Dr Henriette van Heerden

Department of Veterinary Tropical Diseases

[email protected]


Zoonoses and Vaccine Development

Henriette van Heerden (née Britz) was born in Bloemfontein and completed her undergraduate and postgraduate studies to masters level at the University of the Free State. In 2001 she obtained a PhD with a thesis entitled “Fusarium subglutinans f. sp. pini, a taxonomic, molecular and population study” at the University of Pretoria (UP).  

In January 2000, she joined the ARC-Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute and worked on the Heartwater program that completed the sequencing of the entire 1.51 Mb genome of Ehrlichia ruminantium that was published in a highly ISI accredited journals (PNAS (2005) 102: 838-843).  This was the first genome sequencing project of any cellular organism from Africa and an incredible achievement. 

In October 2003 she started her academic career in the department of Biochemistry at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) in plant pathogen interaction and was involved in 3 Ph.D. and 2 M. Sc students. 
She was offered a position at the Department of Veterinary Tropical Diseases (DVTD) at UP in January 2008 and establish research projects in zoonotic diseases, primarily focusing on anthrax and brucellosis.  These projects involve molecular characterization of anthrax and brucellosis as well as vaccine development project investigating the immunogenicity and protectivity of a live spore Bacillus anthracis vaccine vs. recombinant peptide and DNA vaccine in goats in collaboration with the University of Hohenheim, Germany.

To date, 5 MSc and 3 PhD candidates completed their degrees, with 6 MSc and 2 PhD candidates currently enrolled under her supervision.


IRT-related research

Projects investigating the molecular and environmental epidemiology of anthrax in South Africa; studies on the fate of Bacillus anthracis in environmental habitats and within insect vectors and studies in laboratory rodents and goats to compare the immunogenicity, protective efficacy, and safety of recombinant peptide and DNA vaccine candidates with those of the live spore vaccine licensed in these countries.  Molecular characterization of anthrax and brucellosis in southern Africa forms part of these projects.

Key Publications

Gomo, C., Musari, S., de Garine-Wichatitsky, M., Caron, A., Pfukenyi, D.M., van Heerden, H. (2012). Detection of Brucella abortus in Chiredzi district in Zimbabwe.  Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Research 79. doi: 10.4102/ojvr.v79i1.417.


Phillips, S. M., Dubery, I. A., van Heerden, H. (2013).  Identification and molecular characterisation of a lectin receptor-like kinase (GhlecRF-2) from cotton.  Plant Molecular Biology Reporter 31: 9-20..

Esterhuizen, L.L.,  Mabasa, K.G., van Heerden, S.W., Czosnek, H., Brown, J.K., van Heerden, H., Rey, M.E.C. (2013).  Genetic identification of members of the Bemisia tabaci cryptic species complex from South Africa. Journal of Applied Entomology 137: 122-135.


Published by Grant Christie

Copyright © University of Pretoria 2020. All rights reserved.

FAQ's Email Us Virtual Campus Share