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Centre Staff

Jon Ambler

Mr 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, I now provide bioinformatics support to the CIDRI-Africa Wellcome Centre.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.

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

Berenice Arendse

Ms Berenice Arendse
IDM Health and Safety Officer and Laboratory manager

Berenice Arendse holds a National Higher Diploma in Biomedical Technology; she joined the IDM in 2011 as the Laboratory Manager and was subsequently appointed to the position of Health and Safety (H&S) and Laboratory Manager in 2012, overseeing the operations of the IDM.  Key functions include the direct management of the IDM’s two BSLIII core facilities. Prior to this she worked in both the diagnostic and research laboratories of the NHLS for 8 years in various Medical Technology promotional rankings and supervisory roles, and thereafter spent 12 years in the Division of Immunology UCT FHS as a Research Technical Officer and Laboratory Manager. She has more than 15 years of laboratory management experience and obtained the knowledge and skills of working with infectious agents and their controlled laboratory environment in the Division of Immunology (2000-2011), and during this period, at the Max Planck Institute in Freiburg and the Institute of Immunology, Veterinary Medicine Leipzig University.

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).

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.

Vanessa January

Mrs Vanessa January
Laboratory Manager

Vanessa January was appointed as the Laboratory Manager for the Clinical Infectious Diseases Research Initiative (CIDRI) in 2010.

Prior to this appointment she worked for the Aeras Global TB Vaccine Foundation providing technical support for TB laboratories conducting Aeras- sponsored  clinical trials, at the UCT Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine supervising the BSL3 research laboratory for the Wilkinson Group and at the NHLS Medical Microbiology Laboratory, Groote Schuur Hospital.

The Laboratory Manager is responsible for:

  • Supervising and managing overall laboratory operations.
  • Be the liaison between clinical and laboratory staff.
  • Involved in planning of new studies.
  • Assist in the preparation of laboratory results for presentation at meetings.
Sonya Koekemoer

Ms Sonya Koekemoer
Pharmacist

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.

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.

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.

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