Local Organising Committee

Charles N. Rotimi, Ph.D.

National Human Genome Research Institute, NIH

  • Co-Chair of the Conference Organising Committee
  • Founder of the African Society of Human Genetics
  • Chief & Senior Investigator
  • Metabolic, Cardiovascular and Inflammatory Disease Genomics Branch
  • Director: Intramural Unit – National Human Genome Research Institute

Raj Ramesar

University of Cape Town

Professor Raj Ramesar is Head of the Division of Human Genetics and Director of the MRC Research Unit for Genomic and Precision Medicine. He is also Head of the Department of Pathology at the University of Cape Town and its Affiliated Hospitals (Groote Schuur and Red Cross Childrens Hospitals).

His work as Director of CANSA’s National Colorectal Cancer Research Consortium in South Africa , involved translating sophisticated molecular genetic research for application to rural and indigenous communities. Ramesar was recently awarded the UCT Vice-Chancellor’s Alan Pifer Award (2009) for his research in this regard. His current interest is in investigating the genetics of complex chronic disorders, and weaving genomic information with that of human origins, diversity and health. The current emphasis is on the genetics of sensory disorders (blindness), cancers and psychiatric genetics. He currently serves on the Executive of the African Society for Human Genetics, the International Federation of Human Genetic Societies, and on the editorial board of several international journals.


Colleen Aldous

University of Kwazulu-Natal

Mike Urban

Stellenbosch University

Karen Fieggen

Marketing & Promotions
University of Cape Town

Nadia Carstens

Sponsorship & Exhibition
University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

Scott Williams

Case Western Reserve University

Leon Mutesa

College of Medicine and Health Sciences
University of Rwanda

Rokhaya Ndaiye

Cheikh Anta Diop University, Dakar

Ghada El-Kamah

National Research Centre, Cairo

Mohamed Zahir

University Medical Center Groningen,
University of Groningen

Vicky Nembaware

University of Cape Town

Soraya Bardien

President of the Southern African Society of Human Genetics
Department of Molecular Biology and Human Genetics
University of Stellenbosch

Soraya Bardien has a PhD in human molecular genetics from the University of Cape Town, South Africa. She is currently employed as an Associate Professor at Stellenbosch University, and her main research interest is on the molecular etiology of the neurological disorder, Parkinson’s disease. She has over 19 years of experience of working on various human inherited disorders, has several years of mentoring experience, has participated in large collaborative projects together with clinicians and basic scientists, and has been a member of and in leadership roles in a number of professional organizations.

She has published over 60 research articles in various peer-reviewed scientific journals, has written an invited chapter in the book entitled Parkinson’s disease, 2nd edition, 2013 (Editors: Pfeiffer, Wszolek, and Ebadi) and is a co-author of one patent. She currently serves as the Chair of the Southern African Society for Human Genetics, is a committee member of the African Society of Human Genetics and has served as a sub-editor of the Third World Academy of Sciences’ Africa Journal of Science and Technology. Furthermore, her research group is an active member of the international Parkinson’s disease consortium GEoPD (http://www.geopd.org/).

Throughout her academic career, she has been awarded a number of prestigious awards, travel grants and research grants. In 2018, as a testament to her research achievements she was awarded the second runner-up position in the Department of Science and Technology’s South African Women in Science Awards (SAWiSA).

Michèle Ramsay

Chair: ISPC
President: International Federation of Human Genetics Societies

University of the Witwatersrand

Professor Michele Ramsay is President of the African Society of Human Genetics and President of the International Federation of Human Genetics Societies, and is based at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Michèle Ramsay obtained her PhD in Human Molecular Genetics from the University of the Witwatersrand and is currently the head of the Molecular Genetics Laboratory (service and research) in the Division of Human Genetics at the National Health Laboratory Service. She holds a joint appointment as Professor at the University of the Witwatersrand. Michèle teaches medical students and supervises MSc and PhD students and is joint editor and author of a textbook, “Molecular Medicine for Clinicians” (Wits University Press 2009). She is the Chair of the Wits Bioinformatics Steering Group and joint champion of a cross-faculty Research Thrust, “Molecular Biosciences: Health for Africa”, which focuses on an understanding of the molecular basis of health and disease in Africans. Since 1984, she has published over 100 papers in peer reviewed journals and many book chapters on the genetic basis of single gene disorders and more recently complex diseases.

Research interests
Her research interests include the genetic basis and molecular epidemiology of single gene disorders in South African populations and the role of genetic and epigenetic variation in the molecular aetiology of foetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) and other diseases exacerbated by adverse lifestyle choices. The FASD research includes the use of a mouse model to investigate alcohol induced epigenetic remodelling as a mechanism of teratogenesis. Her other research interests include cystic fibrosis in the black African population, pseudoxanthoma elasticum (PXE), lipoid proteinosis, pigmentation in health and disease and hermaphroditism.

Her current research collaborations include studies on obesity, hypertension, bone development, HIV related kidney disease and glaucoma in South African populations. In addition to being the reporting PI for this training program, she is Interim Director of the Sydney Brenner Institute for Molecular Bioscience (Wits University) which focuses on a molecular understanding of non-communicable diseases in African populations, joint PI of the first phase of the “Southern African Human Genome Programme”, chair of the Southern African Society for Human Genetics, chair of the Wits Bioinformatics Steering Group, joint champion of a cross-faculty Research Thrust, “Molecular Biosciences: Health for Africa” and joint editor and author of a textbook, “Molecular Medicine for Clinicians” (Wits University Press, 2009).

Ambroise Wonkam

President Elect of the African Society of Human Genetics (2019)
University of Cape Town

he is a specialist Medical Geneticist, in the Division of Human Genetics, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa.

After a MD training from the Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University of Yaoundé I (Cameroon), he completed a thesis in Cell Biology in the department of Morphology, University of Geneva (Switzerland) and a PhD in Human Genetics (University of Cape Town, South Africa). Other salient aspects of Prof Wonkam’s background include his education as a medical geneticist at a highly reputable genetics department in Geneva (Switzerland). He subsequently practices medical genetics in both European and African contexts.
His research interests are reflected in more than 100 peer-reviewed publications, which are in molecular, clinical, educational and ethical aspects of medical and human genetics. His research focuses on: 1) Psychosocial Burden and Genomics modifiers of Sickle Cell Disease (SCD); 2) Genetics of hearing loss, and 3) Ethical and educational Issues in human genetics in Africa.

Prof Wonkam has let successfully over the past 5 years an NIH/NHGRI funded SCD project, and as Co-applicant, a Wellcome Trust – DELTAS grant to develop capacity in human Genetic on the African continent. He has recently been granted from NIH/NHLBI 3.7m USD, to establish a Sickle Africa Data Coordinating Centre (SADaCC), to develop various studies in Tanzania, Nigeria and Ghana. In addition, under the new round of the H3Africa Consortium, he was Awarded 3 grants to support the Hearing impairment Genetic Studies in Africa (HI Genes Africa) from the NIH/NHGRI (1.25mUSD) and the AESA/Wellcome Trust (2.07mUSD); and another collaborative center grant from the NIH/NHGRI (2.5mUSD) to support the study of Incidental Findings in Genetic Research in Africa (IFGENERA).

He was awarded the 2003 Denber-Pinard Prize for the best thesis from the Faculty of Medicine, University of Geneva, Switzerland, and won the very competitive Clinical Genetics Society International Award for 2014, from the British Society of Genetic Medicine.

Prof Wonkam is member of the steering committee of H3Africa consortium, president elect of the African Society of Human Genetics, council member of Human Genome Organization, steering committee’s member of the Global Genetic Medicine Collaborative (G2MC).