Prof Refilwe Phaswana-Mafuya

Board member

Professor Refilwe Nancy Phaswana-Mafuya (PhD, PGD (Epi), MSc (Epi), is an Epidemiologist and Public health scientist; she studied at the University of Limpopo and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She is the Director of the first and newly established South African Medical Research Council/University of Johannesburg Pan African Centre for Epidemics Research (PACER) Extramural Unit and a Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Johannesburg. She is also a MSc Reproductive Biology and Reproductive Health MSc Lecturer (Epidemiology) at the Pan African University of Life and Earth Sciences Institute, African Union. Further, she serves as a mentor for the DHET Future Professors Programme, Phase II. Professor Phaswana-Mafuya was coronated as the Queen Mother of Research and Development by the Abeadze Traditional Council of the Abeadze State, Ghana in August 2022.

Preceding this, she was the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation at the North West University, acting Executive Director, Research Director and Chief Research Manager at the HIV/AIDS/STI/TB Research Programme of Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) for nearly 13 years, as well as Editor-in-Chief and Executive Editor of the SAHARA Journal. Prof Phaswana-Mafuya has worked to better understand the epidemiology of HIV SA and Sub-Saharan Africa for almost 20 years and in the last 10 years she paid particular attention to marginalized populations that are at higher risk for HIV acquisition and transmission. When COVID-19 hit, she played a leading role in conducting ground-breaking COVID-19 studies together with her collaborators. She chaired the 9th SA AIDS Conference in 2019, the second largest medical meeting in the world. She is also a member of Dira Sengwe AIDS Conferences; Higher Health Board; Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAF) Council, and the NRF Board as well as a Scientific Advisory Committee member of the African Health Research Institute; expert panelist at the International Expert Panel on Infectiology of the German Research Foundation; African-German Research Networks for Health Innovations in SSA; and member of the World Congress of Epidemiology 2024 Local Organizing Committee.

She is an NRF-rated scientist and a Fellow of the Academy of Science of South Africa; the African Academy of Sciences (AAS); and the Organisation for Women in Science for the Developing World (OSWD). She recently authored an inspirational empowerment book on her career journey entitled Vision Never Dies #1, learning curves from my non-linear career journey from village girl to award-winning fighter of pandemics. In 2017, she was awarded the NSTF TW Nkambule Award in recognition of her outstanding contribution to Science, Technology and Engineering, 15 years after completion of her PhD. She and was featured in Fair Lady Magazine (2022) and Dialogue Magazine (2022) as one of the world-class women scientists.

Prof Refilwe Phaswana-Mafuya serves as a member of the Research Development Committee.