Professor Michael Pepper

Department of Immunology and Institute for Cellular and Molecular Medicine; SAMRC Extramural Unit for Stem Cell Research and Therapy

[email protected]


Human Genome Research

Michael Pepper is Director of the Institute for Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Director of the SAMRC Extramural Unit for Stem Cell Research and Therapy and a 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. 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 and MD in 1992. In 1997 he obtained his Habilitation and had the title Privat Docent conferred on him. He returned to South Africa in July 2004.


Michael has worked extensively in the field of clinically-oriented (translational) molecular cell biology, and his current interest include stem cells and the human genome. He is co-responsible for the Southern African Human Genome Programme which was launched in January 2011. Michael leads a national team whict assists the National Department of Health with legislation concerning human tissues. He is President and Chairman of the Board of the South African Tissue Bank Association. Michael was until recently a member of the National Advisory Committee on Innovation which advises the Minister of Science and Technology, and has developed a 5-day continuing education course in bioentrepreneurship which is now in its 7th year.


Michael has > 220 medical and scientific publications with an H-index of 67, and has received a number of awards for his research. He has been extensively involved in teaching at undergraduate and postgraduate levels and is frequently solicited as a speaker at local and international meetings. He interacts regularly with the media and writes for the lay press on medical and scientific matters.


GRI-related research projects

Michael Pepper is co-responsible for the Southern African Human Genome Programme, launched in January 2011. He also supervises a number of smaller genome-related projects, including next generation sequencing HLA genotyping, CYP450 pharmacogenetics, CCR5 diversity and the role of MC4R in obesity in the South African population.



Original Publications (peer review journals)

Tille J.C., Morris M.A., Bründler M.A and Pepper M.S. Familial predisposition to tufted angioma – identification of blood and lymphatic vascular components. Clin. Genet. 63: 393-399 (2003).

Slabbert M.N. and Pepper M.S. “A room of our own?” Legal lacunae regarding genomic sovereignty in South Africa. Tydskrif vir Hedendaagse Romeins-Hollandse Reg (J. Contemporary South African Roman-Dutch Law) 73: 432-450 (2010).

Dodgen T.M., Cromarty A.D. and Pepper M.S. Quantitative plasma analysis using automated online solid-phase extraction with column switching LC-MS/MS for characterising cytochrome P450 2D6 and 2C19 metabolism. J. Separation Science. 34: 1102-1110 (2011).

de Vries J., Slabbert M.N. and Pepper M.S. Ethical, legal and social issues in the context of the planning stages of the Southern African Human Genome Programme. Med. Law J. 31:119-152 (2012).

de Vries J. and Pepper M. Genomic sovereignty and the African promise: mining the African genome for the benefit of Africa. J. Med. Ethics 38: 474-478 (2012).

Dodgen T.M., Hochfeld W.E., Fickl H., Asfaha S.M., Durandt C., Rheeder P., Drögemöller B.I., Wright G.E.B., Warnich L., Labuschagne D. de J., van Schalkwyk A., Gaedigk A. and Pepper M.S. Introduction of the AmpliChip CYP450 Test to a South African cohort: a platform comparative prospective cohort study. BMC Med. Genet. 14:20 (2013).

Barmania F., Potgieter M. and Pepper M.S. Mutations in C-C chemokine receptor type five (CCR5) in South African individuals. Int. J. Infect. Dis. 17: e1148–e1153 (2013).

Myburgh R., Ivic S., Pepper M.S, Gers-Huber G., Li D., Audigé A., Rochat M.A, Jaquet V., Regenass S., Manz M.G, Salmon P., Krause K.H and Speck R.F. Lentivector knock-down of CCR5 in hematopoietic stem cells confers functional and persistent HIV-resistance in humanized mice. J. Virol. 89: 6761-6772 (2015).

Dodgen T.M., Eloff A., Mataboge C., Roos J.L., van Staden C.W. and Pepper M.S. Relationship between risperidone-associated adverse drug reactions and CYP2D6 polymorphisms in the South African population: a pilot study. Appl. Translational Genomics. In press (2015).

Dodgen T.M., Drögemöller B.I., Wright G.E.B, Warnich L., Steffens F.E, Cromarty A.D, Alessandrini M. and Pepper M.S. Evaluation of predictive CYP2C19 genotyping assays relative to measured phenotype in a South African cohort. Pharmagogenomics. In press (2015).

Mellet J., Gray C.M. and Pepper M.S. Conventional HLA typing techniques vs. next generation sequencing in a South African cohort. S. Afr. Med. J. In press (2015).

Dodgen T.M., Labuschagne C. de J., van Schalkwyk A., Fickl H., Steffens F.E., Gaedigk A., Cromarty A.D. and Pepper M.S. Pharmacogenetic comparison of CYP2D6 predictive and measured phenotypes in a South African cohort. Pharmacogenomics J. In press (2015)

Logan M., van der Merwe M.T., Dodgen T., Myburg R., Eloff A., Rheeder P. And Pepper M.S. Melanocortin 4 receptor (MC4R) polymorphisms in a South African study group. Mol. Genet. Genomic Med. In press (2015)


Review articles and editorials (peer review journals)

Tille J.-C. and Pepper M.S. Hereditary vascular anomalies: new insights into their pathogenesis. Arterioscl. Thromb. Vasc. Biol. 24: 1578-1590 (2004).

Pepper M.S. Polymorphisms in the endothelial nitric oxide synthase gene and the tendency for aneurysm rupture. J. Neurosurg. 102: 433 (2005).

Pepper M.S. and van der Merwe M.T. The genetics of obesity. S. Afr. Cardiol. Stroke J. Spring: 48,50 (2007).

Logan M.G. and Pepper M.S. The genetics of obesity: the role of the melanocortin 4 receptor. J. Endocrinol. Metab. Diabetes S. Afr. 15: 45-47 (2010).

Pepper M.S. The human genome and molecular medicine: promises and pitfalls. S. Afr. Med. J. 100:722-724 (2010).

Pepper M.S. Launch of the Southern African Human Genome Programme. S. Afr. Med. J. 101: 287-288 (2011)

Warnich L., Drögemöller B.I., Pepper M.S., Dandara C and Wright G.E.B. Pharmacogenomic research in South Africa: lessons learned and future opportunities in the rainbow nation. Curr. Pharmacogenomics Personalized Med.9: 191-207 (2011).

Myburgh R., Hochfeld W.E., Dodgen T.M., Ker J. and Pepper M.S.

Cardiovascular pharmacogenetics. Pharmacol. Therapeut. 133: 280-290 (2012).

Barash C.I. and Pepper M.S. Editorial: Special issue pharmacogenomics & personalized medicine. Appl. Translational Genomics. 2: 1-2 (2013).

Barmania F. and Pepper M.S. C-C chemokine receptor-5 (CCR5): an emerging target for the control of HIV infection. Appl. Translational Genomics. 2: 3-16 (2013).

Alessandrini M., Asfaha S.M., Dodgen T.M., Warnich L. and Pepper M.S. CYP450 pharmacogenetics in African populations. Drug Metab. Rev. 45: 253-75 (2013).

Alessandrini M. and Pepper M.S. Priority pharmacogenetics for the African continent:  focus on cytochrome P450. Pharmacogenomics 15:385-400 (2014)

Čolić A., Alessandrini M. and Pepper M.S. Pharmacogenetics of CYP2B6, CYP2A6, and UGT2B7 in HIV treatment in African populations: focus on efavirenz and nevirapine. Drug Metabolism Rev.13: 1-13 (2014)

van der Westhuizen F.H., Sinxadi P., Dandara C., Smuts I., Riordan G., Meldau S., Malik A., Sweeney M., Tsai Y., Towers W., Louw R., Gorman G., Payne B., Soodyall H., Pepper M.S. and Elson J. Understanding the implications of mitochondrial DNA variation in the health of black southern African populations: the 2014 Workshop. Human mutation. 36: 569-571 (2015)

Tshabalala M., Mellet J. and Pepper M.S. Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) diversity: a southern African perspective. J. Immunol. Res. In press (2015)

Chira S., Jackson C.S., Oprea I., Ozturk F., Pepper M.S., Diaconu I., Braicu C., Calin G., Berindan-Neagoe I. Progress towards safe and efficient gene therapy vectors. Oncotarget. In press (2015)

Stewart C. Pepper M.S. Cystic fibrosis on the African continent. Genet. Med.

In press (2015)

Meldau S., Riordan G., van der Westhuizen F., Elson J.L, Smuts I., Pepper M.S and Soodyall H. Could we offer mitochondrial donation or similar assisted reproductive technology to South African patients with mitochondrial DNA disease? S. Afr. Med. J. In press (2015).



Chapters in Books

Durandt C., Asfaha S.M. and Pepper M.S. Pharmacogenetics. In: Molecular Medicine for Clinicians. B. Mendelow, M. Ramsay, N. Chetty and W. Stevens Eds. Wits University Press (Johannesburg). 433-437, 2009.

Hochfeld W.E, Asfaha S.M., Alessandrini M., Dodgen T.M., Myburgh M., Eloff A. and Pepper M.S. Pharmacogenetics and pharmacogenomics in the developing world. In: Genomics and Health in the Developing World. D. Kumar Ed. Oxford University Press (New York): 168-191, 2011.



Published by Alacia Armstrong

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