Associate Professor Heather Jaspan

Division of Immunology

A/Professor Heather Jaspan BSc MD PhD (Tulane) FAAP Peds ID

Division of Immunology, Department of Pathology, Faculty of Health Sciences. Associate Professor, Department of Global Health and Pediatrics; University of Washington, Seattle, and Member, Center for Global Infectious Disease Research, Seattle Children’s Research Institute.

Heather Jaspan completed her medical degree and PhD in Immunology at Tulane in the United States of America (USA), and thereafter did paediatrics and Paediatric Infectious Disease training at the University of Washington/Seattle Children's Hospital. She spends a large proportion of her time recruiting cohorts in South Africa, and running laboratories in both Cape Town and Seattle and answering translational questions around protection of infants and adolescents from infectious diseases. Her lab finds mechanistic links in observational studies and tests causality using preclinical models, in vitro models or interventional trials.

Key areas of expertise: HIV/AIDS, paediatrics, vaccines, mucosal immunity, adolescent and neonatal HIV prevention.

Research Focus:

  1. What are the determinants of effective cellular immune responses to vaccines and other antigens? To improve vaccine design for neonates, we need to understand the early development of immunity.
  2. Adolescent mucosal immunology. With collaborators locally and in the USA, we are interested in what immunological factors in the genital tract of young African females renders them at such high risk for HIV and sexually transmitted infections, in order to design effective interventions.
  3. Gut and vaginal virome-microbiome interactions: We are interested in gut and genital tract viral-bacterial interactions, and how these inform immunity
  4. Mechanisms leading to preterm birth: Preterm birth and other adverse birth outcomes contribute significantly to neonatal morbidity. Understanding the biological mechanisms leading to adverse birth outcomes could lead to design of interventions, particularly for women with HIV.

Selected publications:

See publications and profile on: Research Gate and Google Scholar.

Contact details:

Room 3.27, Falmouth Building
Division of Immunology, Department of Pathology
Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine
Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape town
Observatory, 7925
South Africa

Tel:  +27 21 406 6823
Fax: +27 21 406 6029 

Alternate sites:

Group members:

Member Position
Anna-Ursula Happel Junior Research Fellow
Janine Heuvel Technician
Adeebah Rakiep Technician
Saori Iwase PhD student
Noluvo Rode Study coordinator
Nosiboniso Khuzwayo Study nurse
Zukiswa Mazula Recruiter
Vuyiseka Shumana Recruiter



Tom Hope, Northwestern University, Chicago, USA

Catherine Blish, Stanford, CA, USA

Steve Bosinger, Emory University, GA, USA

Adam Burgener, University of Mannitoba, USA

Renee Heffron, University of Washington, USA

Kevin Urdahl, Center for Infectious Disease Research (now Seattle Children’s Research Institute), WA, USA

Paul Edlefson, Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center, WA, USA

Maricianah Onono, Kenya Medical Research Institute, Kenya

Alash’le Abimiku, Institute for Human Virology, University of MD/ Nigeria

John Aitchison, Seattle Children’s Research Institute, WA

Whitney Harrington, Seattle Children’s Research Institute, WA

Arvind Varsani, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona

Eoin Brodie, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories, USA

Pamela Gumbi, CAPRISA

Thesla Palanee, Wits Reproductive Health Institute

Anneke Hesseling, Stellenbosch University

Linda-Gail Bekker, University of Cape Town

Clive Gray, Stellenbosch University

Jo-Ann Passmore, University of Cape Town

Lindi Masson, University of Cape Town

Nicola Mulder, University of Cape Town

Jonathan Blackburn, University of Cape Town