A research leader, PhD Virologist and Senior Lecturer in the School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences, Dr Michelle Gordon, has been rated a C3 researcher by the National Research Foundation (NRF).
The NRF rating system is a key driver in the Foundation’s aim to build a globally competitive science system in South Africa. It is a tool for benchmarking the quality of researchers against the best in the world with NRF ratings allocated based on a researcher’s recent research outputs and impact as perceived by international peer reviewers. The rating system encourages researchers to publish high quality outputs in high impact journals.
‘I am delighted by the news that I have been rated among prominent international researchers by the NRF. This means that my research is recognised both nationally and internationally. My collaborations with researchers in Spain, Brazil, the US, Belgium and France has helped in raising my research profile internationally,’ said Gordon.
Probed about her remarkable passion and interest in Bioinformatics HIV ARV drug resistance, Gordon, said Bioinformatics was where biology meets computer science and it was a skill that enabled biological scientists to analyse their own data. Gordon’s interest in drug resistance began even before the national ARV roll-out in 2004 and she cautions that drug resistance is something the country should be proactive about.
Gordon supervises four PhD candidates and one masters student at the HIV Pathogenesis Programme and is involved in many research projects. Her main research focuses on HIV ARV drug resistance.
She has extensive bioinformatics experience and has co-authored several papers on the characterisation of HIV-1 subtype C and is also a co-author on several bioinformatics papers.
Gordon spoke about an important publication by her PhD student, Dr Reshmi Samuel, which describes HIV-1 drug resistance mutations that were found in a group of HIV positive women who received treatment during their pregnancy and at delivery to prevent the transmission of HIV to their babies. The technology that was specifically used in this instance, called next generation sequencing, enabled her research group to identify drug resistant viruses that would normally not be detected by standard resistance testing assays. This study found that 65% of the patients had virus with drug resistance mutations which could cause their future treatment with the same or similar drugs to fail.
Gordon intends to further strengthen her research group capacity for testing novel ARVs as well as understanding the structural implications of drug resistance mutations.
In that hectic schedule, Gordon makes time to be involved in what she loves - art and craft. Gordon also plays bass guitar in a band with her husband, Kevin, and enjoys baking cakes with her daughter, Giselle, and son, Alex.