Professor Jo-Ann Passmore

Mucosal Immunology Group

Professor Jo-Ann Passmore PhD (Cape Town)

Head, Mucosal Immunology Group, Division of Medical Virology, Department of Pathology; member, Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine (IDM), Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS), University of Cape Town (UCT); Principle Medical Scientist, National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) Joint Staff.

Jo-Ann Passmore's research has focused on studying genital tract adaptive and innate immune responses associated with protection from, or susceptibility to, sexually transmitted diseases including HPV and HIV. She is specifically interested in studying biomarkers for susceptibility and protection to HIV infection, including secreted inflammatory molecules, genital immune activation and HIV-specific immune responses present in the female genital tract.

Jo-Ann has been principal investigator on several large grants from the European Developing Clinical Trials Platform (EDCTP), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Wellcome Trust, the South African HIV/AIDS Research Platform (SHARP), the South African AIDS Vaccine Initiative (SAAVI), the HIV Pathogenesis Programme (Doris Duke Charitable Foundation), the Medical Research Council (South Africa) and the Poliomyelitis Research Foundation. These have supported investigations on the impact of the female reproductive tract mucosa on risk for HIV and HPV infections, and pathogenesis following infection.

Key areas of expertise: 
Mucosal Immunology; HIV; HPV, sexually transmitted infections; bacterial vaginosis; female genital tract, innate immunity, cytokine biomarkers, genital tract immune activation; GIFT; microbiome; probiotics; lactobacillus; bacteriophages

Recent publications:

See publications and profile on Google Scholar.

Contact details:

Room 3.33 Falmouth Building Level 3 Entrance 3
UCT, Faculty of Health Sciences,
Anzio Road,
Observatory 7925
Cape Town, South Africa

Tel:  +27 78 421 2701

Alternate sites:

Group members:

Member Position
Hoyam Gamieldien Chief Scientific Officer
Tanya Pidwell Project Manager
Brian Kullin Medical Officer
Ramla Tanko Junior Research Fellow
Phumla Radebe Research Associate
Pride Kanyoke PhD student
Lyle Curry PhD student
Micaela Lurie PhD student
Anika Chicken MSc Student
Kirsten Welp MSc Student
Hannah Livingstone MSc Student
Castygo Koketso Ramotsila MSc Student
Caleb Swanepoel MSc Student
Felicity Hartley MSc Student


Vaginal Microbiome Research (VMRC) consortium (
Jacques Ravel (University of Maryland, Baltimore, United States (US)); David Relman and Susan Holmes (Stanford, US); Doug Kwon (Ragon Institute, US); Emily Balskus (Harvard, US); Don Ingber (Wyss Institute, US); Adam Burgener (Case Western Reserve University, US); Heather Jaspan (SCRI and UCT, South Africa (S)); Sinaye Ngcapu and Disebo Makhaza (CAPRISA, SA); Jeff Stringer and Joni Price (University of North Carolina, US); Caroline Mitchell (Mass Gen Hospital, US); Alain Labrique (Bloomberg School of Public Health, John Hopkins, US); Anisur Rahman (ICDDR, Bangladesh); Seth Rakoff-Nahoum (Boston Children’s Hospital, US); Katharinna Ribbeck (MIT, US); funded through BMGF.

Vaginal Microbiome Research (VMRC) 4 Africa consortium (
Serah Gitome and Elizabeth Bekusi (KEMRI, Kenya); Kingsley Anukum (Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Nigeria); Izukanji Sikazwe (CIDRZ, Zambia); Bandara Cisse (IRESSEF, Senegal); Alash’le Abimiku (Institute of Human Virology, Nigeria).

EDCTP Genital Inflammation Test (GIFT) (;
Lindi Masson and David Anderson (Burnett Institute, Australia); Janneke van de Wijgert (Utrecht Medical Centre, Netherlands); Emma Harding-Eish, Sarah Bernys, Katharina Kranzer and Constance Mackworth-Young (LSHTM, UK); Tania Crucitti (Institute Pasteur Madagascar); Bich-Tram Hughn (Institute Pasteur, France); Ayako Honda (Hitsubishu University, Japan); Chido Dziva-Chikwari (OPHID, Zimbabwe); Saberi Marais (UCT), Linda-Gail Bekker and Katherine Gill (DHTF, UCT).

SSA Karim, (director of CAPRISA University of KwaZulu-Natal); C Williamson (IDM, UCT); Clive M Gray (IDM, UCT); Lynn Morris (NICD, JHB).

SAMRC-UCT Gynaecological Cancer Research Centre (GCRC) consortium (
L Denny (Director, Department of Obstetrics Gynae, UCT); J Moodley (School of Public Health, UCT); Virna Leaner (IBMS, UCT); Anna-Lise Williamson (Dept Pathology, UCT), Ed Rybicki (MCB, UCT), Arieh Katz (IDM).