DR. THUMBI NDUNG'U
DR. THUMBI NDUNG’U (BVM, PhD) is the Scientific Director of the HIV Pathogenesis Programme at the University of KwaZulu Natal in South Africa. He is a virologist with a PhD from Harvard University, Boston, USA. His main research interests are in host-virus interactions and immune responses in HIV-1 infection. He is also interested in the development of biomedical interventions that can be used in resource-limited settings to prevent or treat HIV/AIDS. He is an Associate Professor in HIV/AIDS Research at the the Doris Duke Medical Research Institute, Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal. He holds the South African Department of Science and Technology/National Research Foundation (DST/NRF) Research Chair in Systems Biology of HIV/AIDS.
He has previously been recognized by the University of KwaZulu-Natal Council with the Vice-Chancellor’s Research Award for exceptional research and research related scholarly activities, the Edgar Haber award (Harvard University) for outstanding doctoral thesis research and the Prince of Wales Fellowship (Harvard University). Prof. Ndung’u, his team and their collaborators are studying how certain individuals are able to resist HIV-1 infection despite evidence of persistent exposure and how certain HIV-1 infected people are able to achieve relative control of HIV-1 replication. Studies have focused on understanding antiviral immune responses, associated genetic factors, viral adaptation to immune pressure and HIV-1 mediated dysregulation of immune responses. The knowledge gained from studies of people able to resist or control HIV-1 may eventually be used to develop novel vaccines or therapies against HIV/AIDS. The laboratory emphasizes exploratory and translational research, training and leadership development of scientists and students to help tackle Africa’s public health problems.