UCT has a strong track record in immunology and aims to become the centre of immunology research in Africa. Students come from all over Africa and, indeed, the world and most of the research projects are internationally collaborative which is essential for meaningful research. There is a great deal of fluidity – with staff regularly going for training in partner laboratories and overseas scientists visiting the division.
The division primarily looks at the host-immune response against pathogens including HIV, fungi, mycobacteria, protozoa and helminths. The unifying theme to the various research groups is to understand immune function in different disease states that can inform clinical and therapeutic strategies, which can then be applied to clinical settings.
The range of research specialties in the division cover important diseases particularly relevant to Africa: HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Leishmaniasis, Listeria and Helminths. These infections cause high morbidity and mortality in humans.
To understand basic mechanisms, the use of genetically engineered transgenic mouse models can uncover and investigate the genes, factors and cells beneficial or detrimental to disease outcome. This approach supports the long-term goal of safe and cost-effective drug and vaccination strategies.