Professor/Director Centre for Viral Zoonoses/ DST-NRF South African Research Chair, University of Pretoria

Prof. Wanda Markotter is the Director of the Centre for Viral Zoonoses, Department of Medical Virology, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria and since January 2016 she is also occupying a DST-NRF South African Research Chair in “Infectious Diseases of Animals (Zoonoses)”. My research focus was originally limited to the epidemiology and pathogenicity of rabies and rabies-related lyssaviruses unique to the African continent but, originating from my interest in bat lyssaviruses, the programme expanded and now include surveillance for other known and novel zoonotic pathogens from bat species in several African countries including South Africa. Targeted surveillance for lyssa, corona, paramyxo, filoviruses, selected bacterial pathogens and pathogen discovery technology are employed to detect the diversity occurring in bat species. Efforts also include the development of diagnostic techniques focusing on the African region’s diversity and also technology that can be used in low resource settings. Detection of pathogens is just the first step and to understand risk of spillover to other animals and humans, a multidisciplinary approach focusing on disease ecology that investigate host-pathogen interactions within the context of their environment and studying presence and transmission over space and time were implemented. Research include regular fieldwork in South Africa and other African countries. Pathogenicity of selected zoonotic viruses under experimental conditions in the natural host in high bio-containment facilities are performed to also understand the possible routes of transmission. We have detected several potential zoonotic pathogens in bats and collected data on host ecology, environmental factors and pathogen presence that can now be analysed and modelled to determine ecological and host factors that may lead to spillover. My research outputs include more than 70 peer-reviewed research papers and several book chapters.

Experience

  • –present
    Professor/Director Centre for Viral Zoonoses/ DST-NRF South African Research Chair, University of Pretoria