Dr Emily Wong is a physician-scientist whose work focuses on trying to understand the impact of HIV infection on TB pathogenesis, immunity and epidemiology. To address these questions she uses a range of techniques that span molecular to population science. She is a member of the resident faculty of the Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI) in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa and an Assistant Professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Alabama, Birmingham.
Emily specialises in establishing unique human cohorts to address fundamental questions about human infectious disease and immune responses. In collaboration with the Department of Pulmonology at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital, Emily established Phefumula, a research bronchoscopy cohort that allows comparative study of immune cells from the mucosal surface of the lung and the peripheral blood of people with well-defined states of HIV and TB. She is one of the co-Primary Investigators of Vukuzazi, AHRI’s population-based study that links the longstanding demographic surveillance population to next-generation science. Designed to shed light on genetic and acquired drivers of health and disease, Vukuzazi defines deep human phenotypes using community-based health screening for HIV, TB and non-communicable diseases and collects biosamples to support genomic and transcriptomic study in the uMkhanyakude district of KwaZulu-Natal. Vukuzazi launched in May 2018 and to date has enrolled over 18 000 participants.