Senior Scientists Drs Desh Archary & Lenine Liebenberg appointed honorary Associate Professors

4 July 2022

CAPRISA senior scientists, Desh Archary (PhD) and Lenine Liebenberg (PhD) have been appointed Honorary Associate Professors in the School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences, College of Health Sciences, at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Professor Archary’s core research areas are in understanding the immunology in HIV disease and pathogenesis, mucosal immunology for HIV prevention - and more specifically the role of mucosal HIV-1 specific binding antibodies and biomarkers of risk of HIV-1 acquisition during pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Archary’s expertise and interest in humoral immunology equipped her to pivot to SARS-CoV-2 immunology and virology research with Prof Alex Sigal at the Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI).  Archary has co-authored two high impact papers in Nature and CID on antibody responses of SARS-CoV-2 in individuals during natural infection,re-infections, and during post-vaccination with either Pfizer BioNTech or the J&J vaccines. Archary has mentored and trained 13 honours, Masters and PhD students. As the recipient of an EDCTP Senior Fellowship grant awarded for capacity development and training of future scientists in southern and sub-Saharan Africa, Archary is currently training a cohort of Masters, PhDs and Post doc students to conduct research from data generation and analyses to writing scientific papers.

Professor Liebenberg has combined academic training in medical virology, microbiology, genetics, and immunology that direct the scope of her research on genital immune activation and inflammation, their various causes and the consequences to the risk of HIV/STI acquisition and transmission. Her research has collectively improved the understanding of genital immune and microbial environments that promote infection by HIV/STIs and has proposed various strategies to improve genital health to limit this risk. In addition to her significant academic achievements and professional standing, the appointment also recognises Liebenberg's active involvement in developing early-career researchers at UKZN. She currently supervises 2 Honours and 2 Masters students and has graduated 14 students since her appointment at CAPRISA.  She extends her scholarship by hosting weekly seminars at UKZN that promote awareness and improve skills in aspects of professional development for early-career researchers.  Liebenberg is a rated scientist by the National Research Foundation and an Affiliate Member of the African Academy of Sciences.

Photo (L-R): Professor Lenine Liebenberg and Professor Desh Archary