprotection group at the Hatter Institute for Cardiovascular Research in Africa, University of Cape Town, South africa and co-Director of the Lionel Opie Preclinical Imaging (LOPI) Core Facility in South Africa.

Her research group focuses on the delineation of novel cardioprotective signaling pathways, including high density lipoproteins, sphingolipids and melatonin. Over the past few years, part of her research has focussed on the discovery of the Survivor Activating Factor Enhancement (SAFE) pathway.

B rated NRF researcher, she has published over 100 papers in peer-reviewed journals (H index = 34).

Dr Mark E. Engel was born in Cape Town, South Africa, holds a BSc (MED) Hons [Human Genetics], an MPH [Epidemiology and Biostatistics] and a PhD [Medicine] which he obtained in 2013, all from the University of Cape Town (UCT).

Appointed as associated professor in 2016, Dr Engel’s research includes all aspects of rheumatic heart disease (RHD), employing a wide range of investigative approaches in efforts to improve the understanding of this poverty-related heart disease.  His research experience spans epidemiology and population-based research, establishing registries and biorepositories, clinical sciences, health systems and policy and, molecular research (including Group A Streptococcus, the organism involved in RHD development).

Dr Engel regularly lectures undergraduate and postgraduate students in epidemiology and research methods including evidence-based healthcare and, has supervised a number of masters and doctoral dissertations. 

I am a clinical pharmacologist and HIV physician who has been working with HIV-infected patients in clinical trials and observational cohorts since 1997. l head the successful Desmond Tutu HIV Centre (DTHC) Treatment Division through leadership of the Groote Schuur Clinical Research Site (GSH-CRS), the DTHC Clinical Trials Unit and the DTHC Gugulethu Research Offices. I have been principal and co-investigator on more than 25 clinical trials of antiretroviral drugs and vaccines, including a range of efficacy, toxicity and dosing studies, both pharmaceutical and investigator-driven. My particular interests are in HIV pharmacology, adherence/retention in care and resistance to ART and I have an extensive publication record in these fields.

I have in-depth experience of conducting research in both state-of-the-art research facilities at the University of Cape Town, including the CRS which is a HPTN and HVTN-affiliated site, as well as in primary health care clinic environments, such as the GRO, where the research focuses on novel methods to improve adherence in a resource poor-setting, including through the use of electronic pillboxes and therapeutic drug monitoring using dried blood spots. My prior adherence work has contributed to policy in the Western Cape and nationally, as well as to international guidelines.

Dr Phumla Sinxadi is a consultant and Senior Lecturer in the Division of Clinical Pharmacology, Department of Medicine at the University of Cape Town (UCT). She received a number of awards for her postgraduate training including the Discovery Foundation and CIDRI awards, which allowed her an opportunity to spend time at Vanderbilt University with Professor David Haas, an expert in pharmacogenomics. She won the 2013/14 South African Society for Basic and Clinical Pharmacology Best Publication (Clinical) for the paper entitled Mitochondrial Genomics and Antiretroviral Therapy-Associated Metabolic Complications in HIV-Infected Black South Africans: A Pilot Study (published in the  July 2013 issue of AIDS Res and Human Retroviruses); and the 2015 British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology Prize for the best paper published by a trainee: the paper Africa (published in the July 2015 issue of BJCP). She was the lead investigator the First-in-Man clinical trial investigating the safety, tolerability and pharmacokinetics of MMV390048, a novel antimalarial drug discovered at UCT in collaboration with Medicines for Malaria Venture and the Department of Science and Technology. In 2016, she was awarded an WHO/TDR Career Development Fellowship and spent a year at the Diseases of the Developing World unit, a Research and Development department at GlaxoSmithKline in London. Currently, her research is funded by the Medical Research Council and the National Research Foundation’s Thuthuka grants. Her main research interests include i) pharmacokinetics and pharmacogenomics of antiretroviral drugs; ii) gene-gene interactions between antiretroviral and antituberculous drugs, iii) drug development.

Dr Calligaro finished his undergraduate medical training at the University of the Witwatersrand in 2001, and qualified as a specialist physician in 2009 and a respiratory specialist in 2012 at the University of Cape Town (UCT). His current positions are consultant in the Department of Medicine, and in the Respiratory Clinic at Groote Schuur Hospital, and senior lecturer and research coordinator at the Centre for Lung Infection and Immunity at the UCT Lung Institute. He is completing a PhD examining lung health in patients with HIV infection on antiretroviral treatment.

He has also helped to establish extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) at Groote Schuur Hospital, and is the medical lead of the first lung transplant centre in an academic hospital in South Africa. In 2016, he completed a Fellowship in thoracic transplantation at St. Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney. His clinical work focuses on cystic fibrosis, exercise physiology in health and disease, pulmonary hypertension, and advanced chronic lung disease, particularly where lung transplantation is being considered. His research interests and publications are in the field of HIV-related lung disease, active case finding and novel diagnostics for TB, the medical and surgical management of drug-sensitive and drug-resistant TB, and rejection in lung transplantation.

Stella-Alet Botha studied medicine at the University of Stellenbosch were she graduated in 1999. She moved to the Netherlands in 2001 where she acquired her PhD degree in 2007 on the thesis “Assessment and determinants of disease progression in osteoarthritis at multiple sites.” (supervisors: Prof. Dr Ferdinand Breedveld and Prof. Dr Frits Rosendaal, Department of Rheumatology and Clinical Epidemiology at the Leiden University Medical Center). This was followed by specialization in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology (qualification in 2013) at the Leiden University Medical Center.

Since she returned to South-Africa in 2014, she is working as a consultant in the Department of Medicine and in the Division of Rheumatology of Groote Schuur Hospital/University of Cape Town.

Her current research interest is the assessment and treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), with a focus on comorbidities in RA. She is the principle investigator of the Meteor study at Groote Schuur Hospital: an international prospective observational study using an online application tool to monitor and assess treatment outcomes in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and the Cape Rheumatoid (Early) Arthritis Therapy Evaluation (CREATE) study.

She is married and has 3 daughters