About the Victor Daitz Chair


Established in 2001 through a joint partnership between the Victor Daitz Foundation and the University of KwaZulu-Natal College of Health Sciences, the Victor Daitz Chair in HIV and TB research is a highly reputable position.  It symbolises the importance of rigorous research into these two diseases in Durban, South Africa - a part of the world that feels their devastating effects on a daily basis.  The chair is described by Victor Daitz Foundation Managing Trustee, Brian Moshal, as a jewel in the crown of the foundation.  It is currently held by Director for UKZN's HIV Pathogenesis Programme (HPP) and K-RITH Investigator, Thumbi Ndung’u.

"The establishment of the Victor Daitz Chair in TB and HIV strengthens the message of health researchers based at UKZN to a community ravaged by the disease that ‘Aids can be beaten’. The UKZN College of Health Sciences is proud of the significant contributions its academics have made in HIV/TB research.” Professor Rob Slotow, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the CHS.


About The Victor Daitz Chair

K-RITH Investigator Thumbi Ndung’u was appointed the Victor Daitz Chair in TB and HIV at the University of KwaZulu-Natal effective December 1, 2012. 

Professor Ndung’u a Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology Research Group Leader at the KwaZulu-Natal Natal Research Institute for Tuberculosis and HIV (K-RITH). He is the Director of the HIV Pathogenesis Programme (HPP) at the Doris Duke Medical Research Institute, Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, and he holds the South African Research Chair in Systems Biology of HIV/AIDS. In January 2012, he was one of the recipients of the inaugural Howard Hughes Medical Institute International Early Career Scientist award.  From 2008 to 2011, he co-chaired the Young and Early Career Investigators Committee (YECIC) of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise and played a key role in the formulation of the Enterprise’s 2010 Scientific Strategic Plan. He is a member of the scientific advisory board of the southern African Consortium for Research Excellence (SACORE), a research consortium of five southern African Universities and their counterparts from the United Kingdom. He is also a member of African AIDS Vaccine Programme (AAVP) Technical Working Group on Capacity Building and Research, and he serves on the external advisory committee of the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane-University of California, San Diego Medical Education Partnership.

Professor Ndung’u graduated with a degree in Veterinary Medicine from the University of Nairobi, Kenya, and obtained a PhD in Biological Sciences in Public Health from Harvard University. He then undertook postdoctoral studies in Virology at Harvard Medical School. He is a past recipient of the Edgar Haber award (Harvard University), the Vice-Chancellor’s research award (University of KwaZulu-Natal) and the Friedland Senior Health Researcher Prize (South Africa). Professor Ndung’u’s research interests are host-virus interactions, antiviral immune responses and biomedical interventions applicable to resource-limited settings. Professor Ndung'u has published in peer-reviewed journals in the fields of virology, immunology and biomedical research policy. He has successfully supervised more than 20 postgraduate students and postdoctoral researchers. He has received grant funding from diverse sources including the National Research Foundation of South Africa, the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), the National Institutes of Health (United States), the European Union, the Canadian Global Health Research Initiative, the Max Planck Society and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (United States). He leads a multidisciplinary team of researchers working in the fields of HIV and TB pathogenesis and vaccine development.  He has special interest in capacity building for biomedical research in Africa.

Ndung’u’s vision for the HIV/TB chair is to lead by example through innovative research; articulate and raise awareness of biomedical science and the HIV/TB syndemic; train excellent research scholars and promote collaborations and partnerships within the field.  As part of his remit he opened this Information Gateway to provide up-to-date access to top journals in TB and HIV research, to promote open access publications and sharing of important information on these two diseases.