South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC)
Building a healthy nation through research and innovation


Immunology of Infectious Disease Research Unit


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Prof. Frank BrombacherDirector: Prof. Frank Brombacher, Ph.D.

Infectious diseases continue to be a leading cause of childhood and adult morbidity and mortality in many parts of the world, and are devastating to the African population and economy, including South Africa, where they affects predominantly disadvantaged communities.

Effective vaccine development and eradication of human infectious diseases is a high priority for WHO and our country. Consequently, our Unit covers four of the top ten most devastating communicable diseases, declared by WHO and of high importance to the African continent, namely :

  1. tuberculosis;
  2. African Trypanosomiasis;
  3. leishmaniasis; and
  4. helminthic diseases (bilharziosis).

Taking advantage of sophisticated animal models for these human infectious diseases, i.e. world-wide unique condional gene deficient mouse strains, we are defining host factors important for protective immune responses in natural and acquired immunity to these diseases.

Our approach of studying independent infectious diseases comparatively allows us to define common immunological principles and mechanisms, generally important for immunity to infectious diseases. Recently, we integrated into our infectious disease models genome-wide expression analysis using microarray and Cap Analysis of Gene Expression (CAGE) in conjunction with next generation sequenzing. This Systembiology approach allows for rapid identification of potential host protective genes and pathogen evasion targets.

A better and deeper understanding of these immune mechanisms will facilitate effective vaccine development to achieve immunity for our population, as well as drug development for effective and cheap patient therapy.

Our mission is to be relevant as an excellent multidisciplinary and international team, embracing basic and applied research, in order to improve capacity, teaching and training in the immunology of infectious diseases.

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Last updated:
29 February, 2016
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