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Centre Staff

Fatima Abrahams
Ms Fatima Abrahams
Laboratory Manager

Fatima Abrahams joined CIDRI-Africa as Laboratory Manager in mid-2019. After completing an MSC in Genetics at Stellenbosch University, she held the position of research technician at CPUT. She then joined the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) as a research assistant in HIV and malaria research. Following that, she was the Laboratory Manager in Medical Virology at UCT for 5 years. During that time she worked on vaccine development for HIV and veterinary vaccines.

Jon Ambler
Dr Jon Ambler
Bioinformatician - Data Integration Platform

Having previously worked on the sequencing of fungal genomes and the use of NGS technologies to understand the complex underpinnings of pathogenicity in Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Jon now provides bioinformatics support to CIDRI-Africa. This work requires the integration of multiple large -omics datasets to form a coherent and complete picture of the cellular processes involved in pathogenicity. Through the use of existing tools, the creation of new tools, and a deep understanding of the underlying biology behind these interactions, we hope to unravel this complex network of interactions and retrieve insights that may be used to combat disease.

Jon's role also includes providing training for researchers and students, empowering them with new skills and further developing the capacity for bioinformatics at the facility.

Zandile Ciko
Ms Zandile Ciko
Public Engagement Co-ordinator

Zandile Ciko joined CIDRI-Africa as Public Engagement Coordinator (Manager) in March 2018. She has a background in Community Development and extensive experience as a project coordinator for social development initiatives.

Before joining CIDRI-Africa, Zandile worked at the City of Cape Town’s Social Development and Early Childhood Development (SDECD) Directorate for several years where she coordinated projects in community development, working with street people and youth throughout the city and later focusing on Khayelitsha. She joined the Khayelitsha CRS at the eKhayaVac clinic, as a Community Liaison Officer in August 2016 focusing community engagement for the HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN) clinical trials. She has been instrumental in developing and implementing the Khayelitsha CRS community engagement and marketing strategy.

Zandile holds a BSocSci in Social Development from the University of Cape Town and is currently studying towards a qualification in Public Policy and Management at UCT.

Rene Goliath
Ms Rene Goliath
Clinical Projects Co-ordinator

Rene Goliath currently fills the role of research clinical site coordinator; she is a qualified nurse with diplomas in general nursing, midwifery, paediatrics, nursing administration, and nursing education. She completed a BSc Hons in 1999 at the University of Manchester, and joined clinical research in 2000. Over the last 17 years she has held the roles of field worker, research nurse, data-capturer, and study coordinator. She also supports regulatory affairs, clinical and staff management.

Yolande Harley
Dr Yolande Harley
Faculty of Health Sciences Research Enterprise Manager
(part time)

Yolande Harley is the Research Enterprise Manager of the University of Cape Town's (UCT's) Faculty of Health Sciences. She manages initiatives to advance health research, develop partnerships, and source major funding. In addition, she provides strategic management for the Wellcome Centre for Infectious Diseases Research in Africa (CIDRI-Africa), offering executive oversight and coordination of initiatives to further science, foster collaborations and raise funds. Before joining UCT she was Deputy Director of Research for Action Medical Research, a charitable funder in the UK, and a Medical Writer at Envision Pharma (also UK). She obtained her PhD in Exercise Physiology from UCT, with a fellowship period at the University of California at Berkeley (USA). Since 2005 she has focused on strategic advancement of research, including major proposal development, research management, science communications, evaluation and impact reporting, research advocacy and network building. Her work has spanned academia, industry and the NGO sector, and she engages regularly with research stakeholders across six continents (focussing on Africa, Europe and the USA).

Amanda Jackson
Ms Amanda Jackson
Data Systems Manager

Amanda Jackson is the Data Systems Manager at CIDRI-Africa. She develops data management systems for a range of health-related research studies using RedCap, OpenClinica, FileMaker and MS Access, primarily. She co-ordinates the data unit, which is based at UCT and Ubuntu clinic in Khayelitsha, and develops and oversees data entry, processing and validation functions within the unit. She also provides data analysis support to researchers in the CIDRI-Africa. Amanda was previously a Data Manager in the Malaria Research Institute at the Medical Research Council, South Africa, where she was involved in the development of malaria information systems, survey data analysis and web-based spatial decision support systems.

Sonya Koekemoer
Ms Sonya Koekemoer

Sonya Koekemoer joined CIDRI-Africa and the Clinical Research Centre in March 2018 as a research pharmacist. She is a Rhodes University graduate, having obtained a BPharm in 2014 and MSc(Pharm) in 2016. Her MSc investigated the development, validation and application of a gradient high-performance liquid chromatographic method for analysis of antiretrovirals. She has a keen interest in research having been exposed to clinical trials as a post graduate at the Biopharmaceutics Research Institute at Rhodes University. Sonya has worked as a hospital pharmacist for two years in the Eastern Cape where she was able to participate in a well-established MDR TB outreach programme.

Olina Ngwenya
Ms Olina Ngwenya
Data Analyst

Olina holds a BSc Honours degree in Applied Mathematics from the National University of Science and Technology (NUST, Bulawayo, 2007), an MSc Statistics (UKZN, 2011) and an MSc in Biostatistics (Hasselt Universiteit, Belgium, 2014). Before joining CIDRI-Africa, she worked as a statistics lecturer at the University of Swaziland. She has also held positions as a data analyst, research tutor and biometrician.

Erika Morey
Mrs Erika Morey
Administrative Assistant

Erika Morey is the CIDRI-Africa Administrative Assistant. She provides general assistance to visitors and colleagues in the office and takes care of administrative tasks, human resource, procurement and financial reimbursement processes, IT queries, and filing.

Nashreen Omar-Davies
Ms Nashreen Omar-Davies

Nashreen qualified as a Diagnostic Radiographer at Groote Schuur hospital in 1990, and also holds a certificate in Ultrasound Obstetrics and Gynaecology. She was initially employed as a radiographer at New Somerset Hospital. After 16 years, she resigned to care for her family. During this time she held a few locum positions at Red Cross Children’s hospital and Maitland Cottage home.

In 2012 she joined the CIDRI group as the diagnostic radiographer. She generates digital x-ray images as one of the screening tools for diagnosis of TB. In addition to her radiography duties she also oversees clinical logistics, assists with administrative duties, and facilitates the booking process for any study-related procedures at other institutions.

Claire Whitaker
Dr Claire Whitaker
Communications Manager

Claire joined CIDRI-Africa as Communications Manager in March 2018. She has a background in biological research and extensive experience as a project officer and science communicator.

Before joining CIDRI-Africa, Claire worked at the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) for several years, in the HIV Prevention Research Unit as a Science Writer, and then at the Cancer Research Initiative of South Africa (SAMRC/CANSA), where she managed the grant application, review and assessment process, as well as producing and managing social media and website content. She joined the SAMRC Grants and Scholarships Administration Division as Scientific Review Officer and Science Communicator, and continued similar work in positions in the Africa Office of the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership.

Claire holds a PhD in Biology from the University of KwaZulu-Natal on the seed biology and pathology of Welwitschia mirabilis, the national plant of Namibia.

Kathryn Wood
Ms Kathryn Wood
Centre Operations Manager

After 25 years of medical laboratory experience, Kathryn moved into research administration as the Initiative Manager of the Clinical Infectious Diseases Research initiative (CIDRI) in December 2008. After the success of the Initiative grant which resulted in the completion of 38 CIDRI and Carnegie Foundation doctorates and postdoctoral fellowships in the field of Infectious Diseases, she was appointed as the Operations Manager for the Wellcome Centre for Infectious Diseases Research in Africa, in March 2017. The main responsibilities are to centrally coordinate the activities of the Centre, to support the Director and advise and support the Platform leads and the Steering Committee regarding Centre activities and procedures. Her portfolio within the Centre includes the daily financial management, human resources management, organization of meetings, events and conferences, post graduate student support, general office management and line management of the administrative assistant, the laboratory manager and the communications manager.