South African scientists are among an elite group of brilliant scientists who have won accolades for the ground-breaking work on HIV/Aids. Wits University-trained Simone Smith is on track to join them.
Smith’s current research focuses on isolating and characterizing monoclonal antibodies isolated from rabbits immunized with an HIV-1 immune complex. The study will enable her to determine the sites targeted by the antibodies on the virus and to determine the type of antibodies that are generated with their immunogen. This will not only add to the current field knowledge, but it has a breakthrough potential should she identify antibodies that have not previously been found.
Smith graduated with a BSc in Biological Sciences in 2016 from the University of the Witwatersrand. She is currently pursuing an MSc. with a focus on Molecular Medicine and Haematology, a degree she hopes to complete this year. Smith was awarded the CC Imelmann award during her undergraduate studies for the most improved student in 2016. She received the Wits postgraduate merit award in 2018 and 2019, and this award is given to students that perform exceptionally during their postgraduate studies. She is also a NRF-DAAD and the Poliomyelitis Research Foundation (PRF) grant holder.
Smith has presented the progress of her research project at the 9th SA AIDS conference at the International Convention Centre in Durban in June this year. Later this year, she intends presenting her data at the Wits Cross Faculty Symposium and at the Molecular Biosciences Research Thrust’s Research Day. She hopes to have an impact on and motivate young women from all over South Africa, from all backgrounds, to complete their studies and increasing the number of female professionals in workplaces, specifically in the fields of science