Division of Infection and Immunity


TB expert appointed new Director of Africa Health Research Institute

30 August 2019

Professor Willem Hanekom will be joining the Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI), one of UCL’s significant global partners, as its new Director.

AHRI Somkhele Campus

Professor Hanekom is a clinician-scientist and a world-leading expert in tuberculosis vaccine development. He joins AHRI from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where he was a Deputy Director in the Tuberculosis & HIV team.

Professor Hanekom initially trained in medicine at the University of Stellenbosch and in paediatrics at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, and in paediatric infectious disease and immunology in the USA. He was Director of the South African Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative (SATVI) from 2011, before joining the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2013 to lead the TB vaccine group. Here he developed and implemented the foundation’s first comprehensive TB vaccine strategy, which resulted in major breakthroughs in TB vaccine discovery and development. He is also the Director of the Collaboration for TB Vaccine Discovery and chairs the Global TB Vaccine Partnership.

AHRI is one of South Africa’s largest independent research institutes, bringing together population-based, clinical and laboratory science to address some of the country’s most critical health challenges, including the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of HIV, TB and related diseases. Core funding for AHRI comes from the Wellcome Trust and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), complemented by investigator-initiated grants from the NIH, Wellcome Trust and Gates Foundation, among others. The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) and UCL are major academic partners.

Professor Hanekom will join AHRI on 2 December 2019, succeeding Professor Deenan Pillay who has stepped down to resume his role as Professor of Virology at UCL. Professor Pillay, who became Director of the Africa Centre in 2013, and led the merger with K-RITH to form AHRI in 2016, will also take up the position of UCL Pro-Vice-Provost (International) from April 2020. 



  • Credit: Ben Gilbert (Wellcome), Samora Chapman and Greg Lomas

Further information