Professor Anna-Lise Williamson

Viral Vaccine Development Group and Human Papillomavirus Research Group

Professor Anna-Lise Williamson PhD (Wits), FRSSAf, MASSAf, Fellow of UCT, Fellow of ISV

Chair in Vaccinology (NRF South African Research Chairs Initiative), Division of Medical Virology, Department of Pathology, & Member of the Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine (IDM), Faculty of Health Sciences, UCT; Member of SAMRC Gynaecological Cancer Research Centre.

Viral Vaccine Development

While the HIV prevalence in Southern Africa continues to increase, one long-term strategy for the control of the pandemic is the development of an HIV/AIDS vaccine. The aim is to make prophylactic HIV/AIDS vaccines that will induce broad, polyfunctional CD4+ and CD8+ T cell responses as well as a wide spectrum of long-lived memory T cells and antibody responses. Our most recent funding (SHIP, MRC) for candidate HIV vaccines supports the development of various novel Env vaccines including DNA and poxvirus vaccine vectors, as well as production in tissue culture and plants and establishment of a SHIV/rhesus monkey model for efficacy evaluation of these novel Env-based vaccine candidates. Current veterinary vaccine projects include a novel bovine ephemeral fever virus vaccine based on lumpy skin disease virus (LSDV).  We are also improving LSDV as a veterinary vaccine.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) projects

HPV is causally associated with cervical cancer one of the most important cancers in Africa. Our present research provides data to support HPV vaccine introduction in South Africa, as well as understanding the factors influencing infection and persistence of HPV. We continue to monitor HPV prevalence in various communities around South Africa to provide baseline data to eventually monitor the impact of HPV vaccination. As HIV and HPV are both the cause of major public health problems in SA, we have a specific interest in the impact of HIV infection on HPV. Novel insight has been gained into the impact of HIV co-infection on HPV transmission and natural history in couples. Our group were the first worldwide to study oral HPV antibodies and to demonstrate cervical T cell responses to HPV. Our research in microbicides and HPV infection detected a significant increase in multiple HPV infections in HIV-1 seronegative women using  nonoxynol-9, compared with HIV-1 seronegative women using placebo. We also published the first report showing a negative association of HPV infection with the vaginal microbicide Carraguard. We were one of the first groups to apply next generation sequencing technology to characterisation of HPV, and to show that there are many novel HPV viruses present in the genital tract. To date we have described ten novel HPV types. One of our other interests is the impact of the cervical microbiome on HPV infection.


Selected publications:

See publications and profile on Google Scholar.

Contact details:

Room S3.01.1 Wernher & Beit South
Division of Medical Virology
Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine
Faculty of Health Sciences, UCT, Anzio Road, Observatory 7925
South Africa

Tel: +27 21 406 6124
      +27 21 406 6679 (PA)

Alternate sites:

Group members:

Academic Staff: Dr Ros Chapman, Dr Gerald Chege, Dr Niki Douglass
Post Doctoral Fellows: Alltallents Murahwa, Olivia Carulei, Emmanuel Margolin, Warren de Moor
Technical Staff: Phindile Ximba, Alana Keyser
Administrative Staff: Susan Lanfear
Students: Fezokuhle Khumalo, Kegomoditswe Malebo, Leah Whittle, Thabang Serakge, Cremildo Maueia, Asisipho Mzukwa, Abdul Isaacs, Kealan Benn


South Africa  
Professor Ed Rybicki, UCT Papillomavirus metagenomics, HIV vaccines
Dr Gerald Chege HIV Vaccines
Professor Lynn Morris HIV Vaccines
Dr David Coetzee, UCT Human Papillomavirus in Heterosexual Couples
Dr Jennifer Moodley, UCT Human Papillomavirus
Professor Lynette Denny, UCT Human Papillomavirus
Professor Jo-Ann Passmore Human Papillomavirus
Professor Ulf Gyllensten, University of Uppsala, Uppsala Human Papillomavirus