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 Wasserman joined CIDRI-Africa as a senior lecturer in the Clinical Research Platform. He obtained his medical degree from the University of Cape Town in 2004 and went on to train in Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases, also at UCT. After briefly working as a consultant physician, Dr Wasserman moved into full time clinical research in 2016. He is currently completing a PhD on linezolid for drug-resistant tuberculosis for which he was awarded an EDCTP Fellowship. Dr Wasserman’s main research interest is the use of new and repurposed drugs for tuberculosis, with a focus on pharmacokinetics and resistance. He is the local principal investigator of the MSF-sponsored multicentre endTB trial. Other areas of interest include pneumocystis pneumonia and antibiotic stewardship.
HIV, cellular immunology, HIV/TB co-infection, vaccines, mucosal immunology
Immunology of TB and HIV-associated TB
Epidemiology, TB, drug-resistance, treatment, diagnosis
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 immunity to helminths, pulmonary immunity
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
Evolution of viruses
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
Infectious diseases (HIV/TB), immune memory, antigen-specific responses, T cell differentiation, cytokines, signal transduction and T cell lineage commitment
HIV and TB; understanding reasons for resistance to TB infection in individuals with sustained exposure to TB but who remain uninfected
HIV vaccine development especially via the development of live poxvirus vectors
Large-scale interventions against, and understanding the transmission of, TB & HIV