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Prof Mapaseka Seheri awarded C1 NRF Rating

Prof Mapaseka Seheri awarded C1 NRF Rating

Prof Mapaseka Seheri has been with SMU for sixteen (16) years serving in the Department of Virology and Research and Innovation Directorate and believes that this has provided her with a broad knowledge in research excellence and impact, teaching and learning, as well as the ability to successfully lead research enterprise and academic groups. “My current role as the Research and Innovation Director is to actively support the DVC Academic and Research in achieving the University Research and Innovation strategic objectives and to accelerate the following; 1) promote strategic collaborations and partnerships; 2)
promote interdisciplinary research and attract external research funding; 3) improve and enhance high quality research output with high impact; 4) promote and strengthen existing and emerging research focus areas; 5) attract postgraduate students and postdoctoral research fellows; 6) increase research capacity, attract and strengthen research teams. I am also the Director of the Diarrhoeal Pathogens Research Unit(DPRU)/WHO Rotavirus Regional Reference Laboratory (WHO RRL)/WHO collaboration Centre.

Prof Seheri’s research focus area addresses childhood diarrhoeal diseases nationally and regionally, prioritising the health of women and children in order to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), that would reduce maternal, neonatal and under-five mortality by 50% in the African Region. Diarrhoeal disease and pneumonia remain the leading causes of death in children < 5 years of age in sub-Saharan Africa.

She is a recognised scholar, leader and has extensive experience in molecular virology, disease surveillance systems, molecular epidemiology, interaction between host and virus, viral diversity, genetics and evolution, whole genome sequencing and bioinformatics for rotavirus and norovirus as well as other diarrhoeal pathogens, gut microbiome and metagenomics research, with Google Scholar Citations: 1690, h-index (Google scholar): 24 and Scopus h Index :21. Prof Seheri continued to publish at an international level of excellence in high quality journals and has more than 60 peer – reviewed articles to her name. She was awarded C1 NRF rating and has presented more than 100 papers at scientific conferences both locally and internationally. The research conducted supports the African Rotavirus Surveillance Network, Global Rotavirus Surveillance Network, Global Paediatric Diarrhoeal Surveillance and Global Paediatric Norovirus Surveillance Network.

Prof Seheri has trained, mentored and supervised 35 postgraduate students (PhD, MSc and Hons) and 4 Postdoctoral research fellows, who have successfully completed their studies. In addition, she currently has, 2 PhD, 5 MSc and 2 Hons students registered under her supervision. “I have also served as manuscript reviewer and external examiner for postgraduate students’ dissertations/thesis for various institutions locally and internationally such as; Technical University of Kenya, University of Venda, University of Pretoria, University of KwaZulu-Natal and University of North West, Mafikeng Campus. “As a collaborative effort jointly with WHO and partners, we successfully organised fourteen AFR RSN Inter-Country Training Workshops, and I have trained 42 scientists/ technologists from 29 African countries. I have earned local and international recognition in the field of diarrhoeal diseases and rotavirus, where I have made valuable contribution in the introduction of rotavirus vaccine in the African continent, pioneered the whole genome sequencing in African continent and my proven ability to successfully leading research and academic groups, by hosting the Rotavirus Regional Reference Laboratory – South Africa (RRL – SA), member of the African Rotavirus Surveillance Network and recently leading the Diarrhoeal Diseases and Vaccine Research WHO Collaborating Centre”, she said.

Her current network research collaborations span National, Regional, International Research Institutions, Academic Institutions and Ministries of Health of more than 27 African countries supported by research articles produced. “I am currently serving at the highest level local, national, regional and international structures and received a research fellowship with the University of Ghent, Belgium and a visiting research fellow at Centres for Disease Control and Prevention/National Centre for immunisation and Respiratory Diseases (Atlanta)”, added Prof Seheri.

She was appointed for the 2nd term by the Minister of Health to the National Authority for Containment committee on poliovirus eradication (2021-2025) and a member of various committees at SMU.


Seven SMU Academics and Researchers awarded ratings by the National Research Foundation

Seven SMU Academics and Researchers awarded ratings by the National Research Foundation

Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University (SMU) is proud of its seven (7) academics and researchers who have recently been awarded ratings by the National Research Foundation (NRF). The seven are Professor Kebogile Mokwena, Prof H Kluyts, Prof, Mapaseka Seheri, Prof Lawrence Obi, Dr Samantha Govender, Dr M Mkolo and Dr Gauta Matlou. The NRF rating system is a key driver in the NRF’s aim to build a globally competitive science system in South Africa. It is a valuable tool for benchmarking the quality of our researchers against the best in the world. NRF ratings are 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/outlets. Rated researchers as supervisors will impart cutting-edge skills to the next generation of researchers.

The Research and Innovation Directorate through the leadership of Prof Mapaseka Seheri provides support to academic researchers throughout the application process which includes but not limited to: Information sessions, step-by-step guide on how to complete the Rating application form and one-on-one meetings with potential applicants.

The rating of individuals is based primarily on the quality and impact of their research outputs over the past eight years, taking into consideration the evaluation made by local and international peers. It identifies researchers who count among the leaders in their fields of expertise and gives recognition to those who constantly produce high quality research outputs. “Several South African universities use the outcomes of the NRF evaluation and rating process to position themselves as research-intensive institutions, while others provide incentives for their staff members to acquire and maintain a rating and give special recognition to top-rated researchers so is SMU”, says SMU Director of Research and Innovation Professor Mapaseka Seheri.

The ratings that are awarded fall within the following categories:
• A – Leading international researchers
• B – Internationally acclaimed researchers
• C – Established researchers
• P – Prestigious Awards
• Y – Promising young researcher

While it is also important to note that NRF provides incentive funding to researchers once they receive their rating, SMU also does provide incentives and acknowledge rated researchers during the Annual Vice Chancellor’s Excellence awards.

Detailed information on NRF Rating can be obtained at:

For institutional support, guidance and information please visit the Research and Innovation Directorate at 5th Floor Clinical Pathology Building or contact Prof LM Seheri (


The Dean of the School of Medicine at SMU Prof Nathaniel Mofolo attains a Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) from a UK based University

The Dean of the School of Medicine at SMU Prof Nathaniel Mofolo attains a Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) from a UK based University

Professor Nathaniel Mofolo heeded the call in 2017 and enrolled for a professional Doctorate in Business Administration in Higher Education Management offered by the University of Bath in the United Kingdom (UK). The University of Bath has established itself as one of the top 10 UK universities with a reputation for research and teaching excellence.

This was a collaborative partnership with the Nelson Mandela University’s (NMU) Teaching Development Grant funding from the DHET to implement the Future Leaders Initiative programme. The programme aimed to provide high-level development opportunities for professional, administrative, management and support staff involved in leading and managing sections or divisions linked to the academic project in universities. It also aimed at enhancing the general quality of teaching, student learning and success.

Prof Mofolo was part of the second cohort of 27 senior professional staff who started in 2017. The professional Doctorate is an innovative, research-based programme designed to meet the needs of senior professional staff. It is offered on a part-time basis, through a blended mode of delivery, with four 8-day residentials (contact sessions) in the first two years of the programme. The first and last residentials were held at NMU and the other two at the University of Bath. After the two years of course work, a doctoral research study is undertaken. This means that the programme, generally, takes 4 to 8 years to complete. Professor Mofolo completed his Doctorate in 2022; and he is the third to complete in his class. He will be graduating on the 19th July 2023 in the UK.

The title of his thesis was: Evaluation of the implementation and assessment of AfriMEDS physician competency framework in an undergraduate medical programme: A South African mixed- methods case study.

The study focused on the evaluation of the implementation and assessment of milestones achieved in entrenching the AfriMEDS physician competency framework in an under- graduate medical programme in South Africa. The study concluded by showing that a framework, guidelines and benchmarked assessment tools are needed to infuse the AfriMEDS framework to transform an undergraduate medical curriculum. Furthermore, the developed guide- lines, when implemented, will lead to the improvement of the quality of medical students.

SMU Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Peter Mbati, on behalf of the university congratulates Prof. Mofolo for this monumental achievement.

The Dean of the School of Medicine at SMU Prof Nathaniel Mofolo attains a Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) from a UK based University

Prof Zach Koto is the new President of Association of Surgeons of South Africa (ASSA)

Prof Zach Koto is the new President of Association of Surgeons of South Africa (ASSA)

Prof Zach Koto, Head of Surgery at Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, was recently elected as the President of the Association of Surgeons of South Africa (ASSA). He wants to see ASSA grow to a point where it also mentors young surgeons apart from looking at the affairs of surgeons in the country. Under his capable leadership, he hopes to see the association address many pressing challenges that include amongst others training, inadequate funding for training posts in public hospitals, equipment issues and the disease burden that threaten to overrun surgical programmes across various training platforms. Prof Koto is an ordinary individual who likes to work hard, challenge himself continuously to be a better version of himself. Focus on SMU reporter caught up with him to get insight into his role as the president of the association.

His thoughts on taking up the role of President. “I have previously served in the executive committee as a representative from academic centres as head of the department, I served in various capacities for many years in the association and I think for colleagues to have confidence in me and elect me as president is indeed an honour and privilege. It is an association that organises surgeons across the width and breath of South Africa and does many things in terms of surgical care and training. I am looking forward to working with a very able executive committee under the chairmanship of Prof Paul Goldberg, Secretary Dr Claire Warden, and treasurer, Dr Mbulelo Khenene. I’m looking forward to working and serving as the president of the association,” said Prof Koto.

Prof Zach Koto is the new President of Association on of Surgeons of South Africa (ASSA)

Engagement with DALRRD and ARC on the re-introduction of Veterinary Sciences and Animal Health at SMU

Engagement with DALRRD and ARC on the re-introduction of Veterinary Sciences and Animal Health at SMU

The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Peter Mbati hosted a delegation from the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) and the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) on the 14 October 2022 at SMU. This meeting comes against the backdrop of an initial meeting that the VC held with the Minister of DALRRD, the Honorable Thoko Didiza and her Department to explore the possibility of the reintroduction of Veterinary Sciences and Animal Health at SMU, necessitated by the realization that there is an increased need for veterinary training in the country.

As a way of introduction, the Chief Director for Sector Capacity Development, Ms. Lebogang Botsheleng, who led the Departmental delegation, made a brief contextual presentation with regard to the increased need for veterinary training in the country. She indicated that Cabinet has taken a decision regarding the introduction of veterinary Sciences and Animal Health to be hosted by at least two additional universities; and that SMU was encouraged to submit a proposal for consideration by the Department. The ARC was represented by its CEO, Dr. Litha Magingxa and its Group Executive Animal Sciences, Dr. Andrew Magadlela.

In response, the VC indicated that SMU has a new business model, which amongst others, seeks to ensure that the university diversifies its PQM and increases its student enrolment to ensure that it becomes financially sustainable. In this context, it is anticipated that the reintroduction of a range of veterinary studies will make a significant contribution towards this strategic objective.

The VC further indicated that the university has commissioned a feasibility study with regard to the reintroduction of Veterinary Sciences and Animal Health, which will be completed by the end of November 2022. He stated that this study will inform proposals on a responsive curriculum and the required capacity (human, physical and technical), which will be done in consultation with all the relevant stakeholders.

The meeting also acknowledged that, internationally, South African graduates are in high demand; which is an indication of the quality of veterinary training that South Africa provides; a strength which needs to be harnessed.

In conclusion, the parties made a commitment for further consultative meetings to consider the outcomes of the SMU commissioned feasibility study and to chart a way forward.

VCs Desk - Engagement with DALRRD and ARC on the re-introduction of Veterinary Sciences and Animal Health at SMU

SMU Council crafts levers to grow a world class Health Sciences University

SMU Council crafts levers to grow a world class Health Sciences University

In a departure from the routine Council workshops, the SMU Council spent considerable time and energy in a strategy reflection workshop from 14 – 15 September 2022 re-imagining a new operating model that
would catapult SMU into the league of World Class Universities, becoming globally competitive and simultaneously remaining locally relevant. The Chairperson of Council Ms. Maria Rambauli emphasized urgency in a shift towards SMU becoming a sustainable self-funded institution, with the academic enterprise at the centre of its operations.

In this context, the university needs to ensure that it attracts excellent academics, professionals, administrative staff and students. It is envisaged that this will ensure that SMU is academically and administratively competitive and becomes the “go to” institution in the HE sector, locally and abroad. The need for collaboration with industry and other institutions of higher learning, and the utilization of alumni for resource mobilization, coupled with an emphasis on impact of SMU initiatives was emphasized. Ms. Thaaniya Isaacs of PwC made a compelling case for the adoption of technology to increase teaching and learning efficiencies in a Health Sciences University. Her presentation was premised on the 2022 PwC survey conducted amongst Vice Chancellors and Deputy Vice Chancellors of the 26 South African public universities.

On transforming SMU into a World Class University, the Vice Chancellor Prof Peter Mbati stated that there has to be a deliberate intent and purpose from within an institution to grow into a world class university while change management towards achieving this goal is key to successful transformation. According to Mbati, the establishment of a World Class university requires, above all, strong leadership, a bold vision of the institution, and clarity of its mission and goals. In this regard, SMU must craft a clearly articulated strategic plan to translate this vision into concrete targets and programmes. Prof. Patrick Demana (former Acting DVC Academic and Research) made a compelling case in his presentation on “Reimagining a World Class Academy at SMU”. This possibility is real, with the need for SMU to expand its PQM, consideration for a hybrid programme delivery model, the need for state-of-the-art infrastructure, striving for teaching excellence, improved rankings and the strengthening of community engagement. On the backdrop of the presentation by the Acting Dean of the School of Oral Health Sciences Prof. Dini Mawela, Council was convinced of the need for strong, principled, cohesive and caring leadership.

In his presentation, the CFO Mr. Eminos Manyawi focused on the new business model as central in achieving financial sustainability. Among others, the model seeks to be increase programme offerings and double student numbers over time, increase infrastructure capacity on campus, improve its third-stream income by amongst others commercialization of SMU land. SMU will consider changes with regard to, amongst others, enrolment targets and its pricing model. The Registrar Dr. Jeffrey Mabelebele led a discussion on the current SMU SWOT analysis while the Chief Operating Officer, Mr. Mfanfikile Sibanyoni presented the status of infrastructure development on campus, and future possibilities.

VCs Desk - SMU Council crafts levers to grow a world class Health Sciences University