Contributing Investigators: Platform Academics
Dr Parihar is an immunologist with interest in host-pathogen interactions during infectious diseases, particularly tuberculosis and listeriosis. His research focuses on host-directed therapies as alternative and innovative strategies. He aims to identify and validate new drug targets against tuberculosis, using repurposed drugs and chemical activators/inhibitors, as well as by gene knockdown in human/mouse macrophages and gene-deficient murine models. He studies macrophage intrinsic killing functions against M. tuberculosis and L. monocytogenes for mechanistic insights since these pathogens manipulate host cell machinery to survive within cells. He aims to increase the fundamental knowledge of macrophage infection biology by combining experimental models and infected patient materials. For that, he combines diverse tools such as deep-CAGE transcriptomics, metabolomics, systems biology, flow cytometry and confocal microscopy. Suraj was awarded ICGEB, Claude Leon Foundation, CIDRI, and Global Health Innovative Technology (GHIT) Fund-Japan funding during his post-doctoral tenure.
Associate Professor Tiffin started her research career in molecular genetics at UCT, followed by a PhD in molecular oncology at the University of London and a postdoctoral fellowship in endocrinology research at UCSF. She continued in medical genomics and bioinformatics, and was a Principal Investigator at the South African National Bioinformatics Institute focusing on computational approaches to disease gene identification and the genetics of disease in African populations—developing computational approaches to prioritising candidate aetiological genes from the output of genome-wide analyses; as well as undertaking exome sequencing projects to identify rare aetiological variants in families with inherited diseases. During this time Nicki also addressed ethical issues relating to genome studies undertaken in African populations. She has completed a Masters in Public Health (Epidemiology), and worked at the Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Research (CIDER), contributing to the development of the Provincial Health Data Centre.
Dr Sean Wasserman completed his medical degree as well as post-graduate training at the University of Cape Town. He is a Fellow of the College of Physicians and Infectious Diseases at the Colleges of Medicine of South Africa. Dr Wasserman is a Consultant and Associate Professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases and HIV Medicine at Groote Schuur Hospital and the University of Cape Town. He is a Contributing Investigator at CIDRI-Africa, where his two main research areas are new and repurposed drugs for tuberculosis (TB), with a focus on pharmacokinetics (PK) and resistance, and novel regimens and PK in TB meningitis. Other interests include HIV-associated Pneumocystis pneumonia, Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia, and antibiotic stewardship. Sean is a member of the original cohort of the International Society for Infectious Diseases (ISID) Emerging Leaders Program and has recently been elected onto the ISID Council. He was awarded the TB Union’s Stephen Lawn TB-HIV Research Leadership Prize for 2019, as well as the Institut Mérieux and Infectious Diseases Society of Southern Africa Young Investigator Award for research in antibiotic stewardship.
HIV, cellular immunology, HIV/TB co-infection, vaccines, mucosal immunology
Paediatric HIV and TB research
Haem detoxification pathway in Plasmodium falciparum, effects of antimalarials on this pathway; interactions of antimalarials with haem in solution and the solid state
Host-directed drug therapy of TB, murine studies of other intracellular pathogens such as leishmaniasis and listeriosis
Host immune responses to disease, with a particular focus on HIV-related fungal infections and M. tuberculosis
Paediatric infectious diseases, HIV, vaccine immunogenicity, infant feeding, adolescent mucosal immunology, mucosal microbiome
Supervised learning as related to cytokine and other biomarker assay profiles, particularly in TB disease progression and Bayesian mixture models for longitudinal HIV viral load data
Host factors driving immunopathogenesis during TB progression using molecular histology techniques; mycobacterial genes for host survival
Systems/synthetic biology approaches to visualise the expression of host immune genes concurrent with bacterial infection
Infectious diseases (HIV/AIDS, TB and sexually transmitted infections); women’s health; social determinants of health
Health services research, particularly in the context of co-morbidities between common infectious and non-communicable diseases
HIV/HPV mucosal immunology, genital tract, innate immunity, cytokine biomarkers, genital tract immune activation
Translational research in the diagnosis and prevention of tuberculosis in vulnerable populations; digital health innovation for HIV/TB care
Infectious diseases (HIV/TB), immune memory, antigen-specific responses, T cell differentiation, cytokines, signal transduction and T cell lineage commitment
Host-pathogen interactions of Kaposi’s sarcoma herpesvirus (KSHV) and human papillomavirus (HPV), particularly in the context of HIV co-infection
HIV and TB; understanding reasons for resistance to TB infection in individuals with sustained exposure to TB but who remain uninfected
T cell Immunology, human TB, HIV, TB-IRIS
HIV vaccine development especially via the development of live poxvirus vectors
Large-scale interventions against, and understanding the transmission of, TB & HIV