The Next Generation of Brave: PHD student Veneshley Samuels aims to combat infectious disease in South Africa

“As a South African woman from a previously disadvantaged background, I aim to develop tools that can be useful to combat diseases that are endemic in our country – and that is my main goal.” These are the words of University of Cape Town PHD candidate, Veneshley Samuels.

Originally from Atlantis in the Cape Flats, Veneshley says that many families, living in close quarters together, contracted tuberculosis and this experience has driven her to want to specialise in TB research.

Veneshley has been nominated for Adcock Ingram OTC’s ‘Sponsors of Brave: The Next Generation’, a platform to aid healthcare students financially in their studies, provide them with impactful mentorship from academic, professional and industry leaders and subsequently promote career development in the healthcare sector.

As the second of ten upcoming feature nominees, she was paired with mentor Dr. Andani Mulelu, a biochemist and research scientist at the University of Cape Town’s Drug Discovery and Development Research Unit. Dr. Mulelu’s field of study is molecular biology, protein engineering and structural biology which he is harnessing towards developing a rapid test to diagnose tuberculosis.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Global TB report anywhere between 215,000 and 400,000 people contract TB in South Africa, with the disease claiming an estimated 78, 000 lives per year.

Karen Dreyer, Board member: Melkbos Care Centre, believes that Veneshley is a hero for the future, working on a solution to a very big problem in South Africa and Africa in general. “I really do believe Veneshley is going to be someone who changes the landscape of medicine in South Africa,” says Dreyer.

Pursuing a career in healthcare is challenging at the best of times and during a pandemic it takes unwavering bravery. “Veneshley has shown a lot of courage. During lockdown while most of us were at home, Veneshley was in the field collecting clinical samples from TB patients,” says mentor, Dr. Mulelu. “The work she is doing will help a lot of people and she has a great future in this field,” continues Mulelu.

In the first season, Adcock Ingram OTC celebrated a raft of unsung heroes from the country’s health system, profiling professionals from private practice to civil service, from academia, pharmacy, and the nonprofit sector.

Now the second season is in full swing, seeking the next generation of healthcare heroes – people like Veneshley who are newly working in or studying towards a career in healthcare and can benefit from the guidance and support of a mentor.

If you know any aspiring, current or recently graduated healthcare students or are one yourself, submit a nomination to stand a chance to win.

Each week, until November 25, 2020 a new nominee is chosen and featured. All ten feature nominees will be paired with a selected mentor for career development, as well as stand a chance to win one of two R25 000 scholarships.

Watch this video to learn more about Veneshley and Dr. Mulelu and to vote

The registered NPO Dr. Mulelu nominated is:
Hope Africa Collective, Philippi East

If you know any aspiring, current or recently graduated healthcare students or are one yourself, submit a nomination to stand a chance to win: 

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