Programme of events:

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Professor C Kennard

Head of Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences
(Oxford University)

Professor Christopher Kennard is Professor of Clinical Neurology and currently Head of the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Oxford, an Honorary Consultant Neurologist in Oxford University Hospitals Trust and a Senior Kurti Fellow at Brasenose College. He chairs the Oxford Neuroscience Strategic Oversight Committee. Prior to this he was Deputy Principal of the Faculty of Medicine and Professor of Clinical Neurology at Imperial College London. From 2006-2012 he chaired the UK’s MRC Neuroscience and Mental Health Board. He is also the past President of the Association of British Neurologists and the European Neuro-ophthalmology Society, and the Editor of the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry. In 2001 he was made a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences. His research currently focuses on developing oculomotor biomarkers for neurodegenerative diseases.
Image: Circuit depicting oculomotor control in the brain

Professor MJA Wood

Associate Head of Medical Sciences Division
(Oxford University)

Matthew Wood is Professor of Neuroscience and Associate Head of the Medical Sciences Division at the University of Oxford. Matthew trained in Medicine at the University of Cape Town, working in clinical neuroscience before completing a PhD at the University of Oxford. Professor Wood is a world-renowned molecular neuroscientist with an outstanding record of achievement and leadership in RNA biology and therapy of neuromuscular disease. He is currently Director of the Oxford Centre for Neuromuscular Science, PI of the world-leading UK MDEX Consortium developing novel therapies for neuromuscular disease, co-directs the Research Alliance Centre for Excellence in DMD, is an Executive Board Member of the global neuromuscular network TREAT-NMD and a Non-Executive director of Isis Innovation, the technology transfer company of the University of Oxford.
Image: Oligonucleotide treatment for Spinal Muscular Atrophy preserves neuromuscular junctions

Dr JC Bracher

Neuroscience Project Manager
Jacquie graduated from UCT with a PhD in Medical Biochemistry having carried out part of her research at the National Cancer Institute, NIH. Having spent time at the Cancer Research Centre Nantes-Angers, France, with the Glioma Research Group, she continued with research at UCT looking into the role of insulin/insulin receptor signalling pathways that contribute to carcinogenesis. Since 2014, Jacquie has worked on strategic projects for the Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine, and recently the UCT FHS deanery, with a focus on the Neurosciences Initiative.

Professor AA Figaji

SARChI Chair Clinical Neurosciences
Tony Figaji is the Professor and Head of Paediatric Neurosurgery at the University of Cape Town and Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital. His research interests broadly centre on acute brain pathophysiology and he is currently running projects on biomarkers in traumatic brain injury and meningitis, mediators of brain inflammation, microdialysis-based brain chemistry and cerebral drug recovery, and molecular biology of brain tumours. He is the National Research Foundation SARChI Chair of Clinical Neurosciences, vice president of the International Neurotrauma Society.
Image: (Top two) CT scan showing a traumatic brain injury accompanied by graph illustrating intracranial monitoring. (Bottom two) intraoperative neural-monitoring.

Associate Professor JM Heckmann

Division of Neurology
Prof Jeannine Heckmann is an Associate Professor of Neurology in the Division of Neurology at Groote Schuur Hospital and University of Cape Town. She leads the UCT Neuromuscular Research Group which studies research questions related to the local populations. Two main research themes include the molecular investigation of the ophthalmoplegic complication in Africans with myasthenia gravis, and HIV-related neuropathies. An emerging interest relates to motor neurone disease in Africans.

Associate Professor JA Joska

Division of Neuropsychiatry
John Joska, MBChB, PhD is an associate professor of psychiatry, head of the division of neuropsychiatry at Groote Schuur Hospital and director of the HIV mental health research unit, in the department of psychiatry and mental health at the University of Cape Town. He has established a research programme in neuroHIV in the Western Cape Province, South Africa. The group has been funded by the NIMH, EDCTP, MRC and NRF. Projects include neurobiological investigations of the effects of HIV on brain structure and function, and neurobehavioral studies of adherence and psychological interventions. The group is interested in screening for neurocognitive disorders, as well as the combined effects of HIV and aging on the brain.

Professor EM Meintjies

SARChI Brain Imaging
Professor Meintjes is the Director of the Cape Universities Body Imaging Centre at UCT, Professor in Biomedical Engineering, and holds the NRF/DST South African Research Chair in Brain Imaging. Her research focuses on Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) technology development, as well as cardiac and neuroimaging applications. Since 2004, she has been PI, co-PI and co-Investigator on various university, South African, and NIH-funded grants involving neuroimaging of children with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), and more recently in studies of brain development in HIV-infected children from the Children with HIV Early Antiretroviral Therapy (CHER) trial stable on antiretroviral treatment (ART). Her research work has been pivotal in the establishment of the first research-dedicated MRI facility in Africa.
Image: an example of tractography used in the infant brain

Associate Professor KGF Thomas

Department of Neuropsychology
Kevin Thomas is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Cape Town. He has a PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Arizona, and completed a clinical internship and post-doctoral training in neuropsychology at the University of Florida. His research interests span a wide variety of topics in cognitive and clinical neuropsychology, and include the effects of chronic and acute stress on cognitive function, the role of disrupted sleep in producing and maintaining memory impairment in psychiatric disorders, and cross-cultural neuropsychological assessment. His work has been supported by the National Institutes of Health (USA), the National Research Foundation (SA), and the Medical Research Council (SA). He has served as an executive committee member for the South African Clinical Neuropsychological Association and the Psychological Society of South Africa (Division of Forensic Psychology and Neuropsychology).

Dr JV Raimondo

Division of Human Biology
Joseph is a cellular neuroscientist with a medical degree from the University of Cape Town and a DPhil from the University of Oxford. He currently leads a small research group at UCT which investigates mechanisms underlying epilepsy and inhibitory signalling in the brain. He enjoys pottering about in the lab, building and testing new equipment. He is an avid, but unfit, footballer.

Image: GFP expressing pyramidal neuron in the hippocampus

Stuart Lightbody

Stuart Lightbody has travelled the world with his impressive brand of sleight of hand artistry and psychological illusion. He is well-known in the Cape Town theatre scene and beyond, having performed at six of the nine World Fringe Alliance festivals, including Australia, the UK, Prague and Amsterdam. A lecturer at Cape Town’s very own College of Magic and a previous South African Grand Prix magic champion, Stuart has performed at the World Magic Championships in Sweden and at the World Magic Seminar in Las Vegas. Locally Stuart regularly performs at the Grahamstown National Arts Festival where he has been the only performance artist to have won the coveted Standard Bank Ovation Award in three consecutive years.

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