A leading pulmonologist, medical scientist and expert in HIV medicine has been appointed as Dean of the Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine. Professor Umesh Lalloo who is Professor and Chief Specialist at the medical school succeeded Professor Willem Sturm as head of the prestigious Faculty. His illustrious career spans over three decades.  An expert in respiratory diseases and the former President of the South African Thoracic Society, Professor Lalloo is Head of the Respiratory and Critical Care Unit at the medical school.


As the Executive Director of the KwaZulu-Natal Enhancing Care Initiative (ECI) and the Principal Investigator of the International Clinical Trials Unit of the US Division of AIDS he is passionate in his research to stem the suffering of those affected by HIV/AIDS. His passion transcends medical research to train and empower health professionals, especially in the rural areas, in the clinical knowledge and understanding of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. Through the Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI) of which he is the programme Director Professor Lalloo is at the helm of spearheading initiatives that would benefit communities. The MEPI is designed to support the United States Presidents Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)’s goals to train and retain 140 000 new health care workers and improve the capacity of partner countries to deliver primary health care.


 Professor Lalloo was instrumental in securing over 15 million US Dollars for both the MEPI and the ECI last year. The ECI will over the next five years utilise the funds for medical training of health professionals in the management of HIV and TB.


In 2002 Professor Lalloo was at the helm of the successful 72 million US dollar grant from the Global Fund – a significant resource to fund HIV and TB care in KwaZulu-Natal. He leads one of the largest HIV graduate programmes in HIV which he developed and is funded by the Global Fund.


Recognised both nationally and internationally as an expert in the field of Respiratory and HIV Medicine he has played an integral role in the training of health care workers and the general public in HIV and TB management over many years. His appointment to the Board of Directors of the Medical Research Council of South Africa by the national Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, is testament to his outstanding leadership skills. He is currently the International Regent of the American College of Chest Physicians and was re-elected for a second three year term in 2010.


Professor Lalloo’s remarkable career began as a student i
author email : francism@ukzn.ac.za



Mr Kobus Moolman, a lecturer and writer in the English Department on the Howard College campus, has won the South African Literary Award (SALA) 2010 in the Poetry Category for his collection, Separating the Seas. The award was presented to him at a ceremony at the Gallagher Convention Centre.


Published by the UKZN Press, which has also published several other works by Mr Moolman, Separating the Seas was selected from scores of other published authors whose primary input is imaginative writing. The winning collection had to demonstrate good linguistic presentation, the nation's identity, societal values, cultural aesthetics, contribution to social cohesion and nation building, and transcendence of time.


Extracts of Mr Moolman’s collection will be published in the second edition of Band of Troubadours, which will be produced this year. Troubadour is the generic term for poets and minstrels who flourished in southern France and northern Italy from the 11th through the 13th centuries.


The main aim of the SALA is to pay tribute to South African writers who have distinguished themselves as groundbreaking producers and creators of literature. It celebrates literary excellence in the depiction and sharing of South Africa's histories, value systems, philosophies and art as inscribed and preserved in all the languages of South Africa.


Privileged to have been recognised with this award, Mr Moolman said: “Writers want to be read. Want to be heard. And so the honour of receiving an award like this is that it affirms one as a writer; it gives one energy and confidence to carry on.”


Separating the Seas
author email : memelal@ukzn.ac.za



Associate Scientific Director of the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) and Associate Professor in Public Health at UKZN Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim has been acknowledged as one of the top 10 Newsmakers of 2010 by The Mercury newspaper.


Professor Abdool Karim was the study principal investigator together with her husband, Professor Salim Abdool Karim, in the CAPRISA 004 trial where an important breakthrough for the prevention of HIV and genital herpes in women was achieved. The study which received world wide acclaim last year provides the first evidence that an antiretroviral drug used in a gel form – a microbicide – can reduce sexually transmitted infections of HIV and herpes in women.


The CAPRISA 004 trial involved 889 women at high risk of HIV infection at two sites in KwaZulu-Natal. The study’s results also concluded that the gel was 51 percent effective in preventing genital herpes.  The results of the ground-breaking safety and effectiveness study of the gel were reported by CAPRISA on July 20 at the XVIII International AIDS Conference in Vienna, Austria and simultaneously in Durban, and were published in the prestigious journal, Science. 


Professor Abdool Karim is internationally recognised for her scientific contributions to studies in HIV and AIDS. She is an infectious diseases epidemiologist whose main current research interests are in understanding the evolving HIV epidemic in South Africa and opportunities it provides to meeting the targets for the Health Millennium Development goals; factors influencing acquisition of HIV infection in adolescent girls; and sustainable strategies to introduce HAART in resource-constrained settings.


She is also an Associate Professor in Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health. Since 1998, she has played a central role in building the science base in southern Africa through the Columbia University - Southern African Fogarty AIDS International Training and Research Programme.   She is currently co-chair of the HIV Prevention Trials Network, a large NIH funded network that sets and undertakes key HIV prevention research globally, on the editorial board of several high impact scientific journals and is the Scientific Programme Committee Co-Chair for the International AIDS Conference to be held in Washington,  DC in 2012.  She is mother to two daughters Safura and Aisha and a son Wasim.

author email : online@ukzn.ac.za



A range of fascinating topics were discussed at a College of Health Sciences seminar hosted by Professor Tahir Pillay, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College. Guest speakers consisted of Dr Fierdoz Omar who is a chemical pathologist at Groote Schuur Hospital’s Division of Chemical Pathology (University of Cape Town and the National Health Laboratory Services - NHLS) and Dr David Haarburger currently employed as a chemical pathologist for the NHLS at Groote Schuur Hospital and Red Cross Memorial Children’s Hospital.


Dr Omar completed her undergraduate and postgraduate training at Stellenbosch University (1998) and the University of Cape Town (2009), respectively. Her MMed thesis involved the investigation of multimeric adiponectin in HIV-infected patients receiving HAART and her current interests include metabolic disease (obesity and diabetes) and cell free DNA analysis. In her presentation titled, Cell-Free DNA, Dr Omar outlined the key benefits of analysing cell-free DNA. The analysis of cell-free DNA is currently used as a non-invasive diagnostic tool to diagnose such disorders as foetal syndromes, melanoma, breast cancer, leukemia, prostate cancer, multiple myeloma and cardiomyopathy.


Dr Omar’s research found that cell-free DNA has the potential to assist as a tumour marker. Elevated levels of cell-free DNA have been found in patients with various types of cancer. This non-invasive tool can be used to assess the tumour burden and can be the first indication of cancer treatment progress. Studies have also indicated that larger masses have high levels of cell-free DNA.


“Foetal DNA in maternal blood is detectable from as early as five-six weeks of pregnancy and clears rapidly about two hours post-partem,” said Dr Omar. Hence, one is able to identify patients with pre-eclempsia, pre-term labour and foetal syndromes. Cell-free DNA is a non-invasive acute rejection marker in renal transplantation. Dr Omar concluded by stating that cell-free DNA presents due to various reasons, the most common due to damage of the blood-brain barrier.


Dr David Haarburger received his MBBCh at the University of the Witwatersrand in 2002 and his MMed from the University of Cape Town in 2010. His interests include the clinical use of proteomics and inherited metabolic diseases. Dr Haarburger presented on Androgens and androgen receptor and XY disorder of sexual differentiation. Dr Haarburger found through his research that the incidence of congenital conditions in the population was 2.2 for every 10 000 births. Congenital conditions refer to when chromosomal, gonadal and anatomical sex is atypical in patients.


INile Crocodile Research Project eyenziwa isikole se Biological and Conservation Science iphothule unyaka odlule ngenjabulo ngesikhathi bezitholela imoto abayinikezwe abakwa Mazda Wildlife Fund ezobasiza umabenza ucwaningo labo. Lemoto yakwa Mazda, evuselelwa njalo ngonyaka, ibolekwe uNjingalwazi Collen Downs nethimba lakhe labafundi ukuze benze umsebenzi wabo wokucwaninga ngezingwenya zase Nile endaweni yase Zululand ubelula.


INile Crocodile Research Project eyeyodwa kwawu 29 asizwa ilesisikhwama saka Mazda Wildlife esibhekelele ukugcina nokugada izilwane namahlathi ezwe lethu. Konke okufanele kwenziwe emotweni noma kulungiswe kuzokwenziwa abakwa Mazda. Kanti bazobuye babheke futhi ukuthi isasebenza ngendlela efanele.


UDouwns osanda kunikezwa umklomelo wokuba i-UKZN’s Top Published Women Researcher ka 2008, uhola lelithimba elibhekelele izidingo zezingwenya endaweni yaseSimangaliso Weltand Park. Baqale ngo 2009 ukucwaninga ngalezizingwenya ukuthi zidlani, zihlalaphi nalolonke olunye ulwazi abangalithola ukusiza lezizilwane. Lolulwazi luzosiza izindawo ekuhlala lezizilwane emhlabeni wonke ukuze zihlale zivikelekile.


Abafundi base UKZN abasebenza kulolucwaningo uXander Combrink, Pete Calverley,  Garreth Champion no Jon Warner. 

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author email : crookesv@ukzn.ac.za



The message at the launch of the inaugural FNB Varsity Shield Challenge at UKZN’s Peter Booysen Sports Park in Pietermaritzburg was “Back Your Boytjies.”  Developed as a second tier to the popular FNB Varsity Cup tournament which is in its fourth year, the FNB Varsity Shield will feature five universities competing for top position and the opportunity to play for a place in next year’s prestigious Varsity Cup.  The UKZN Impi team, along with teams representing the University of the Witwatersrand, Central University of Technology, University of the Western Cape and Fort Hare University, will vie for this top spot. 


All five teams were selected to play in the Varsity Shield by the South African Rugby Union, University Sports South Africa and Varsity Cup. They will receive financial sponsorship from First National Bank (FNB) as well as support from Steinhoff International, Carling Black Label and Spur.  The tournament will run at the same time as the Varsity Cup and at the end, a promotion/relegation match will take place between the bottom team in the Varsity Cup (“A-Section”) and the top team in the Varsity Shield (“B-Section”). The winner of this match will automatically qualify for a place in next year’s Varsity Cup challenge. 


UKZN has always enjoyed an active rugby culture and fields teams, representing its different campuses, in the different divisions of the KwaZulu-Natal Rugby League (KZNRU).   For the past few years the Institution has been knocking on the door to be included in the Varsity Cup.  But, according to Senior UKZN Sports Administrator, Mr Reggie Smith, until last year UKZN had never had one unified team representing all its campuses.   The UKZN Impi team, with the Pietermaritzburg campus club side forming its base (it plays in the highest division in the KZNRU League) is in a strong position to compete for a position in the prestigious Cup. 


Speaking at the launch, Managing Director of the Varsity Cup, Mr Duitser Bosman complemented UKZN on its pristine facilities and said that the University “brings a lot to the party.”  He attested to the power of sport and said that UKZN’s inclusion in the tournament would open up the Institution and Pietermaritzburg to South Africa.


Marketing Director of UKZN Impi, Mr Stu Berry said the all-new Varsity Shield, like the Varsity Cup, “is not just about great rugby, but about a lifestyle.”  It seeks to promote unity between all cultures and to provide entertainment for South Africans of all ages.  “We have a wonderful opportunity to market Pietermaritzburg and the Impi team to South Africa, and we certainly are aiming at ensuring that the UKZN Impi reach the playoff stages and challenge for a top spot in the Cup section,” said Mr Berry.  Supporters’ experiences wi
author email : crookesv@ukzn.ac.za



Over three days, a group of 11 grade eight learners from Gobindlovu Secondary school worked tirelessly to create digital stories about what they think and know about youth, HIV and AIDS, and their community. The Youth, HIV and AIDS and My Community project focused on learning how young people both experience and engage with the issue in a context where there are high rates of HIV and AIDS.


The project used digital storytelling – a participatory arts-based method – to explore this topic with the participants. Digital storytelling is both an educational and research method that combines photography, music, voice-over, and (in this case) Microsoft Power Point to create visual essays that tell a story from the perspective of the participants.


The workshop was sponsored by UKZN’s Centre for Visual Methodologies for Social Change and the NRF-funded Every Voice Counts project (PI Naydene de Lange).Two visiting graduate students from McGill University, Montreal, Canada, Ms Katie MacEntee and Mr Lukas Labacher, facilitated the workshop. The learners worked in three, single sex groups to produce three complete stories on the prompt “Youth, HIV and AIDS, and My Community”.


The boys told a story about a young, HIV positive learner who gets support from his community when his family abandoned him. One of the groups of girls reflected in their story on how, despite sexual desire, young people (males and females) can choose to abstain from sex when no condom is available. And the third group, also made up of girls, created a story which dealt with stigma in the community. In the story the community at first stigmatised and rejected a young girl who became pregnant and HIV positive as a result of having unprotected sex. In the end, the community, the girl’s mother, her boyfriend, and her peers came around to supporting her.


Two representatives from the workshop presented on the stories and their experiences over the three day workshop to their community during a larger event to mark World AIDS Day and the 16 Days of Activism Against Violence Against Women at Gobindlovu School on December 3. On stage with doctors, researchers, school principals, teachers, and community leaders, the youth held the attention of their peers and elders. This experience highlights the equal importance young people’s perspectives and knowledge have in addressing HIV and AIDS.
author email : cvm@ukzn.ac.za



It’s an annual event in the United Kingdom and is viewed as the most prestigious of the invited lectures in Geotechnics. In December, UKZN’s School of Civil Engineering had the pleasure of hosting the 50th Rankine Lecture presented by Professor Chris Clayton.


The lecture, Stiffness at Small Strain reviewed the current knowledge about “the complex stiffness behavior of soil and weak rocks in the context of what is, arguably, the simplest of constitutive behaviour, namely elasticity”.


According to Professor Clayton the rapid development of computing power and numerical modelling software over the past 40 years has made sophisticated analysis of geotechnical problems accessible to most engineering practices. Typically, computer packages now offer a wide range of constitutive models, which the design engineer needs to choose between, and then obtain parameters for.


For structures designed to be far from failure, for example supporting urban excavations, strains in the ground are small. A sound knowledge of stiffness parameters at small strain is essential if realistic predictions of the ground movements that may affect adjacent buildings or underlying infrastructure are to be made.


Professor Clayton is Professor of Infrastructure Engineering at the University of Southampton. He is currently the editor of Geotechnique, was the founding editor of Geotechnical Engineering, part of the Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers, and has been the Scientific Editor of the Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology. His leadership of research into small-strain stiffness, recently at Surrey University and now Southampton University, has inspired current research at UKZN and the University of Pretoria.


He has also served as the Chair of the British Geotechnical Society (now the BGA) between 1990 and 1993. He is the author of about 200 papers and books, including textbooks on Site Investigation and on Earth Pressure and Earth-retaining structures, and has contributed to five CIRIA reports, on the procurement of ground investigations,
author email : shabangus@ukzn.ac.za