Helen Rees, Executive Director
Rees is the founder and Executive Director of Wits RHI and Ad Hominem Professor in
the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. She is an Honorary Professor in
the Department of Infectious and Tropical Diseases of the Clinical Research
Unit at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Professor Rees
received her Medical Degree and a Master’s in Social and Political Sciences
from Cambridge University and in 2002 became an alumnus of Harvard Business
Rees is one of South Africa’s most well-known women scientists. Her research
interests include HIV/AIDS prevention, STIs, microbicides, HIV and HPV
vaccines, and broader issues relating to women’s health. She is the Co-Chair of
South Africa’s National AIDS Council’s Programme Implementing Committee and a
member of the National Advisory Group on Immunisations. Previously, she served
as the Chair of South Africa’s Medicines Control Council and was a member of
the National Research Ethics Committee.
Rees serves as a technical expert to many international organisations including
the Global Alliance on Vaccines and Immunisation, the HIV Vaccine Advisory
Committee and the HPV Vaccine expert committee of the World Health Organization,
the Population Council and the US National Institutes of Health. She is
currently member of the Board of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative,
Venter, Deputy Executive Director
Francois Venter is Wits RHI's Deputy Executive Director and lecturer in the
Department of Medicine, University of the Witwatersrand. He is the Head of
Infectious Diseases at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital.
Prof Venter is on the board of the Southern African HIV Clinicians Society,
which has over 12 000 members in the region.
has expertise in programmatic HIV implementation, especially provision of
anti-retroviral therapy, opportunistic infection prophylaxis, human resource
allocation, data systems and service integration. He has extensive training
experience in these areas and an interest in monitoring and evaluation of
clinical interventions, as well as a human rights interest in access to quality
care. He has published several operational research studies. He has been part
of and continues to participate in several important South African and regional
was the Chairperson of the 5th SA Aids Conference in 2011.
Sickle, Deputy Executive Director: Strategy and Development
Dr. Eugene Sickle is the Deputy Executive Director focussing on Strategy and Development for Wits RHI. He has a doctoral degree in Synthetic Organic Chemistry from the University of Cape Town and considerable post-doctoral experience in the area of Medicinal Chemistry. After several years in academia he moved to Wits RHI, initially to lead the Institute’s USAID-PEPFAR programme. Dr Sickle is an expert in strategic financial and programme management and the functions of the Strategy and Development Department that he oversees provide an operational foundation that supports the technical work that Wits RHI undertakes. The Department includes teams dealing with Training, Strategy and Communications, Operations, and Grants Management and Development.
Delany-Moretlwe, Director: Research
Delany-Moretlwe is Director of Research at Wits RHI. She trained as a medical
doctor at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, and obtained
both an MSc in International Health and Tropical Medicine and a PhD in Clinical
Epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).
Delany-Moretlwe has an active interest in the prevention and control of
sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV. She has been an
investigator on several international multi-centre trials evaluating new
technologies for HIV prevention, including genital herpes treatment and novel
microbicides. She is currently an investigator on the FACTS 001 multi-centred
South African trial of tenofovir 1% gel; and is also involved in research on
the prevention of human papilloma virus (HPV) in high HIV-prevalence settings.
Delany-Moretlwe is an active post-graduate lecturer, supervisor and examiner in
sexual and reproductive health and epidemiology. She has served on national
advisory committees and as a technical adviser for WHO. Dr Delany-Moretlwe has
received several awards including the Best Emerging Woman Scientist from the
South African Department of Science and Technology (2006), and a South African
National Research Foundation Thuthuka Award (2006).
Dr Thesla Palanee, Director: Clinical Trials
Director of Clinical Trials, Dr Thesla Palanee provides strategic and technical
leadership and support in the planning, implementation and management of
clinical research within Wits RHI. She participates in the development and
planning of new research protocols, writing funding proposals and providing
guidance on the requirements of local and international regulatory bodies and
holds a BSc Honours degree from the University of Natal and has obtained a
Master’s in Medical Science degree cum laude from the University of Natal
Medical School, as well as a PhD in Biochemistry from the University of KwaZulu
Natal, Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine. She obtained post-doctoral
experience in the Department of Molecular Virology and Bioinformatics at the
Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies based at the University of
KwaZulu Natal. She also worked at the HIV Prevention Research Unit of the
Medical Research Council in Durban as a Scientist and a Specialist Scientist
before joining Wits RHI in May 2009 as Technical Adviser, Clinical Research
Management. She then became the Technical Head of Network Trials, Research
Centre Programmes until her appointment as the Director of Clinical Trials in
Black, Director: Clinical Programmes
Black, Director of Clinical Programmes, is responsible for leading the clinical
technical teams in providing technical support to the organisation and to the
Department of Health and Social Development.
joined Wits RHI in March 2003 and worked in HIV prevention. She has been involved
in initiating an integrated antenatal antiretroviral clinic at Charlotte Maxeke
Johannesburg Academic Hospital and in the development of the Institute’s
maternal health team. Prior to joining Wits RHI, Dr Black worked in internal
medicine and microbiology.
Dr Black is a
member of the South African National AIDS Council, where she is the Civil
Society Chair of the Treatment Care and Support Technical Team.