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UKZN academic awarded two international fellowships

Dr Tivani Mashamba-Thompson is the Academic Leader for Research in the School of Nursing and Public Health at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN). She is also the recipient of two prestigious international fellowships. The first was awarded by the Canadian government's infrastructure set-up for Aids clinical trials, known as the Canadian HIV Trials Network (CTN) Fellowship. The second fellowship was bestowed by the University College London's Centre for the Advancement of Sustainable Medical Innovation (UCL-CASMI).

The CTN International Fellowship for 2019/2020 aims to train an international scientist who is committed to developing and conducting HIV treatment or prevention research in a resource-limited country.

Mashamba-Thompson is working on a project that centres on investigating the feasibility of community-based HIV self-testing for urban men in SA. She is collaborating with Professor Paul Drain, with whom she has worked for the past five years.

Her local mentor for the project is Dr Richard Lessells, a respected Senior Infectious Disease Specialist in the Department of Infectious Diseases at UKZN's Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine.

Her Canada-based mentor is Professor Lehana Thabane, who holds prestigious senior positions in different countries.

Chaired by Professor Sir John Tooke, the UCL-CASMI aims to create a national network of academics and professional specialists committed to understanding and developing improved and more sustainable ways of effecting medical innovation. The CASMI fellowship fosters links to encourage interdisciplinary and inter-institutional research and scholarship, highlight and organise relevant meetings, and influence policy and practice.

Through this fellowship, Mashamba-Thompson has been offered UCL-funded, high-profile executive coaching, which covers resilience, reflective thinking and leadership. She will also have the opportunity to be involved in Lancet series and commissions.

Since joining UKZN as a developmental lecturer in 2015, Mashamba-Thompson has been a very active researcher. She was one of the university's top 10 young published researchers in 2018, has more than 50 peer-reviewed publications and has supervised 10 master's students and one PhD to completion. She is known for her commitment to building research capacity through systematic review and scoping review workshops.

"I feel honoured to see my research gaining international recognition and I am grateful to have been awarded these prestigious fellowships at this stage of my career. I am also very grateful to have Dr Richard Lessells and Professor Lehana Thabane as my mentors and Professor Paul Drain as a collaborator for the CTN fellowship project," said Mashamba-Thompson.

"As an Academic Leader: Research, I lead by example. I believe that the UCL-funded leadership training offered as part of the CASMI fellowship will enhance and build on my current leadership abilities. I have started the leadership-coaching programme and I am looking forward to a productive working relationship with Professor Sir John Tooke and his team," she added.

Words: Nombuso Dlamini