Gaston K. Mazandu is from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and initially a graduate in Mathematics with an Honours degree in mathematics from University of Kinshasa in the DRC. He was awarded a Postgraduate Diploma in Mathematical Sciences at the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) in Cape Town, South Africa and a Masters in Computer Science at Stellenbosch University in South Africa. He received his PhD degree in Bioinformatics at the Division of Computational Biology, University of Cape Town.

Dr Mazandu has been an assistant professor at University of Kinshasa in DRC, teaching assistant and visiting lecturer at the African institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) as well as lecturer at University of Cape Town in South Africa for the past few years, supervising undergraduate and postgraduate students. His research interest includes Translational Bioinformatics and Epidemiology, Computational Systems Biology, Comparative and Functional Genomics, and Biological Ontology semantic analysis. His current research focuses on integrating large-scale biological and statistical data to analyse factors that contribute to disease transmission dynamics in human populations at epidemiological and molecular levels.

His expertise area includes Bioinformatics and Genomics tool development, large scale data analysis, statistical and mathematical modelling as well as machine learning techniques.

Ms Khuthala Mnika is a PhD student at the University of Cape Town. Ms Mnika is currently in her final year of her PhD studies and has already published three manuscripts as a first author and four manuscripts as a co-author in high impact journals. Her project project is entitled; Pharmacogenomics of Sickle Cell Disease: Pain and Drug metabolism associated Gene Variants, and hydroxyurea induced post-transcriptional expression of miRNAs in an African cohort. This study is necessary to assist in gaining a better understanding of genetic variants affecting the predisposition to specific complications such as stroke and acute chest syndrome, and polymorphisms affecting susceptibility to pain, as well as the pharmacogenomics of commonly prescribed treatments such as hydroxyurea, malaria prophylaxis and pain medication for future precision medicine in sickle cell disease.

First author Papers

  1. Mnika, K., Pule, G. D., Dandara, C., & Wonkam, A. (2016). An expert review of pharmacogenomics of sickle cell disease therapeutics: not yet ready for global precision medicine.;Omics: a journal of integrative biology20(10), 565-574.

  2. Wonkam, A., Mnika, K., Ngo Bitoungui, V. J., Chetcha Chemegni, B., Chimusa, E. R., Dandara, C., & Kengne, A. P. (2018). Clinical and genetic factors are associated with pain and hospitalisation rates in sickle cell anaemia in Cameroon. British journal of haematology180(1), 134-146.

  3. Mnika, K., Mazandu, G. K., Jonas, M., Pule, G., Chimusa, E. R., Hanchard, N. A., & Wonkam, A. (2019). Hydroxyurea-induced miRNA expression in Sickle Cell Disease patients in Africa. Frontiers in genetics10, 509.

Co-authored Papers

  1. Pule, G. D., Mnika, K., Joubert, M., Mowla, S., Novitzky, N., & Wonkam, A. (2017). Burden, genotype and phenotype profiles of adult patients with sickle cell disease in Cape Town, South Africa. South African Medical Journal107(2),

  2. Pule, G. D., Chimusa, E. R., Mnika, K., Mhandire, K., Kampira, E., Dandara, C., & Wonkam, A. (2017). global health, epidemiology and genomics.

  3. Pule, G. D., Chimusa, E. R., Mnika, K., Mhandire, K., Kampira, E., Dandara, C., & Wonkam, A. (2017). Beta-globin gene haplotypes and selected Malaria-associated variants among black Southern African populations. Global health, epidemiology and genomics2.

  4. Adadey, S. M., Manyisa, N., Mnika, K., De Kock, C., Nembaware, V., Quaye, O. Q., & Wonkam, A. (2019). GJB2 and GJB6 mutations in non-syndromic childhood hearing impairment in Ghana. Frontiers in Genetics10, 841.

Jack Morrice is a postdoc in bioinformatics, working for GeneMap and SickleInAfrica. He is interested in the application of cutting edge new bioinformatics algorithms to improve the diagnostic power of methods in genomic medicine for people of African ancestry, with a specific focus on Sickle Cell Disease. In a previous life, Jack worked in astronomy, where he spent his time stuck on the Dark Energy puzzle. Jack now lives in Cape Town with his partner Manyaku and their son Toro.

Mr Nguweneza is PhD student in the Division of Human Genetics, University of Cape Town. His project is looking at genetic and non-genetic factors that are associated with blood pressure variation among sickle cell patients. Prior to joining the Division of Human Genetics, Mr Nguweneza worked as a Data Analyst at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) from 2014 to 2018 and Epidemiology Fellow at Health Economics and Epidemiology Research Office from 2013 to 2014. Mr Nguweneza holds MSc. in Epidemiology from Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa.

Chandré Oosterwyk received her BSc in Medical Bioscience and microbiology at the University of the Western Cape in 2018. In 2018 she completed her Honours degree in Human Genetics. Her honours project involved investigating the role of the SFRP4 causing Pyle disease in a South African patient, which was under the supervision of Professor Ambroise Wonkam. Chandré is currently registered as a Masters student at the University of Cape Town. Her MSc project is aimed at investigating the microbiome profile in patients with sickle cell disease.

Mzodidi Tutuka was born in the Eastern Cape and grew up in Cape Town. He joined the Division of Human Genetics (UCT) in June 2018. He currently fulfils a role as Finance Administrator for Research in the GeneMap project. His specific role is in the financial processes and policy part of the project making sure that business dealings are paid for in order to keep the research work running. He works on the three of the GeneMap pillars (SADaCC, HIGENES and IfGeneRa) managing financial processes of the different funds in the project, developing effective financial system processes that are in line with the university and the funds policies that are in place.