Senior lecturer in the School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences at UKZN, Dr Veron Ramsuran, has been awarded the UK Royal Society Future Leaders – African Independent Research (FLAIR) Fellowship. In conjunction with the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) the Fellowship aims to produce Africa’s next generation of independent research leaders undertaking cutting-edge research that will address the global challenges facing the continent.
The Fellowships target talented African early career researchers with the potential to become leaders in their field and provide an opportunity to build an independent research career in an African institution. More than 2 000 applications were received across the world and 30 researchers, including Ramsuran, were selected as Fellows to conduct research in a sub-Saharan African institution. The FLAIR Fellowship offers £300 000 for two years as well as support, training, mentoring and opportunities to network both regionally and with the United Kingdom to develop international collaborations.
Ramsuran is a group research leader at the KwaZulu-Natal Research and Innovation Sequencing Platform (KRISP) and a senior lecturer in the School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences. He holds a PhD in Genetics from UKZN and spent the majority of his time during his doctoral research undergoing training in the United States. He was accepted for post-doctoral studies and engaged in cutting-edge research on HIV at the Ragon Institute of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University. He returned to South Africa to take up a Senior Lecturer position within UKZN’s Academic Acceleration Programme.
Ramsuran said that the FLAIR Fellowship will enable him to continue his research on HIV human genetics and to investigate which human genes cause people to progress to AIDS. This knowledge will be used to develop new treatment strategies. ‘I am extremely grateful to the UK Royal Society and the AAS for selecting me for this prestigious fellowship. I have confidence that we can conduct high quality science here in South Africa comparable to top international institutes. HIV is a major health concern for South Africa. With 7.1 million people … infected … we need to develop new strategies to end the epidemic,’ he said.
Words: Lihle Sosibo