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Phd Students

Dr. Zhang Wan Zhu (Ranio)

Email: mndwan002@myuct.ac.za, raniox@hotmail.com

I was born and grew up in China, where I got my Bachelor degree in Medicine(MBChB). In 2006, I shifted to Uganda with my family and have been living in this country since then. I got my Master degree of internal medicine(MMed) in 2012 in Makerere University and completed cardiology fellowship training in 2016 in Uganda Heart Institute.

I am currently working as a general cardiologist in Uganda Heart Institute, playing roles in clinical services, teaching and research. My areas of interest are cardiovascular imaging and cardio oncology.

In 2008, I jointed Cardiac Disease and Maternity Research Group in Hatter Institute for Cardiovascular Disease in Africa as a PhD candidate, under the supervision of Prof Karen Sliwa and Dr Feriel Azibani.

My research project is aimed at evaluate the burden and risk factor of subclinical anthracycline therapy related cardiac dysfunction(ATRCD), identify available conventional ECHO parameters that are able to diagnose subclinical ATRCD and evaluate effectiveness of available cheaper drug in treating subclinical ATRCD.


Ms Pheletso Lekuta

emainl:  LTKPHE001@myuct.ac.za

My name is Pheletso Letuka and I was born in Maseru, Lesotho. I graduated from the Nelson Mandela University with a degree in Human Movement Science in 2016. In the same year I was admitted to the Bachelor of Medical Science (Hons) in Physiology at UCT, where I graduated in 2017. I then pursued a Msc in Medicine under the supervision of Professor Ntobeko Ntusi and co-supervision of Professor Brian Rayner, UCT.

I am currently a PhD candidate within Professor Ntusi's research group. My masters research project focused on using cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to characterise the phenotype of resistant uncontrolled hypertension. In 2019, we will be exploring the connection between the brain and gut microbiome as well as the development of vascular dementia in patients with resistant uncontrolled hypertension using functional MRI (fMRI).


Mr. Polycarp NDIBANGWI

Email: ndbpol001@myuct.ac.za ; ndibangwi@gmail.com

I was born and brought-up in Ndop, Cameroon. I obtained a B.Sc. in Biochemistry from the University of Buea. I got a PG Dip and M.Sc. in Chemical Pathology from the Walter Sisulu University, South Africa.

As a PhD student, my research will involve the use of Next Generation Sequencing to determine whether genetic mutations are associated with cardiomyopathies in a large South African cardiomyopathy cohort of probands. Also, the functionality of any found gene(s) will be validated in Zebrafish model.



Mr Aremu Olukayode Solomon

em: solomonpeace23@gmail.com

Aremu Olukayode Solomon is a Ph.D. student supervised by Prof Ntobeko Ntusi and A/Prof. Sebastian Skatulla. He holds an MSc in Physiological Sciences from Walter Sisulu University where he explored the antihypertensive and antioxidant properties of some medicinal plants in SHRs and L-Name-induced hypertensive Wistar rats. He is involved in Rheumatic heart disease project, where he is investigating the numerous contributions of Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance and autophagy biomarkers in RHD, being a causative factor of heart failure.


Mr Daniel Mutithu

email:  MTTDAN008@myuct.ac.za>

I am a first year PhD student working on Rheumatic heart diseases (RHD) with Prof. Ntobeko Ntusi and A/Prof. Sebastian Skatulla.

The project aims at combining medical imaging techniques, mechanical tissue testing, as well as cell and molecular biological analysis of cardiac tissue samples with computational cardiac mechanics to gain insight into the chronology of inflammatory heart diseases from the medical and the biomechanics perspective to guide decision making in finding patient-specific treatment options.

My piece of the puzzle is conducting metabolomics studies on RHD tissues with an aim of tracking disease signaling small molecules (metabolites) that could be markers for RHD progression.

Having an MSc Medical Biotechnology (Wageningen University & Research Center, The Netherlands) and BSc Biotechnology (Kenyatta University, Kenya) have contributed to my interest in using modern technologies in answering cardiovascular disease questions.


Mr Stephen Kamuli

stephenknzeki@gmail.com; KMLSTE001@myuct.ac.za

BSc in Biochemistry

Stephen is originally from Nairobi, Kenya where he performed his undergraduate studies at The University of Nairobi and then went on to graduate in 2013. He moved to Cape Town in February 2015 and is currently undertaking an MSc in molecular genetics under the RHDGen project banner at The University of Cape Town under supervision of Professor Bongani Mayosi and Dr. Gasnat Shaboodien (PhD).

Stephen’s work centers on understanding the genetic etiology of the various forms of cardiomyopathies which includes patients with arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC), dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), restricted cardiomyopathy (RCM) and peripartum cardiomyopathy (PCM).


Mr Vitaris Kodogo

Email: kdgvit001@myuct.ac.za / kodogovitaris@gmail.com

Mr Vitaris Kodogo is a PhD student within the Cardiac Disease in Maternity Group, supervised by Prof Karen Sliwa and Dr Feriel Azibani. His project aims to understand the mechanisms involved in cardiac remodelling during normal pregnancy and postpartum. He is a holder of an MPhil from The University of Zimbabwe College of Health Sciences. The desire for cardiovascular research emanated from his Masters studies where he looked at dyslipidaemia in HIV patients in Zimbabwe


Mr Nicholas Woudberg


BSc in Biochemistry and Microbiology, BSc (Hons) in Biochemistry

I am originally from Hilton, KwaZulu-Natal and completed both an undergraduate as well as an honours degree at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Upon completion of my honours in biochemistry, I started a MSc (MED) in Medicine at the Hatter Cardiovascular Research Institute in 2014 under the supervision of Associate Professor Sandrine Lecour from the Hatter and Dr Julia Goedecke from the Sports Science Institute.


·         Member – South African Heart Association (SA Heart)

·         Member - South African Society for Cardiovascular Research (SASCAR)

·         Member – Heart Failure Society of South Africa (HeFFSA)

·         Member – Physiology Society of South Africa (PSSA)

Research project

Having successfully upgraded my Masters to a PhD in July 2015 I will continue my work examining the associations between cardiovascular risk factors and high-density lipoproteins (HDL).

Maryam FishMs Maryam Fish

021-4066554 | FSHMAR008@myuct.ac.za

MSc (Med)

I was born and grew up in Cape Town. I matriculated in 2004 and went on to study at the University of Cape Town (UCT) from 2005 to the present. I completed my BSc in Genetics and Physiology at UCT in 2007, my BSc (Med) Honours at UCT in 2008 and my MSc (Med) at UCT in 2010. I am currently doing my PhD (Med) in Cardiovascular Genetics at UCT.

Current Research

I am working on the genetic causes of arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy and dilated cardiomyopathy, as well as other types of cardiomyopathy. My focus is on identifying the genetic causes of these diseases in a number of families, and also,how these genetic factors lead to the development of disease.

Mr Babu Muhamed

021-6505931 |mhmbab001@myuct.ac.za

Babu Muhamed, completed his schooling in South Africa, after which he obtained his BSc (Hons) in Medical Microbiology (University of Pretoria, 2009) and MSc in Medicine (University of Cape Town, 2013).  He joined the Mayosi Research Group in the Department of Medicine during his Master’s Degree, reporting on the molecular epidemiology of group A streptococcus among children with sore throat in Cape Town.

Recently, Babu’s Doctoral studies on the Genetics of Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) in Africans, the first large genetic study of rheumatic heart disease in the African population, confirmed genetic susceptibility in Africans and highlighted the sharing of susceptibility genes between RHD and other autoimmune diseases.  Babu’s thesis provides novel insights into the crucial understanding of the disease mechanisms in RHD.

Looking ahead, Babu’s Post-doctoral work on RHD aim to contribute to the efforts of eradicating RHD in our lifetime.

Dr Nkanyiso Hadebe

021-4066554 | nkanyiso.hadebe@uct.ac.za

Dr Anastase Dzudie


Ms Aqeela Imamdin


BSc in Biochemistry and Genetics (University of Cape Town), BSc (med)(Hons) in Biochemistry (University of Cape Town), MSc in Medicine (University of Cape Town) I am presently pursuing my doctorate in medicine under the supervision of Professor Sandrine Lecour, Professor Lionel Opie, Dr joy McCarthy and Professor Karen Sliwa. The focus of my project is on the potential therapeutic benefits of modifiying heart rate in the setting of acute heart failure. I also teach mathematics, physics and chemistry at a senior certificate level. I enjoy painting, flying, and people who suggest we go and visit the beach.


Member – South African Heart Association (SA Heart) Member – South African Society for Cardiovascular Research (SASCAR) Member – Physiology Society of South Africa (PSSA)


Mahmoud March 2014

Dr Mahmoud Sani



I was born and grew up in Kano, Nigeria. I am a clinician and my background is Internal Medicine and Cardiology. I graduated from the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Nigeria with MBBS in 1993. I finished residency in internal medicine and cardiology in 2002.

My areas of interests include heart failure, cardiovascular imaging and cardiovascular features of HIV/AIDS. I have been involved in many collaborative researches in cardiovascular medicine across the African continent led by Prof Karen Sliwa and Prof Bongani Mayosi. I currently work with Bayero University Kano and Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, Kano, Nigeria.

I enrolled to do a PhD at the Hatter Institute of Cardiovascular research in Africa, under the supervision of Prof Karen Sliwa and Dr Gad Cotter. I will be working on “characteristics and outcome of acute heart failure patients in sub Saharan Africa” with focus on the role of conventional (NT Pro BNP) and novel (Galactin -3 and GDF-15) on diagnosis and prognosis in these patients.


Ms Siddiqah George

021 406 6554 | grgsid001@myuct.ac.za

MSc in Biomedical Sciences, Stellenbosch University

I am currently a PhD candidate in the Cardioprotection Group at HICRA, under the supervision of Associate Professor Sandrine Lecour.

My PhD research elucidates how prolonged fructose overconsumption mediates changes in mitochondrial function in rat white skeletal versus cardiac muscle, as a model of mitochondrial dysfunction in advanced type-2 diabetes.

The study also investigates exercise and nicotinamide riboside (a vitamin B precursor) as potential therapies for ameliorating fructose-induced mitochondrial dysfunction.


Mr Timothy Spracklen

email:  SPRTIM002@myuct.ac.za

I am a PhD candidate from the Hatter Institute’s Cardiovascular Genetics group. I completed my BSc in Biochemistry and Genetics at the University of Cape Town, and stayed here for my BSc(Med)(Hons) and MSc. I am currently investigating the genetics of familial cardiomyopathy, supervised by Dr Gasnat Shaboodien and Prof Bongani Mayosi. The overarching aim of our research is to understand the genetic aetiology of various forms of heart muscle diseases, including dilated, hypertrophic, restrictive, and arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathies. The objectives of my project include (1) the analysis of next-generation sequencing data from individuals affected with familial cardiomyopathy and (2) the establishment of model systems in our laboratory for the functional validation of candidate genes, and further analysis of cardiac disease mechanisms.

Mr Julian Hoevelmann

Email: julian.hovelmann@uct.ac.za

I am a fifth year medical Student from Hannover Medical School in Germany.

For the next nine months, I have the opportunity to join the Cardiac Disease and Maternity Research Group at the Hatter Institute for Cardiovascular Research in Africa (University of Cape Town) as a research fellow.

My current research project aims to evaluate the long-term outcome of patients with peripartum cardiomyopathy.