African Leadership in Vaccinology Expertise (ALIVE)

The Wits African Leadership in Vaccinology Expertise (ALIVE) is a vaccinology flagship programme of the University of the Witwatersrand addressing the need for increasing vaccinology research capacity in the African region, and will offer new opportunities for authoritative global research leadership. ALIVE is a university-wide partnership of internationally recognised scientists with a breadth of expertise across the discipline of vaccinology and over time will integrate both Wits and external scientists with an emerging interest in this field.

ALIVE’s mission is to create African leadership in vaccinology research and advocacy to significantly reduce vaccine preventable diseases. In practice this means that ALIVE, as an African/South African vaccine and immunisation research initiative, will develop a new cadre of African leadership and scientists aimed at development of new vaccines and at the introduction of new and existing vaccines into strengthened, effective immunisation programmes, with the goal of significantly reducing vaccine preventable diseases (VPDs) over the next 15 years. ALIVE’s objectives will be driven by rigorous basic science, clinical science, implementation science, public health, economic and social/behavioural science agendas. The research will focus on children, under- and un-immunized populations, HIV infected populations, HIV-exposed uninfected children, pregnant women, adolescents and the elderly. ALIVE developed and initiated (in 2019) a Masters in Science (Med) in the field of vaccinology courseto build capacity and strengthen African research, establishing Wits as a leading vaccinology institution. Alive also runs a biennial 10-day short course in advanced vaccinology (Afro-ADVAC).


  • Create new opportunities for African global research leadership and advocacy
  • Build capacity in African vaccinology research
  • Connect and expand an African network of vaccinology researchers


  • Professor Helen Rees, Co-Director
  • Professor Shabir Madhi, Co-Director
  • Dr Clare Cutland, Scientific coordinator


  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and National Research Foundation

Partners and Collaborators

Basic Science

  • Professor Bavesh Kana, Reader, Early Career Scientist of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Head of the DST/NRF Centre of Excellence for Biomedical TB Research (CBTBR) Centre, University of the Witwatersrand and National Health Laboratory Service
  • Professor Lynn Morris, Chief Specialist Scientist and HIV Virology Section Lead in the Centre for HIV and STIs of the NHLS, Co-Director, HIV Vaccine Discovery Unit
  • Professor Penny Moore, Wellcome Trust Fellow at the NICD, and a Reader at the University of the Witwatersrand, Co-Director, HIV Vaccine Discovery Unit
  • Professor Michèle Ramsay, Professor in the Division of Human Genetics, National Health Laboratory Service and University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) and Head of the Sydney Brenner Institute
  • Dr Melinda Suchard, Head: Centre for Vaccines and Immunology, NICD and Associate Lecturer, Molecular Medicine and Haematology, University of the Witwatersrand
  • Professor Caroline Tiemessen, Centre of HIV & STI; DST/NRF Chair in HIV Vaccine Translational Research, NICD
  • Professor Maria Papathanasopoulos, Director: HIV Pathogenesis Research Unit; Co-director: Genotyping Laboratory, Department of Molecular Medicine and Haematology

Clinical Science

  • Dr Clare Cutland, Senior Medical Research Officer, with expertise in clinical trials, RMPRU
  • Dr Lee Fairlie, Paediatrician specialising in HIV/TB clinical trials, Senior Researcher, Wits RHI
  • Dr Michelle Groome, Senior Clinical Researcher and medical epidemiologist/vaccinologist, RMPRU
  • Dr Marta Nunes, Senior Scientist, RMPRU
  • Dr Neil Martinson, Director, Peri natal Research Unit (PHRU), University of Wits

Implementation Science, Modelling, Cost Effectiveness, and Social & Behavioural Research

  • Professor Sinead Delany-Moretlwe, Clinical Epidemiologist, Head of Postgraduate Studies, Wits RHI
  • Dr Saiqa Mullick, Clinical Epidemiologist, Director: Implementation Science, Wits RHI
  • Professor Clare Penn, Director, Health Communication Research Unit, University of Wits
  • Professor Jennifer Watermeyer, Deputy Director of the Health Communication Research Unit, Wits University
  • Dr Jonathan Stadler, Medical Anthropologist, Wits RHI
  • Professor Karen Hofman, PRICELESS, Wits School of Public Health

Stay up to date

Get updates on news, resources, events and happenings from Wits RHI.