H3Africa Spotlights

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Barbara Nerima (PhD)

Dr Barbara Nerima (PhD)

Study Coordinator; TrypanoGEN+ project with its Secratariat at Makerere University and has sites at Uganda Virus Research Institute, in Malawi, DRC, Ivory Coast, Cameroon and Guinea. The study aims at identifying the genetic determinants of two neglected Tropical diseases; Human African Trypanosomiasis and Schistosomiasis.

Barbara has a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry/Chemistry and Master of Science in Molecular biology, both from Makerere University, Uganda and a Doctorate in Science from the University of Bern, Switzerland in 2009. Barbara started off her Research Career in 2002 as a Research Assistant and rose to the rank of Research Officer I in 2009 soon after her PhD. Barbara has a vast experience in laboratory work especially Molecular Biology, little experience in ELISA, Flow cytometry and Multiplex Ligation-dependent Probe Amplification Assay (MLPA). She also has experience in field-related activities of Neglected Tropical Diseases and project. Barbara has interest in Functional genomics and systems biology.

From January 2012-February 2016, Barbara worked as a Post-doctoral Research Scientist/Assistant coordinator of the Makerere University- Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) Research Training programme in Infection and Immunity (MUII) at UVRI. As a Coordinator she gained skills in coordinating activities which have been of great help since she became the project Manager of the TrypanoGEN project from April 2016- December 2018 and now is the Project manager of TrypanoGEN+ project. During these years I have gained a lot of skills in Research management and improved project coordination skills.

Blessing Rotondwa Sitabule

Blessing Rotondwa Sitabule

Some of our H3Africa Fellows were part of the Graduation ceremonies that took place at the University of the Witwatersrand in July 2022.

Congratulations to Blessing Rotondwa Sitabule who graduated with an MSc in Human Genetics. He was supervised by Dr Houcemeddine Othman and Prof Scott Hazelhurst. His research was entitled “Structural Bioinformatics Analysis of CYP2D6 pharmacogenetic variation relevant to sub-Saharan African populations”. The research was based at the Sydney Brenner Institute for Molecular Bioscience (SBIMB) and it was nested within the Wits-HAfrica/GSK ADME project, with Prof Scott Hazelhurst as the PI of the main project.

Blessing is now a Ph.D. student at the University of the Witwatersrand and his current project will be focused on assessing the impact of genetic variants on proteins involved in antimalaria and anti-TB drug response.

H3Africa Project
AWI-Gen

Carol Crowther

Carol Crowther

Carol is the Project Manager for the HIV Virology Section within the Centre for HIV and STIs at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases based in Johannesburg, South Africa. The research laboratory is headed by Prof. Lynn Morris with the main focus of the research being understanding the antibody response to HIV infection and vaccination and exploring the role of neutralizing antibodies in HIV prevention and treatment. The H3A funded project, titled “Immunoglobulin gene diversity in an African population and impact on antibody function in HIV infection” aims to uncover immunoglobulin gene diversity in the Zulu population of South Africa by sequencing antibody genes and examining the impact of diversity on antibody function. This project is uncovering novel alleles which may be important for understanding infection and for developing more effective vaccines. Stored samples from the CAPRISA cohort in KwaZulu-Natal are being used for the study. The laboratory has also recently become involved in COVID-19 research with the development of SARS-CoV-2 neutralization and Fc effector assays and ELISAs.
Prior to her current position (2014-present) Carol was a laboratory based researcher within the Antiviral Gene Therapy Research Unit in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of the Witwatersrand. She received her PhD from the University of the Witwatersrand for her work on adenoviral delivery of RNA interference (RNAi-) based gene silencing therapeutics for the treatment of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. Carol has worked in various disciplines including virology, oncology and cytogenetics.

David

David

David is the present Study Coordinator of Sickle Cell Disease Genomics Network of Africa (SickleGenAfrica). The project aims at studying genetics of cytoprotective proteins that neutralize hemolysis DAMP molecules and acute organ damage, genome-wide determinants of malaria complications and echo-cardiovascular dysfunction in Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) patients. The study has six (6) sites namely, Accra, Abuja, Lagos, Kumasi, Kano and Dar Es Salaam with Accra being the coordinating site.
David is a T. H. Chan Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard University trained Statistical Geneticist under the quantitative core group mentored by Peter Kraft.

He holds a PhD in Epidemiology and Biostatistics from the University of Amsterdam, an MPhil in Health Informatics (Cum Laude) from the University of Ghana, and a BSc in Biological Sciences from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. He has several training experiences. Specifically, an advanced certificate in Biostatistics and Epidemiology from the Netherlands Institute for Health Sciences, Erasmus Medical Centre, Erasmus University.
David is currently a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Medical Laboratory Sciences, School of Biomedical and Allied Health Sciences, University of Ghana. He is an active member of H3Africa Kidney Research Network and Research on Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes among African Migrants (RODAM) projects. David’s research areas are modelling of chronic kidney disease in low resource environments and among migrants with keen interest in the link between other chronic diseases (sickle cell disease, diabetes, hypertension ) and chronic kidney disease. David serves on several committees at the College, School and departmental levels. David has over 40 peer reviewed publications to his credit and reviews of several journals (PlosOne, BMC Public Health, International Health, Renal Failure etc).

David

David

David is a PhD (Human Genetics) student at the Sydney Brenner Institute for Molecular Bioscience (SBIMB), Wits University, Johannesburg. He is part of the Wits-H3A/GSK ADME team – studying variation in the ADME genes in African populations.

Before joining Wits, David completed his BSc in Biomedical Sciences at Makerere University in 2017 and thereafter joined the Core laboratories at the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) for a three-month internship in Bioinformatics supervised by Dr. Jonathan Kayondo. David then continued his development at UVRI by doing a one-year strategic internship in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology under the Makerere University/UVRI Center for Excellence in Infection and Immunity (MUII-Plus) Research and Training programme. This unique opportunity enabled him to receive focused hands-on training in Unix, Python and R programming, NGS data analysis, Metagenomics, and pipeline development among other skills. Most importantly, the strategic internship offered David an opportunity to receive mentorship from leading Bioinformatics scientists in Uganda and H3ABioNet at large.

David is excited about the opportunity to contribute to pharmacogenomics research in Africa and precision medicine in general, starting with the fascinating work under the Wits-H3A/GSK ADME project. He is also very passionate about mentoring fellow young scientists that are considering career choices in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology.

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