PhD (Clinical Immunology)


I am a Medical Scientist with the National Health Laboratory Services (NHLS) and an Associate Professor in the Division of Medical Virology in the Institute for Infectious Diseases and Molecular Medicine (IDM) at UCT.  I head the Mucosal Infections Group (MIG) at UCT and the HIV Mucosal Immunology laboratory at the Centre for the AIDS Program of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA).


Since 2002, my research has focused on studying genital tract adaptive and innate immune responses associated susceptibility to sexually transmitted viral diseases including HIV and Human Papillomavirus. I am also a member of the HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN) Mucosal Working Group, where my research aims at developing methods to investigate HIV-specific immunity in mucosal tissue including the female genital tract.


MSc (Pathology)


I am a Chief Technical Officer and Laboratory Manager at the MIG Lab, IDM at UCT.  I also head the labs Health and Safety Complience.


Since joining MIG in 2006, in addition to my management responsibilities, I have focused on several different projects and supervised many of the students coming through the group. Currently, my research interests focus on isolation and characterization of vaginal Lactobacillus strains in reproductive health and the role of bacteriophages in disrupting the vaginal ecosystem. 


PhD (Molecular and Cell Biology)


I am a microbiologist with a background in molecular and cell biology.  I joined the MIG team as a Scientific Officer in 2018 where I work on projects that explore the roles that anaerobic bacteria play in female genital tract health and disease.


As part of the laboratory management team, I help to monitor the research laboratories and supervise students.  I also assist with the managing and day-to-day running of the anaerobic culture facility in the IDM.


Within the MIG team under the leadership of Prof Jo-Ann Passmore, I am involved in projects that look at the diversity of bacteriophages within vaginal Lactobacillus spp. (with Drs Anna Happel and Rémy Froissart), the molecular epidemiology of Chlamydia trachomatis in South African women (with Dr Rubina Bunjun and Pride Kanyoka) and the isolation and characterisation of Lactobacillus spp. for use in probiotic products (with Drs Marijke Fagan-Endres and Anna Happel).


PhD (Medical Virology)


I am originally from Cameroon and I completed my tertiary education in biomedical sciences at UCT. I joined the MIG lab in 2017 as a postdoctoral research fellow where I am applying my skills in HIV immunology to understanding factors influencing vaginal health and the risk of HIV infection.


I am involved in the following projects: i) assessing the role of Depo-Provera and other contraceptives on genital inflammation and HIV risk, as part of the Evidence for Contraceptive Options and HIV outcomes (ECHO) study (; ii) understanding the role of vitamin D deficiency and genital mucosal susceptibility to STIs like HPV and HIV and iii) the development of point-of-care tests to detect asymptomatic STIs/bacterial vaginosis (BV). These projects seek to contribute towards improving vaginal health outcomes and reducing the burden of HIV in Africa.


Studying for PhD


I am a South African, and believe we need South Africans looking for solutions to South African problems.  I have a Master’s degree in Genetics and a Master’s degree in Forensic Science both from UCT. My goal is do forensic research and aid in sciences that help society in general.

The effects that semen exposure and penetrative sexual intercourse has on the immunity of the female genital tract. I hope this research will help define biomarkers for sexual intercourse which could aid in determining HIV risk in women. My long-term goal for this project was to determine biomarkers of force penetration in sexual assault survivors to investigate the possibility of using these biomarkers as an object measure as evidence in criminal proceedings.


Studying for PhD


I am originally from Zimbabwe, I studied at Bulawayo Polytechnic and Harare Polytechnic for my undergraduate studies. I worked on Chlamydia pecorum epidemiology in free ranging koalas at Queensland University of Technology inAustralia for my Msc thesis. I joined MIG group in 2019.


My PhD project involves investigating Chlamydia trachomatis genetic diversity in high-risk adolescent women population in South Africa using both high-resolution multi-locus sequence typing and whole genome sequencing. Exploring the relationship between genital inflammation and persistence focusing specifically on sequence variation in Chlamydia trachomatis virulence and antigen factors.


MSc in Medical Virology


I completed my BSc in Biochemistry and Genetics at the University of Cape Town in 2017. I then joined the MIG lab in 2018 and completed my Honours in Immunology and Infectious diseases . My thesis topic was Characterizing T cell responses in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) stimulated with heat killed or lysed Chlamydia trachomatis. I will be completing my MSc in Medical Virology in early 2021 focusing on fluorescent detection methods for Chlamydia trachomatis.


My MSc project involved exploring various commercially available fluorescent microscopy techniques that are typically used to visualize and quantify intracellular CT grown in cell culture and performance with regards to sensitivity and reproducibility were also investigated. The following four commercially available methods: (1) Pathfinder’s CT monoclonal antibody kit, (2) Invitrogen’s CT MOMP polyclonal Antibody, (3) Invitrogen’s CT MOMP monoclonal antibody, and (4) Trinity Biotech MicroTrak CT detection kit were compared.


MSc in Medical Virology


I am a half-German born and raised in Cape Town. I completed my BSc in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the University of Stellenbosch majoring in Microbiology and Genetics. In 2020 I moved to UCT for my Honours in Immunology and Infectious diseases. I joined the Mucosal Infections Group for my honours research project and have stayed in 2021 for my MSc.


My research project focuses on isolating Lactobacillus strains from young healthy South African women with a persistently optimal vaginal microbiota. This project is part of developing a framework for an African vaginal probiotic product development platform for reproductive health.


BA (Art), HDE (Cape Town)


Adolescent sexual reproductive health (SRH) and how visual art methodologies can contribute to deeper understandings within SRH biomedical research.