Michael Pepper is Director of the Institute for Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Director of the South African Medical Research Council Extramural Unit for Stem Cell Research and Therapy, and Research Professor in the Department of Immunology in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Pretoria. He is also professeur associé in the Department of Genetic Medicine and Development in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Geneva, Switzerland.
Michael was born in Bloemfontein in South Africa and attended Pretoria Boy’s High School. He obtained his MBChB in 1982 from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Cape Town, and moved to Geneva in 1986, where he obtained his PhD in 1990, MD in 1992 and Privat Docent in 1997. He returned to South Africa in July 2004. Michael maintains research and teaching commitments in Pretoria and Geneva.
Michael has worked extensively in the field of clinically-oriented (translational) molecular cell biology and has made seminal contributions to understanding the mechanisms of angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis. His current scientific interests are in the fields of cell and gene therapy and the human genome as well as the ethical, legal and social implications (ELSI) of work in these fields. He directs the projects of several post-graduate (BSc (Hons), MSc and PhD) and post-doctoral students.
Michael led a consensus study for the Academy of Science of South Africa entitled “Human Genetics and Genomics in South Africa: Ethical, Legal and Social Implications” which was launched in December 2018, and is currently leading a project on the ELSI of gene therapy (including gene editing) in South Africa. He is President and Chairman of the Board of the South African Tissue Bank Association. Michael is co-responsible, together with Prof. Michele Ramsay, for co-ordinating the Southern African Human Genome Programme which was launched in January 2011. He has also been working with the Department of Health on legislation pertaining to Chapter 8 of the National Health Act and regulations thereto since mid-2009. Michael was previously a member of the National Advisory Committee on Innovation (Project leader: “Bioeconomy Policies and Strategies”) which advises the Minister of Science and Technology, and was Chairperson of the National Biotech Advisory Committee.
Michael has more than 300 medical and scientific publications with and H-Index of 72/83 (Scopus/Google Scholar). He is a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa and has received a number of awards for his research, including the South African Health Excellence Award for Scientific Excellence in 2019. Michael has been extensively involved in teaching at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, and has lectured widely on the international circuit. He is frequently solicited as a peer reviewer, and is currently on the editorial boards of Lymphatic Research and Biology and The Journal of Medical Law and Ethics (having previously been on the editorial boards of Arteriosclerosis Thrombosis & Vascular Biology, The Angiogenesis Journal and Applied and Translational Genomics). He interacts frequently with the media and writes for the lay press on scientific and medical matters.
Michael is a member of the Human Genome Organization, the Southern African Society of Human Genetics, the African Society of Human Genetics, the South African Tissue Bank Association, the International Society for Cell and Gene Therapy, the World Marrow Donor Association and the South African Stem Cell Transplantation Society. He was on the European Vascular Biology Association EXCOM from 1993-2004.
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