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Academic Staff

Sandrine LecourProf. Sandrine Lecour

Deputy Director of the Hatter Institute for Cardiovascular Research in Africa
E-mail: Sandrine.lecour@uct.ac.za

Sandrine Lecour PharmD, PhD, trained at the University of Burgundy, France. She is a full Professor at the University of Cape Town, Deputy Director of Hatter Institute for Cardiovascular Research in Africa and Leader of the Cardioprotection group within the Institute.

In 2015, she raised 10 million Rands to create the Lionel Opie Preclinical Imagining (Opie) Core Facility (www.lopi.uct.ac.za) which forms the first African preclinical Core imaging facility with state-of-the art equipment available for training and research.

 Her research group focuses on the delineation of novel cardioprotective therapies and the understanding of intrinsic cardioprotective signalling pathways that can promote cell survival in various pathophysiological conditions, such as heart failure, myocardial infarction, pulmonary hypertension or diabetes. With the discovery of a novel cardioprotective signalling pathway that she has termed the SAFE (Survivor Activating Factor Enhancement) pathway, she has been invited to give lectures to international prestigious meetings such as the International Society for Heart Research meeting, the European Society of Cardiology meeting and the American Heart Association meeting. She has published over 100 papers in peer-reviewed journals (h index = 37). She is on the Editorial Board of Journal of Pineal Research (IF 10.4), Basic Research in Cardiology (IF 6.0), Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology (IF 5.2), and on the Editorial Advisory Panel of Clinical Science (IF 4.0).

Prof Sandrine Lecour is a Committee Member of the ESC working group on Cellular Biology of the Heart since 2011 and the treasurer of the ISHR European section since 2017. Fellow of the European Society of Cardiology and she is currently a listed grade B scientist of the South African National Research Foundation.

As the founder and the President of the South African Society for Cardiovascular Research (SASCAR) (2009-2016), she strives to promote the research and training of students in the cardiovascular field in South Africa and to foster national and international network by organizing workshops in close collaboration with the European Society of Cardiology and the International Society for Heart Research.  .

She has supervised over 40 postgraduate students

For additional information, please go to http://www.hatter.uct.ac.za/icra/research/cardio-protection


Professor Ntobeko Ntusi B.Sc(hons) MB.ChB(UCT) FCP(SA) MD(UCT) D.Phil(Oxon)

Email:  Ntobeko.Ntusi@uct.ac.za>

Professor Ntobeko Ntusi is a cardiologist, a Professor of Medicine and is the Chair and Head of Medicine at the University of Cape Town (UCT) and Groote Schuur Hospital (GSH); and is the Clinical Lead for Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance (CMR) at UCT and GSH. He is a principal investigator based at the Hatter Institute for Cardiovascular Research in Africa and the Cape Universities Body Imaging Centre, UCT. He has extensive experience with basic science, translational and clinical research and currently supervises postgraduate students and is conducting several single- and multi-centre mechanistic studies, which are mostly CMR-based. He has been actively engaged and contributed to improved understanding of cardiomyopathy, inflammatory heart disease and heart failure in South Africa and globally.



Associate Professor Gasnat Shaboodien

Hatter Genetics Group

021-4066615 | gasnat.shaboodien@uct.ac.za

Associate Professor Gasnat Shaboodien is the current director of the cardiovascular genetics research laboratory, of which she has been group leader since 2013 (the unit was originally led by Professor Bongani Mayosi) . She is a trained molecular geneticist with her main areas of interest being the genetics of inherited cardiac diseases, HIV-associated cardiomyopathy and other rare disorders. Her research aims to discover the genetic causes of inherited heart diseases that cause sudden death or that require heart transplants. This has involved the study of rare families with monogenic disease (i.e. inherited cardiomyopathies and arrhythmogenic disorders), and the delineation of the genetic architecture of complex traits associated with sudden death (such as cardiac hypertrophy). In 2009 her team reported the first multicenter study on the clinical characteristics, survival experience, and profile of PKP2 gene mutations in patients with ARVC (heart disease) from the African continent.

In 2013 they found a new gene (FAM111B) as the cause of a newly reported disease called hereditary fibrosing poikiloderma and then in 2017 they made headline news when they discovered a new gene (CDH2) as the cause of sudden cardiac death in ARVC. A/Prof Shaboodien and her team have also recently established the first zebrafish unit at the University of Cape Town (UCT), thereby introducing the zebrafish as a new disease model at UCT. She is a co-investigator on many large international studies and also occupies the role of laboratory director and molecular geneticist in all these studies which include (1) RHDGen, which is a large H3Africa study involving seven centers and 6000 samples (Cape Town, Namibia, Mozambique, Zambia, Nigeria, Kenya and Sudan) across Africa (2) IMHOTEP, which is a new consortium that was established in 2015 to study the clinical characteristics, causes, treatment and outcome of 750 cardiomyopathy cases over the next 10 years and (3) PROTEA, a congenital heart disease study aiming to recruit over 1200 samples across multiple centers. She has supervised over fifteen postgraduate students from Hons. to PhD level, many of them graduating with high honors and cum laudes

Dr Bert Mohr

E-mail: bert.mohr@uct.ac.za

BVSc (Hons), MMedVet (Med), DPhil, Dipl. ECVIM (Internal Medicine)

Dr Bert Mohr joined the University of Cape Town in November 2010 as Director of the UCT Research Animal Facility and Faculty of Health Sciences’ Veterinarian. He joined the Hatter Institute as his academic home in November 2012. Bert was born and raised in the Western Cape of South Africa. He graduated in veterinary medicine (1997) and specialised in veterinary internal medicine (2002) at the University of Pretoria, gained the Diploma of the European College of Veterinary Internal Medicine as specialist physician (2001), and following a period of lecturing in the Caribbean, obtained a DPhil (PhD) at Oxford University in human genetics (2010). Bert’s research interests include the genetic regulation of cellular adaptation to hypoxia (oxygen deficiency), molecular profiling (transcriptomics), population genetics, genomic epidemiology, genome-wide association studies, multivariate statistical modelling and the refinement of animal experiments. He is passionate about translational research, sustainable capacity building and investing in the African leaders of the future. In his free time he loves spending time with his wife, daughter and dogs; walking in nature, surfing, djembe drumming and the odd game of chess.


Honorary Associate Professor Gad Cotter

Born in Bucharest, Romania Jan 2nd 1964. Immigrated to Israel in 1970. Received all education in Bat-Yam a southern neighborhood of Tel-Aviv, the equivalent of South Boston on Bronx in New York. Finished public middle and high school in Bat Yam Cum Laude. Undergraduate and graduate medical school in the Hebrew university, Jerusalem. Following internship in Tel Aviv served 4 years in the Israeli army as a battalion level medical support for an infantry regiment and then the chief medical officer for Nablus. Medicine and Cardiology training in a metropolitan city in Tel Aviv were interests in research was first developed. First publication in a major journal in 2nd year of internal medicine residency. First Lancet paper in the third year of residency. By the end of fellowship published in all major CV journals, affecting patients care in heart failure and atrial fibrillation.  Started site based research center in hospital striving to bring clinical research to everyday practice. Site based research established by creating a pro-bono clinic and HF program financed by the proceedings of clinical research. All employees of clinic were compensated based on base salary and up to 150% extra for successful recruitment in clinical studies. The results have been top recruitment in studies such as TIMI studies, Enable, Veritas, all Carvedilol approval studies, etc. In parallel established site initiated research program that enabled the progress of academic fellowship programs out of metropolitan hospital making it one the most lucrative cardiovascular fellowships in Israel.

Moved to the US in 2004 to become HF faculty in Duke taking a secondary research psotion in DCRI. In 2006 established Momentum Research a privately held semi academical research organization that helps develop new interventions in HF as well as promote scientific progress and world health focusing in Africa. Momentum Research is currently eliding on 11 HF programs, representing 90% of global HF research, sponsored the first major HF initiative in Africa and is supporting dozens of manuscripts leading some of the important innovations in the HF field. 


Honorary Associate Professor Friedrich Thienemann (MD; MScIH, DTMPH)


Professor Friedrich Thienemann is an internal medicine specialist with post graduate training in infectious diseases, tropical medicine and global health. For the past 10 years, most of his research work has been in the area of interactions of chronic diseases and infectious diseases, with special focus on co-morbidities in HIV. In 2009, he joined the Department of Medicine and the Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine at the University of Cape Town. He has significant research experience at PI, Co-PI and Co-investigator level of several EU, NIH and university-funded grants. He successfully administered multi-national, multi-site clinical research projects, collaborated with other researchers, and authored more than thirty publications in peer-reviewed journals over the last years, amongst them NEJM, Lancet Respir Med, and EHJ. Since 2010, Prof Thienemann has collaborated with members of the HICRA mainly on aspects of HIV-associated cardiovascular disease and he then joined the institute as a board member in 2017. In the same year, Prof Thienemann received Honorary Associate Professorship at the University of Cape Town and took a post as staff physician and principle investigator at the University Hospital Zurich and at the University of Zurich. Since then, he holds a dual appointment at the University of Zurich and University of Cape Town.  In 2019, Prof Thienemann established the research group: General Medicine & Global Health (GMGH) where he is the director. GMGH has two sites: University of Zurich and University of Cape Town.


Associate Professor Melinda Carrington

Melinda Carrington is Associate Professor and Centre Director for Primary Care and Prevention at the newly established Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research with the Australian Catholic University. She is an Australian National Heart Foundation Future Leader Fellow prior to being a past recipient of prestigious National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Career Development and Early Career Fellowships. She completed her PhD at The University of Melbourne in 2007 and undertook post-doctoral training at the world renowned Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute where she remained as a Lab Head until 2014. She continues to hold an Honorary appointment with Baker IDI and is an International Visiting Senior Researcher at the Hatter Institute for Cardiovascular Research in Africa, University of Cape Town, and an Adjunct Senior Research Fellow at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.

Melinda is a Health Services Researcher undertaking large-scale risk surveillance studies and studying nurse-led models of care for cardiovascular disease and diabetes, especially in disadvantaged and vulnerable populations (e.g regional communities and Indigenous groups). Her main research interest is in the primary prevention of these conditions. Her other research interests relate to the primary care management of risk factors and the development of practical electronic tools to assist health care professionals. Over the past decade, Melinda has designed, conducted and published national outcome studies in primary care (VIPER-BP, Pressure Points); multi-site, pragmatic RCTs of multidisciplinary interventions (WHICH? & WHICH? II, NIL-CHF, Young@Heart, SAFETY) and community surveillance studies (National Blood Pressure Study, Healthy Hearts).

Melinda has over 70 original research manuscripts (>50 in the past 5 years) including Lancet, JACC and BMJ publications. She has current competitive NHMRC funding of $7.4 million and has been awarded $1.4 million in direct career support in the past 8 years. Currently, she leads a $1.3 million NHMRC Project Grant to establish regional nurse-led clinics and holds other Project Grants in Aboriginal health and chronic heart failure as well as Centre of Research Excellence funding to support teams of researchers to pursue collaborative research and develop capacity in health services research. Prior competitive and collaborative funding totals >$6 million and previous other commercial/philanthropic support totals $1.5 million, including $6.3 million for the VIPER-BP clinical trial.

Professor Deon Bezuidenhout

email: Deon.Bezuidenhout@uct.ac.za

Deon Bezuidenhout holds a B.Sc. in Chemistry and Applied Mathematics, B.Sc. (Hons.) and M.Sc. (both cum laude) and Ph.D. degrees in Polymer Science from Stellenbosch University, South Africa. He is Director of the Cardiovascular Research Unit (CRU) and co-Director of the Cape Heart Institute at the University of Cape Town (UCT), and has 25 years of experience in the design, synthesis, modification, and processing of synthetic and bioprosthetic materials for use in medical devices. 

As Full Professor in the Department of Surgery (UCT), he teaches the multidisciplinary field of Biomaterials Science at undergraduate and postgraduate levels to students with backgrounds in science, engineering, surgery and medicine, and specialises in the development of biomaterial scaffolds and biomimetic matrices for prosthetic and regenerative medicine approaches to cardiovascular and related devices and therapies. He has published 73 papers (h-index = 34) and 11 book/encyclopedia chapters in this field, and is inventor on 41 international patent families on various cardiovascular devices and technologies. Current and recent projects include the development of tissue engineered vascular and heart valve prostheses, drug-eluting hydrogels and electrospun scaffolds for surgical meshes, patient-specific endovascular aortic repair (EVAR) grafts, devices for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnoea, and transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) and repair devices.

Prof Bezuuidenhout is chair of the Departmental Postgraduate Committee (PGC), serves on the Departmental Research Committee (DRC), faculty Doctoral and Masters Committee (DMC) and Safety Health and Environment (SHE) Committee, and has recently been elected to the board of the South African Heart Association (SA Heart®) and to the College of Fellows of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineers (AIMBE). He is also co-founder and technical director of Strait Access Technologies (SAT), a university startup company developing TAVR valves suitable for valvular diseases ranging from calcific aortic stenosis to pure regurgitation, thus offering solutions not only for patients in industrialised nations, but also cost-effective solutions to millions of sufferers of rheumatic heart disease in developing countries (www.straitaccesstechnologies.com).