Inaugural Lecture Focuses on Work being Done to Reduce Maternal Mortality in SA
Increasing research evidence on HIV-associated pre-eclampsia aetiology, enabling evidence-based clinical and programmatic guidance for the better management of the disease and the consequential reduction of maternal mortality in South Africa, was the subject of an inaugural lecture at UKZN.
The lecture was given by the Academic Theme Leader for Body Form and Function within the School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences, Professor Thajasvarie Naicker, who spoke on work being done to save pregnant women and their babies.
‘HIV infection and hypertension in pregnancy are among the top three leading causes of maternal deaths in South Africa,’ said Naicker.
Naicker has been driving research in the area of placental research and chairs the UKZN group in that field and has received recognition from the International Federation of Placental Associations for her work on pre-eclampsia.
She is an established researcher recognised by the National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa with a number of national and international grants. This has fostered the growth of the niche area of hypertension in pregnancy and microscopy and thus supports the research ethos of UKZN in the priority niche areas of maternal health and infectious diseases.
The translation of laboratory-based research evidence into clinical effectiveness by her team covered the transcytosis of HIV across the placenta; decreased functional placental efficiency; absence of lymphatic drainage in the placenta; body mass index and Adipokine baseline for future reference in South Africa; the predictive value of angiogenic factors (sFlt-1/PlGF ratio) for the diagnosis of early onset PE, and the spectrum of paediatric HIV-related renal diseases in KwaZulu-Natal.
Naicker obtained her PhD in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and her MMedSci degree from the Department of Medicine. Her research productivity adjudged from publications and conference throughput is extensive. At postgraduate level, Naicker supervises four postdoctoral fellows and has successfully graduated 25 masters and doctoral students in the last few years.
Naicker, who has published 16 papers since last year, is a reviewer for the NRF, the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) and several international journals and in addition serves on journal editorial boards.
The College of Health Sciences Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Rob Slotow congratulated Naicker and thanked her for making a meaningful contribution to the health profession and academia.
‘Becoming a professor is not a project but an achievement earned over years of hard work and dedication. Thank you for contributing to knowledge that can help people work better in the health profession.’
Words by: Nombuso Dlamini