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Career Spotlight...


Nick Name
R/ Thala

What is your current job and where do you work?
R/ PhD Student at University of Cape Town

Explain your current research/work (in simple English)
R/ My project is on Pharmacogenomics of Sickle Cell Disease: Pain and Drug metabolism associated Gene Variants, and hydroxyurea induced post-transcriptional expression of miRNAs in an African cohort. In simple terms, in my research project, I am looking for genes that are responsible for drug metabolism and microRNA that are overexpressed and under-expressed under the drug exposure called hydroxyurea (medication for Sickle Cell Disease). This study is necessary to assist in gaining a better understanding of genetic variants affecting the variability to specific complications such as stroke and acute chest syndrome, and varients affecting susceptibility to pain, as well as the pharmacogenomics of commonly prescribed treatments such as hydroxyurea, malaria prophylaxis and pain medication for future precision medicine in sickle cell disease.

Describe a typical day at work/research
R/ I do wet laboratory research, using different techniques to identify genes that are responsible for drug metabolism in sickle cell disease patients from Africa. Manage reagents (ordering and stock taking) we are using in my lab. I do participants recruitment for research purposes Supervision for junior and visiting students in our group.


What is your favourite hobby?
R/ Traveling (Ohhh yes I am in the right field), well I guess you dnt have to do Traveling and tourism in order for you to travel

What is your favourite food?
R/ Steam bread and oxtail

What was your favourite subject at school and why?
R/ Molecular Biology (Life Sciences)

Who is your role model?
R/ My sister Andiswa Mnika

What were/are your parents or caregivers professions?
R/ I don't know about my father, but my mothers was an administrator for a water project.

Career Path

Primary School: Name, Suburb/Township, City, Country
R/ Tsepisong Junior Secondary School, Tsepisong, Matatiela, South Africa

High School
R/ Mount Hargreaves Senior Secondary School

Tertiary education
R/ The University of Free State and the University of Cape Town

Previous jobs
R/ National Research Funding Intern

How confident are you in your public engagement skills (2-way communication with the general public)
R/ Confident

How often do you take part in public engagement activities
R/ Very often (> 3 times a year)

What attracted you to signing up on mGenAfrica (tick all that apply)
R/ Online communications