K-RITH Student Receives Prize for Conference Research Paper

K-RITH Student Receives Prize for Conference Research Paper

Jun 12

K-RITH sponsored student, Ngomu Akeem Akilimali received 2nd Prize for the Best Research Paper Presentation awarded by Discovery at the 3rd National TB Conference held in Durban June 2012.


His talk focused on how the HIV-induced upregulation of Leukocyte Immunoglobulin (Ig)-Like Receptors (LILRs) is abrogated in individuals co-infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb). Much research has been performed on the action of LILRs in the areas of transplantation, cancers and allergies, but to date there is no data on LILR expression in Mtb infection and Mtb/HIV co-infection. Akeem’s research shows that LILRs are expressed on immune cells important in the Mtb immune response, and while HIV infection is linked to increased levels of expression, this is reduced in Mtb infection and Mtb/HIV coinfection.


Akeem applauded the fact that the Conference provided an opportunity for young scientists to present. He felt that his own talk had been well received and was pleased with the responses he got and said that the audience had asked good questions. “I love Science.” He said. “It was my dream from when I was a kid. I enjoy what I do.”


Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Akeem and his family immigrated to South Africa in 2002. Here he has pursued a rigorous University Education despite speaking almost no English when he arrived. He has just submitted his Masters degree at UKZN having worked in the laboratory of the HIV Pathogenesis Programme under the supervision of K-RITH Education and Training Director, Dr. Victoria Kasprowicz.