SATVI says farewell to Professor Willem Hanekom

19 Nov 2014 - 23:45
SATVI team with Professor Willem Hanekom

Willem who has been appointed Deputy Director, at the Seattle based Bill Gates Foundation, was the Director of SATVI since 2011, has vast expertise in clinical trials involving protective host responses to TB and has contributed to more than 120 research publications. Willem is past president of the Federation of African Immunological Societies, and has served on multiple international advisory committees in TB vaccine development and translational immunology.

According to Professor Mark Hatherill, Director of SATVI, who spoke at his farewell function, “Willem is respected by international scientists and the new position he assumes at the Gates Foundation provides an opportunity for him to direct and give input into TB vaccine research at a global level. Within the scientific community, everyone is aware of Willem’s association with SATVI, the work that SATVI does and therefore he would play an important role as brand ambassador for SATVI within the global TB vaccine research community”.

Dr Zameer Brey, SATVI Chief Operating Officer, thanked and applauded Professor Hanekom for his contribution on many levels. “Willem is an excellent teacher, mentor and role model. He has an inspirational leadership style and has a way of bringing out the best in people working with him. At an organisational level, Willem was instrumental in building a legacy for SATVI underpinned by a clear strategy, a focus on systems for long term sustainability and the recognition that people are core to any organisational success. Finally, his contribution to the TB vaccine world and the fight against TB is evidenced by his phenomenal publication record, successful grant proposals and by the multiple advisory groups he provides council to globally.”

Mrs Ashley Veldsman, Regulatory Specialist at SATVI, told us that whilst it was sad to see him go, “that  it was in effect an accolade and recognition of the calibre of people and research which SATVI and UCT delivers and that his departure would serve as an important North-South collaboration, not just to showcase what SATVI is capable of, but also what the African continent can offer the world”.

In his address Professor Hanekom, told SATVI staff he finally decided to join the Foundation when, as researcher, faced with the challenge of a watershed in tuberculosis research at global level, he realised that there is a need for a rethink on how we work together internationally, the need for developing new scientific approaches, new ways of conducting clinical trials; and that he saw the opportunity to join the Gates Foundation to work on a global strategy towards eradicating TB through the development of vaccines. According to him it would take two to three years to develop, start and implement such a strategy.