Two Fellowships were awarded in 2004, jointly to Professors Frank Brombacher and Igor Barashenkov of the University of Cape Town.
Professor Frank Brombacher trained as a molecular biologist in bacterial genetics at the University of Freiburg and obtained his PhD in 1989 as a member of the group of Nobel Laureate Professor Georges Koehler at the Max Planck Institute for Immunobiology. He joined UCT in 1998 as Group Leader of the Infectious Disease Unit and assumed the role of Head of the Division of Immunology in 2000. An A rated scientist, Brombacher currently serves as a Director of the Medical Research Unit of the Medical Research Council and Co-ordinator of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology and holds a South African Research Chair (SARCHi) in Immunology of Infectious Diseases in Africa.
Through his work on transgenic and gene deficient mouse models, he has investigated central mechanisms in tolerance, immunity, vaccination and drug therapy, the results of which have been published in many prestigious journals including Nature, Science, Nature Medicine and Immunity. For the past few years, Professor Brombacher has devoted his research efforts to investigate host protective mechanisms in diseases such as sleeping sickness, bilharzia, tuberculosis and leishmaniasis, four of the top ten diseases prioritised by the WHO.
Said Brombacher on receiving the Fellowship “The Award is a rare and special opportunity that does not exist in many countries, affording recognition for scientific work and, through its generosity, freeing scientists from their normal living and working contexts to advance their thinking. As an immunologist, I ask “Why do we get sick or keep healthy? What are the decisive immunological mechanisms and switches? How can we use them for our benefit? The Award has been given to me to develop animal models to identify and evaluate genes and gene products for drug candidates. It will allow me to visit and work in laboratories overseas, notably the specialist Zurich-based Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, giving me the opportunity to familiarise myself with new developments and select which to use in my own laboratory at UCT.”