• Prof. Thumbi Ndung'u

    Prof. Thumbi Ndung'u - HPP Scientific Director


    Professor Thumbi Ndung'u

    Scientific Director


    Professor Thumbi Ndung’u, B.V.M., PhD is the Scientific Director of the HIV Pathogenesis Programme (HPP) at the Doris Duke Medical Research Institute, Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal. He holds the South African Research Chair in Systems Biology of HIV/AIDS and the Victor Daitz Chair in HIV/TB Research at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Professor Ndung’u is an Investigator and Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology Research Group Leader at the KwaZulu-Natal Natal Research Institute for Tuberculosis and HIV (K-RITH). In January 2012, he was one of the recipients of the inaugural Howard Hughes Medical Institute International Early Career Scientist award. He is an Associate Member of the Ragon Institute of Massachusetts General Hospital, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University and a Visiting Scientist at Massachusetts General Hospital.


    Professor Ndung’u graduated with a degree in Veterinary Medicine from the University of Nairobi, Kenya, and obtained a PhD in Biological Sciences in Public Health from Harvard University. He then undertook postdoctoral studies in Virology at Harvard Medical School. He is a past recipient of the Edgar Haber award (Harvard University), the Vice-Chancellor’s research award (University of KwaZulu-Natal) and the Friedland Senior Health Researcher Prize (South Africa). In 2012, he was a finalist for National Science and Technology Forum/BHP Billiton Awards for outstanding contribution to Science, Engineering, Technology and Innovation (SETI) in the category of research capacity development over the last 5 to 10 years. From 2008 to 2011, he co-chaired the Young and Early Career Investigators Committee (YECIC) of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise and played a key role in the formulation of the Enterprise’s 2010 Scientific Strategic Plan. He is a member of the scientific advisory board of the southern African Consortium for Research Excellence (SACORE), a research consortium of five southern African Universities and their counterparts from the United Kingdom. He is on the external advisory committee of the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane-University of California, San Diego Medical Education Partnership.


    Professor Ndung’u’s research interests are host-virus interactions, antiviral immune responses and biomedical interventions applicable to resource-limited settings. Professor Ndung'u has published in peer-reviewed journals in the fields of virology, immunology and biomedical research policy. He has successfully supervised more than 20 postgraduate students and postdoctoral researchers. He has received grant funding from diverse sources including the National Research Foundation of South Africa, the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), the National Institutes of Health (United States), the European Union, the Canadian Global Health Research Initiative, the Max Planck Society and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (United States). He leads a multidisciplinary team of researchers working in the fields of HIV and TB pathogenesis and vaccine development. He has special interest in capacity building for biomedical research in Africa.

  • Prof. Bruce Walker


    Professor Bruce Walker

    Harvard University 

    Professor Bruce D Walker is Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and the Director of the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard. He is the Director of the Harvard University Center for AIDS Research (CFAR). He holds a joint appointment as Professor of Medicine at the University of KwaZulu Natal. Professor Walker’s clinical specialty is infectious disease, focusing on HIV/AIDS and he has led the HIV research field from the mid-1980’s identifying cytotoxic T lymphocytes as key participants in effective control of HIV infection. This work, and other work he has done, laid the foundation for detailed understanding of immune responses to HIV, but had focused on the strains of a viral clade found in the US and Europe and defined responses in the context of Caucasian HLA types. A different viral clade is most prevalent in South Africa and is responsible for the majority of new infections world-wide.  Thus, Walker initiated a pilot research program in 1998 in Durban, South Africa on HIV pathogenesis, with Professor Hoosen Coovadia.  Since then, Walker and his collaborators have received additional financial support and expanded this work; in 2003 Walker helped to secure funding to create the Doris Duke Medical Research Institute (DDMRI) in Durban aimed at creating a synergistic research environment using extensive collaborations among the major sites of HIV research and treatment within South Africa.


  • Prof. Philip Goulder


    Professor Philip Goulder

    Oxford University 

    Professor Philip Goulder is Professor of Immunology at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom and has a joint appointment as Professor of Pediatrics at the University of KwaZulu Natal. He co-initiated the HIV Pathogenesis Programme with Professors Walker and Coovadia in Durban in 1998. Professor Goulder is a world recognized leader in the role of genetic variation, particularly human leukocyte antigens in the control of HIV-1. Professor Goulder has led seminal work on HLA-mediated immune control of HIV in South Africa. This work has been published in leading international journals such as Nature, Nature Medicine, Journal of Experimental Medicine and others. Professor Goulder has held active grants on HIV research in Durban since 1998. These funds have come from diverse donors such as the United States’ National Institutes of Health, Microsoft and the Wellcome Trust among others. He has helped to supervise students and other researchers in the HIV Pathogenesis Programme including masters and PhD students. His work has been undertaken in both pediatric and adult cohorts and has contributed significantly to the understanding of immune control of HIV-1 and to the development of new policy guidelines for the management of pediatric HIV infection in South Africa.


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