NRF-Nominated Young Researchers Meet Nobel Laureates in Japan

NRF-Nominated Young Researchers Meet Nobel Laureates in Japan

Dr Lebo Gafane-Matemane from North-West University’s (NWU) Department of Physiology and Dr Ncediwe Ndube-Tsolekile, attached to the Chemistry Department at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), are attending a prestigious global academic meeting with Nobel Laureates and fellow scholars at the 14th HOPE Meeting in Tsukuba City, Japan from 27 February to 03 March 2023. 

Both National Research Foundation Y-rated researchers, Dr Gafane-Matemane and Dr Ndube-Tsolekile were nominated by the NRF following an invitation by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS). The JSPS has hosted the HOPE Meetings in Japan annually since 2008, bringing together doctoral students and young researchers selected from countries and areas in the Asia-Pacific and Africa region to engage in interdisciplinary discussions with Nobel Laureates. The focus areas of the HOPE Meetings include Physics, Chemistry, Medicine and Physiology. 

The participants include approximately 100 doctoral students and young researchers from South Africa, Kenya, Egypt, China, India, Turkey, Australia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Mongolia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam and Israel.

The NRF, acting under the auspices of the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), nominatedDr Gafane-Matemane and Dr Ndube-Tsolekile due to their excellent research in their fields. The Hope Meetings present an opportunity for the NRF to advance its strategic objective of growing an internationally competitive researcher cohort in South Africa.

Dr Gafane-Matemane is an Associate Professor of Physiology at NWU’s Hypertension in Africa Research Team (HART). Her research focuses on the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS) and hypertension in populations of African ancestry. Dr Ndube-Tsolekile is a chemistry lecturer at CPUT, having achieved her doctorate degree in chemistry in 2020.

Says Dr Gafane-Matemane, “The successful nomination by NRF is a highly significant recognition for young South African scientists, for me, especially, as Physiology is an underrepresented basic science discipline. It is a privilege to represent South Africa and be the voice of young scientists in global dialogues focused on the role of basic sciences in achieving sustainable development goals.”

Says Dr Ndube-Tsolekile, “I am very honoured to have been nominated by the NRF. Representing the country in a prestigious event such as this and meeting with Nobel Laureates is a great privilege.”

The scholars not only aim to share their expertise at the meetings, but also expect to acquire new knowledge from the Nobel Laureates and other fellow researchers. Says Dr Gafane-Matemane, “I plan to exchange ideas on actions needed to achieve SDG target 3.4, which is reducing premature deaths from non-communicable diseases. I will specifically share knowledge on hypertension, a leading cause of death worldwide, with low- and middle-income countries such as those in Africa and South Asia, bearing a disproportionate burden. The meeting programme provides networking opportunities that could lead to long-term collaborations with participants from other regions with shared health challenges.”

Says Dr Ndube-Tsolekile, “I expect the meeting will allow me to engage in meaningful and thought-provoking discussions with Nobel Laureates and other participants from across the globe. I plan to use this opportunity to build international partnerships and my international profile. I am still young and open to expanding within the material science field.”

Adds Dr Ndube-Tsolekile, “With the various opportunities to present on my research work, i.e. synthesis and application of nanomaterials in lateral flow assays and cancer theranostics, I believe this meeting will highlight and market my research team and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology’s capabilities. Moreover, I am up for the challenge of returning to South Africa and imparting the knowledge gained from the Nobel Laureates and other participants to my colleagues and students.”

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