Dr Suraj Parihar
Senior Research Officer - Basic Science Platform
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.
Associate Professor Sean Wasserman
Senior Medical Research Officer - Clinical Research Platform
Associate Professor 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, he 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. Sean’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.