Prof. Segun Fatumo is an Associate Professor of Genetic Epidemiology and Bioinformatics at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) in the UK. He is the NCD Genomics and The African Computational Genomics (TACG) Research group at the MRC/UVRI and LSHTM Uganda Research Unit. Prof. Segun Fatumo specialises in genome-wide association studies (GWAS), Polygenic Risk Score Analysis (PRS) and Mendelian Randomisation (MR). He co-led first major GWAS of cardiometabolic traits in Africa and led the first GWAS of Kidney functions in continental African populations. Prof Fatumo is co-director of the KidneyGenAfrica Research Programme - A Partnership to Deliver Research and Training Excellence in Genomics of Kidney Disease in Africa. Prof Fatumo is strongly committed to increasing diversity in genomic studies and was recently awarded the prestigious MRC Impact prize for advocating for inclusion of Africa in genomic research and championing
genetic risk prediction of complex diseases in Africa.
Judith Breuer is Professor of Virology at UCL and Clinical lead for Virology at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children. Her research interests include the development of high throughput pathogen sequencing directly from clinical material for the analysis of pathogen evolution and identification of pathogen genetic determinants of clinical disease including cytomegalovirus in congenital infection. Professor Breuer has worked for many years on varicella zoster virus and its vaccine, elucidating many aspects of VZV natural history and pathogenesis. She led the discovery of the VZV latency transcript (VLT) and is currently funded by the NIH to elucidate the mechanism of the Oka vaccine strain attenutation for replication in skin. Professor Breuer has developed diagnostic metagenomic methods for pathogen discovery in patients with undetected infections of the brain, widening this recently to other samples. Most recently she led a team that identified adeno-associated virus 2 as the likely cause of the outbreak of unexplained paediatric hepatitis that occurred in children in 2022. This work has now been expanded to understanding hepatitis associated with AAV gene therapy. Through her clinical work she has developed a pipeline for the evaluation of new and repurposed drugs, including combinations for treatment of serious viral infections, particularly in immunocompromised individuals. Professor Breuer is a member of the UK MHRA Expert Working Groups on Covid vaccines and COVID therapeutics, the Joint Committee on Vaccines and Immunisation for papillomavirus and varicella zoster virus vaccines. She has recently been invited to join the UK national committee on poliovirus eradication. She chairs the JCVI Definitions of Immunosuppression working group.
Prof. Eric Buch, MBBCh, MSc (Med), FFCH(CM)(SA), DTM&H, DOH, is the Chairperson of the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) Board. He is Professor of Health Policy and Management at the University of Pretoria.
Prof Buch was formerly Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Pretoria, Health Advisor for the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Agency; Deputy Director General for Health Care in Gauteng; Executive Director for Health Housing and Urbanisation of Johannesburg and a Director of the Centre for Health Policy at the University of the Witwatersrand. Also serve as the Director for Colleges of Medicine of South Africa.
He served as General Secretary of the National Progressive Primary Health Care Network and was an active member of the National Medical and Dental Association (NAMDA). He co-founded the Wits Rural Health Services Development Unit in Bushbuckridge.
Prof Buch was a member of the Board of the Global Health Workforce Alliance, Deputy Chair of the Board of the Health Systems Trust and a member of the Minister’s Advisory Committee for the Academy for Leadership and Management in Health. He is the University of Pretoria lead for the Albertina Sisulu Executive Leadership Programme in Health.
Prof Buch is a Fellow of the Faculty of Community Health of the College of Medicine of South Africa. In 2015 he was awarded the Public Health Association of South Africa’s Phila Lifetime Achievement Award.
Professor Christoffels is the director of South African National Bioinformatics Institute based at the University of the Western Cape, and the director of the SA Medical Research Council Bioinformatics Unit. He held the DST/NRF Research Chair in Bioinformatics and Health Genomics from 2009-2022. As of 2021, Dr Christoffels’ has been appointed as the senior advisor to the Africa CDC where he is contributes to pathogen genomics policy development and strategic partnerships.
Over the past 15 years his group has contributed to or led international genome projects. His scientific leadership role on the African continent was recognized in 2015 and awarded the HUGO Africa Prize.
Most of his current funding supports computational tools for analyzing high throughput pathogen genomics data.The software in his group such as COMBAT-TB (http://combattb.org) has been extended to support SARS-COV-2 analyses for national public health institutes in Africa. Professor Christoffels has been part of the team who developed the conceptual framework for H3Africa. He has led open-source biobank software in H3Africa and has leveraged Horizon2020 funding to complete the Baobab Laboratory Information Management System used by biobanks in Africa (http://baobablims.org) as part of the B3Africa consortium. This work has documented approaches to leverage proteomic signatures from tumor achival material. His research feeds into policy advocacy initiatives including Global emerging pathogen treatment consortium (www.getafrica.org), data governance expert panel member for the African Academy of Sciences, and development of a “National Code of Conduct for Research” to adhere to the Protection of Personal Information Act in South Africa.
Professor Koleka Mlisana is the Executive Manager: Academic Affairs, Research & Quality Assurance at the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS), since July 2018. Prior to this she was the HOD: Medical Microbiology at UKZN/IALCH; also served a term as a member of the NHLS Board; and used to be a member of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Antimicrobial Resistance. Her work includes previously being an active HIV/AIDS researcher, for over a decade focussing on HIV prevention and pathogenesis, working at the Centre for the AIDS Program of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA), Durban. She has undertaken seminal research which has revealed how the body responds during acute HIV infection. Her current research interests include TB diagnostics, antimicrobial resistance as well as sexually transmitted infections. Prof Mlisana has co-authored more than 190 peer reviewed journal articles. Amongst other national commitments, Prof Mlisana is the Co-chair of the Covid-19 Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC), she previously chaired the Pathology/Laboratory subcommittee of the first established MAC for Covid-19; up until recently she was a member of the Board of Trustees for the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) as well as the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAF), and she is a member of the Medical and Dental Board of the HPCSA/Medical Scientist Committee. She has nurtured and mentored many young scientists and is passionate about equipping the next generation of leaders and scientists.
Professor Jeffrey Mphahlele (PhD, MASSAf) is the Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation at North-West University since 1 July 2021. He is the past Vice President for Research at the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), the position he occupied from 1 October 2014 to 30 June 2021. Jeffrey is an elected member of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) and a National Research Foundation C1 rated researcher.
Prior joining the SAMRC, he was a full-time academic at Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University (formerly MEDUNSA) in Pretoria where he served for over 20 years in various capacities: Professor and Academic Chair of the Department of Virology and National Health Laboratory Service (2005 to Sep 2014); Co-Director of the SAMRC/Diarrhoeal Pathogens Research Unit, which is a WHO Rotavirus Regional Reference Laboratory for Africa (2010 to March 2018) and Head of the South African Vaccination and Immunisation Centre (SAVIC) (2005 to 2014). Jeffrey’s research interests include epidemiology of HIV, genomics of infectious diseases, vaccination control of infectious diseases (hepatitis B, rotavirus and human papillomaviruses) and strengthening immunisation services and policies. He trained, supervised and mentored several PhD and Master students as contribution to developing the next generation of scientists. He serves or served on number of governance and advisory structures and committees including the General Assembly of the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP), Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness (GloPID-R), South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA), WHO Scientific Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) Polio Working Group, South African NITAG (National Advisory Group on Immunisation - NAGI) and South African National Task Force (NTF) for Laboratory Containment of Poliovirus.