HPP Celebrates Seven Graduates of UKZN

HPP Celebrates Seven Graduates of UKZN

Apr 18

On Monday, April 16, 2012, the HIV Pathogenesis Programme (HPP) at Doris Duke Medical Research Institute (DDMRI), part of the Nelson Mandela Medical School, University of KwaZulu Natal (UKZN) graduated 7 students– 5 PhDs and 2 Masters. It was a day of joyful celebration and great pride for everyone involved.


The partnership between Ragon and HPP began in 2002 when Ragon Institute Director, Dr. Bruce Walker received funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation for the establishment of a medical research facility in South Africa specifically focused on HIV research. This facility soon came to house the HPP program. HPP students are actively mentored by faculty at the Ragon Institute, spending time in Ragon Institute labs, learning techniques and technologies as well as receiving scientific input.


The seven graduating HPP students are:



Jaclyn K. Wright, PhD
Study title: Impact of Immune-Driven Sequence Variation in HIV-1 Subtype C Gag-Protease on Viral Fitness and Disease Progression


Christina Thobakgale, PhD
Study title: HIV specific CD8+ T cell responses in infants enrolled on a study of early highly active antiretroviral treatment (HAART) and supervised treatment interruption (STI)


Derseree Archary, PhD
Study title: Neutralizing antibody responses and viral evolution in a longitudinal cohort of HIV subtype C infected antiretroviral-naïve individuals


Paradise Madlala, PhD ( Pietermaritzburg)
Study title: Association of Genetic Polymorphisms in Select HIV-1 Replication Cofactors with Susceptibility to HIV-1 Infection and Disease Progression



Bongiwe Ndlovu, Master of Medical Science
Study title: Innate Immune Mechanisms in Limiting HIV-1 tran

smission among South African Mother-Infant Pairs


Shivan Chetty, Master of Medical Science
Study title: Characterisation of the effects of IL-10 pathway on immunity in TB-HIV co-infected individuals



Pictured L-R: Christina Thobakgale, Danni Ramduth, Thumbi Ndung'u, Paradise Madlala, Derseree Archary, and Jaclyn Wright

Pictured L-R: Christina Thobakgale, Danni Ramduth, Thumbi Ndung’u, Paradise Madlala, Derseree Archary, and Jaclyn Wright

All the graduating students have had at least one paper published in a international peer-reviewed journal. download publication list (pdf)


Professor Thumbi Ndung’u, HPP Scientific Director noted that some of the students had to overcome tremendous challenges to reach this point, making this graduation “a truly great achievement that we should all be proud of.”


The graduation of these seven students is not only an achievement for them but also for HPP which is quickly becoming a world-class research facility producing scientists of the highest caliber.


The Ragon institute is looking forward to continuing the successful collaborative research program with the HPP and is fully committed to fostering and expanding the successful bidirectional scientific and educational exchange with its sister site in the coming years.