Alisha joined the cohort of CIDRI-Africa Contributing Investigators in the third quarter of 2023. She is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Prof. William Horsnell’s laboratory in the Division of Immunology of the Faculty of Health Sciences at UCT. She has secured a number of competitive Postdoctoral Research Fellowships from institutions including UKRI MRC (BactiVac Network), the National Research Foundation of South Africa, and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German-Africa Cooperation Projects in Infectiology).
Alisha has developed complex experimental immunological studies which have led to several high-impact scientific contributions to the understanding of mucosal, reproductive and maternal immunity. Her current research focuses on understanding how distal mucosal infections alter female reproductive tract immunity, and how this impacts susceptibility to sexually transmitted infections (STIs), an important research niche which closely aligns with CIDRI-Africa’s overarching scientific objectives. She has developed in vivo co-infection models which enable these complex mechanistic studies.
Alisha believes that it is important to understand the systemic influences of common distal mucosal infections on female reproductive tract immunity. She believes that a better understanding of direct and indirect influences on the female reproductive tract would advance the prevention and treatment of STIs, improving women's health.
The importance of her work has recently been acknowledged by the award of a prestigious 5-year MRC/UKRI African Leaders Fellowship for her project “A gut feeling: How can gastrointestinal bacterial infections alter female reproductive tract immunity and control of sexually transmitted infections”. Here Alisha will address the role of pathological bacterial infection in altering female reproductive immunity and influencing STIs and fertility.
Alisha holds PhD and BSc (Med) Honours degrees from UCT in Clinical Sciences and Immunology and Infectious Diseases and Immunology respectively, and a BSc in Biomedical Sciences from the University of KwaZulu-Natal.