Ntombi wins prestigious DST Fellowship

Posted on August 17, 2016

Ntombi Gama, a PhD student at the University of Pretoria (UP) was recently awarded a prestigious fellowship from the Department of Science and Technology (DST) at the 2016 Women in Science Awards (WISA) ceremony. Her PhD studies focuses on HIV and opportunistic diseases such as Tuberculosis (TB) and cervical cancer.

The DST annually hosts this ceremony in order to reward excellent female scientists and researchers, and to encourage younger women to follow in their footsteps.

Ntombi completed a BSc, a BSc (Hons) and an MSc in Biochemistry in the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at UP and is a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society. She also holds membership of the Biochemical and the SA HIV Clinicians Society.

According to Ntombi, it feels amazing to be recognised, but it is also a challenge because she still needs to go out into the community to let young people know that there is science and that there are careers besides teaching, being a lawyer or a policeman. 'If a kid like me, who came from a township could go to varsity and be successful, then what is stopping you? The school you come from does not change anything. It is all about what you believe in,' she says.

She elaborated further by explaining that South Africa is still one of the highest HIV infected and affected countries in the world, with an estimated one in five South African women of reproductive age being HIV positive (Statistics South Africa, Mid-year population estimates, 2015). Although treatment - commonly known as anti-retroviral therapy (ARV) - is available, these drugs are associated with some unbearable side-effects and there is still large scale non-compliance by the patients with using the drugs. In addition to that, there is still the issue of the co-infection of patients with other diseases such as TB and cancers which are largely prevalent in communities. These further complicate treatment strategies. Based on this, research is now moving towards the development of drugs that are less toxic, but more effective against HIV, as well as associated opportunistic diseases.'

Click on the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ajr0J-UP2k for a glimpse of the event.

Acknowledgement: SABC


- Author Martie Meyer

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