TB continues to be one of the leading causes of mortalities in South Africa and across the globe according to Statistic South Africa. The high infection rate of HIV in the country is also believed to be the main contributory factors of the high number of TB deaths. There is a great need for more medical specialists to help address this world health challenge.
And of those who stepped up to mitigate the impact of the diseases is Dr Suventha Moodley. She chose to pursue a research to better understand the anti-microbial resistance during various stages of the TB spectrum. The idea is to use her research findings to contribute to the fight against poverty-related diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB which are prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa.
Supporting emerging researchers
Dr Moodley’s research work received a timely boost recently in the form of a three-year Career Development Fellowship from the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP). Currently she is a TB researcher at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS) at Stellenbosch University (SU). She is also a post-doctoral research fellow with the Clinical Mycobacteriology and Epidemiology (CLIME) research group of the Molecular Biology and Human Genetics Division at the FMHS. Career Development Fellowship’s objective is to support budding to mid-career researchers by providing them with an opportunity to train and develop their clinical research skills.
Variety of infectious diseases
The EDCTP programme supports clinical research, research capacity development and international networking to promote and accelerate the clinical development of effective, safe, affordable and affordable medical interventions for a variety of infectious sicknesses bedevilling the continent. By the end of last year, the EDCTP would have spent over 40 million euros to support 201 career development fellowships. Dr Moodley boasts degrees in Medical Microbiology at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. She then relocated to the Cape Town to pursue her post-doctoral research as part of the CLIME group at SU. Her MSc and PhD degrees both focused on the topic of TB.
Advancing technical training
She has won several accolades and scholarships which include, among others, the NRF innovation and scarce skills scholarship, the Professional Provident Fund (PPS) bursary, and USAID. She says the EDCTPcareer development fellowship will provide her the opportunity to advance her computational and technical training. Dr Moodley says the skills she will acquire through the training will enable her to investigate the emergence of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) amongst ESKAPE – (a collective name for six highly virulent and antibiotic-resistant bacterial pathogens) bacteria in people with tuberculosis.
Adds Moodley: “This is a key public health issue because it represents the intersection of two profound challenges facing global health: AMR, designated by international agencies as the biggest future healthcare problem, and TB, the most common infectious cause of death.”
In addition, Dr Moodley reckons that the EDCTP fellowship will give her a chance to foster and deepen existing collaborations and partnerships as well as network with other colleagues. “I was very excited about this opportunity to expand my collaborations and training in my chosen field,” she says.