Change the world

Professor Bavesh Kana directs the DSI/NRF Centre of Excellence for Biomedical TB Research, a national centre with nodes at Wits, Stellenbosch University and UCT. He is also a research fellow at the Centre for AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa and a consultant for the South African Medical Research Council and the Bill and Melinda Gates Medical Research Institute in Cambridge, USA.

He studies tuberculosis with a focus on developing new TB drugs, with a shorter treatment duration and fewer side effects. He obtained his PhD at Wits and has worked in several international institutions including the University of Pennsylvania, the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow, Texas A&M University, the Public Health Research Institute in New Jersey and Harvard Medical School.

His outstanding contribution to science and the health of people suffering with TB is illustrated by numerous local and international accolades. In recognition for his pioneering approach to research, Prof Kana was appointed as an Early Career Scientist of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute where he was selected from over 700 applicants from around the world and represented one of only two awards made to the African continent.

Bavesh was selected as one of the 200 top young South Africans by the Mail and Guardian newspaper and also was awarded the Medical Research Council scientific merit award for outstanding lifetime scientific contribution to health research. He received the CEO Titan Award given to influential men who embody the spirit of excellence and have made meaningful contributions to shift the African landscape for outstanding medical contribution in South Africa, the SADC region and the African Continent.

Prof Kana has also translated some of his research into products that enable quality assurance and verification of tuberculosis diagnostic devices. This has led to spinout a Biotech company from Wits and currently, these products are being used in over 50 countries around the world.

In recognition for this, he was recently awarded the Vice-Chancellor’s Innovation Award. Through these efforts, Bavesh and his team have positively impacted on the lives of thousands of people suffering with tuberculosis, with the ultimate aim of alleviating the pain and suffering associated with this dreaded disease. In  2020, he pivoted this technology to  support national diagnosis of Covid-19, through supporting laboratories in the public sector. He created a new series of products that enabled mass testing in South Africa, these have now been rolled out to 34 other countries. For these and related activities, his team was awarded the National Science and Technology Forum Innovation Award in 2021.

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