Robert J. Wilkinson


Honorary Professor Robert J. Wilkinson MA (Cambridge) BM BCh (Oxford) DTM&H PhD FRCP FMedSci

Senior Group Leader at The Francis Crick Institute, London; and Wellcome Senior Fellow in Clinical Science at Imperial College London [both posts seconded to the University of Cape Town]; Director, Centre for Infectious Diseases Research in Africa (CIDRI-Africa); Group leader and Director, Crick African Network; and Member, Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine; Department of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town.

Robert J. Wilkinson’s interests are focused on clinical and immunological aspects of tuberculosis, particularly in the context of HIV-1 infection.

HIV and TB are the most pressing public health problems in Africa: in South Africa, many hundreds of people still die prematurely per day because of HIV, many due to co-existent TB. The epidemiology and clinical features of HIV associated TB are well researched, but few studies have addressed in detail the cellular mechanisms. His research programme derives its research questions from the clinical care of tuberculosis (TB) and HIV-TB co-infected persons in South Africa and London. Through clinically-based studies, they aim to improve knowledge of pathogenesis and thereby improve prevention and treatment. Projects underway at present include the following:

How can tuberculosis infection in HIV infected people be more effectively prevented?

By what immune mechanisms do preventive therapies decrease susceptibility to TB?

What is the cause and best management of the HIV-Tuberculosis-associated Immune Reconstitution Inflammatory Syndrome? This project is led by Professor Graeme Meintjes, Professor and Infectious Diseases Physician, CIDRI-Africa, UCT.

What is the pathogenesis of tuberculous pericarditis?

How does HIV infection influence the immune responses to Mycobacterium tuberculosis in the lung?


Selected publications:

Stucki, D., Brites, D., Jeljeli, L., Coscolla, M., Liu, Q., Trauner, A., Fenner, L., Rutaihwa, L., Borrell, S., Luo, T., Gao, Q., Kato-Maeda, M., Ballif, M., Egger, M., Macedo, R., Mardassi, H., Moreno, M., Vilanova, G.T., Fyfe, J., Globan, M., Thomas, J., Jamieson, F., Guthrie, J.L., Asante-Poku, A., Yeboah-Manu, D., Wampande, E., Ssengooba, W., Joloba, M., Boom, W.H., Basu, I., Bower, J., Saraiva, M., Vasconcellos, S.E.G., Suffys, P., Koch, A., Wilkinson, R., Gail-Bekker, L., Malla, B., Ley, S.D., Beck, H.-P., De Jong, B.C., Toit, K., Sanchez-Padilla, E., Bonnet, M., Gil-Brusola, A., Frank, M., Penlap Beng, V.N., Eisenach, K., Alani, I., Ndung'U, P.W., Revathi, G., Gehre, F., Akter, S., Ntoumi, F., Stewart-Isherwood, L., Ntinginya, N.E., Rachow, A., Hoelscher, M., Cirillo, D.M., Skenders, G., Hoffner, S., Bakonyte, D., Stakenas, P., Diel, R., Crudu, V., Moldovan, O., Al-Hajoj, S., Otero, L., Barletta, F., Carter, E.J., Diero, L., Supply, P., Comas, I., Niemann, S., Gagneux, S. Mycobacterium tuberculosis lineage 4 comprises globally distributed and geographically restricted sublineages. Nature Genetics (2016) 48(12):1535-1543

Esmail, H., Lai, R.P., Lesosky, M., Wilkinson, K.A., Graham, C.M., Coussens, A.K., Oni, T., Warwick, J.M., Said-Hartley, Q., Koegelenberg, C.F., Walzl, G., Flynn, J.L., Young, D.B., Barry, C.E., O'Garra, A., Wilkinson, R.J. Characterization of progressive HIV-associated tuberculosis using 2-deoxy-2-[ 18 F]fluoro-D-glucose positron emission and computed tomography. Nature Medicine (2016) 22(10):1090-1093

Lai, RPJ; Meintjes, G; Wilkinson, KA; Graham, CM; Marais, S; Van der Plas, H; Deffur, A; Schutz, C; Bloom, C; Munagala, I; Anguiano, E; Goliath, R; Maartens, G; Banchereau, J; Chaussabel, D; O'Garra, A and Wilkinson, RJ. HIV-tuberculosis-associated immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome is characterized by Toll-like receptor and inflammasome signalling. Nature Communications (2015) 6, 8451

Coussens, AK; Naude, CE; Goliath, R; Chaplin, G; Wilkinson, RJ and Jablonski, NG. High-dose vitamin D3 reduces deficiency caused by low UVB exposure and limits HIV-1 replication in urban Southern Africans. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2015) 112, 8052-8057

Anderson, S.T.B., Kaforou, M., Brent, A., Wright, V.J., Banwell, C.M., Chagaluka, G., Crampin, A.C., Dockrell, H.M., French, N., Hamilton, M.S., Hibberd, M.L., Kern, F., Langford, P.R., Ling, L., Mlotha, R., Ottenhoff, T.H.M., Pienaar, S., Pillay, V., Scott, J.A.G, Twahir, H., Wilkinson, R.J., Coin, L.J., Heyderman, R.S., Levin, M., Eley, B. Diagnosis of childhood tuberculosis and host RNA expression in Africa. New England Journal of Medicine (2014) 370:1712-23 

Martineau, A.R., Nhamoyebonde, S., Oni, T., Rangaka, M.X., Marais, S., Bangani, N., Tsekela, R., Bashe, L., de Azevedo, V., Caldwell, J., Venton, T.R., Timms, P., Wilkinson, K.A., Wilkinson, R.J. Reciprocal seasonal variation in vitamin D status and tuberculosis notifications in Cape Town, South Africa. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (2011) 108(47):19013-7

Berry, M.P.R., Graham, C.M., McNab, F.W., Xu, Z., Bloch, S.J., Oni, T., Wilkinson, K.A., Banchereau, R., Skinner, J., Wilkinson, R.J., Quinn, C., Blankenship, D., Dhawan, R., Cush, J.J., Mejias, A., Ramilo, O., Kon, O.M., Pascual, V., Banchereau, J., Chaussabel, D., and O'Garra, A. An Interferon-Inducible Neutrophil-Driven blood transcriptional signature in Human Tuberculosis. Nature (2010) 466: 973-977


Contact details:

Wellcome Centre for Infectious Diseases Research in Africa (CIDRI-Africa)
Room 3.3.05, Wolfson Pavilion
Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine
Faculty of Health Sciences
University of Cape Town
Observatory 7925
South Africa

Tel:  +27 21 406 6084
Fax: +27 21 406 6796


Alternate sites:

Group members:

Postgraduate students and postdoctoral fellows
Dr Abhimanyu Abhimanyu Postdoctoral Fellow
Dr Du Bruyn Elsa Doctoral student
Ms Goliath Rene Masters student
Mr Moseki Moeketsi Raymond Doctoral Student
Mr  Ndengane Mthawelanga  Doctoral Student
Dr Peton Nashied Postdoctoral Fellow
Dr Seeger Allison Postdoctoral Fellow
Ms Sibiya Nomfundo Doctoral student
Ms Bam Veronica Research Nurse
Dr Berkowitz Natacha Research Medical Officer
Dr Coussens Anna Senior Lecturer in Pathology
Dr Du Bruyn Elsa Research Medical Officer
Dr Esmail Hanif Honorary Research Associate, UK
Ms Gobe Nonceba Clinical Research Worker
Ms Goliath Rene Projects Co-ordinator
Ms Jackson Amanda Data Systems Manager
Mrs January Vanessa Lab Manager
Mr Kwaza Bekekile Clinical Research Worker
Mr Lakay Francisco Senior Technical Officer
Ms Letswalo Kgothatso Laboratory Technologist
Ms Mashinyira Antoneta Data Control Co-ordinator
Ms Mayiya Mpume Clinical Research Worker
Ms McMaster Meagan Senior Data Capturer
Ms Modolo Khuthazwa Research Nurse
Mrs Morar Tania Part time Pharmacist
Mrs Morey Erika Administrative Assistant
Dr Mukasa Sandra Research Medical Officer
Ms Ngcuka Thembisa Clinical Research Worker
Mrs Omar-Davies Nashreen Radiographer
Dr Rangaka Molebogeng Honorary Research Associate, UK
Dr Riou Catherine Senior Research Officer
Dr Rockwood Neesha Honorary Research Associate, UK
Ms Ruzive Sheena Laboratory Technologist
Mr Sindelo Sicelo Research Nurse
Dr Sossen Bianca Medical Research Officer
Ms Thamae Goitseone Technical Officer
Dr Thienemann Friedrich Senior Research Medical Officer
Mrs Van Wyhe Pamela Assistant Nurse
Hon. A/Prof Wilkinson Katalin Senior Scientist, Associate Professor
Ms Wood Kathryn Centre Operations Manager
Mrs Worship Celeste Data Capturer


Anne O'Garra, NIMR, UK

Clifton Earl Barry III, National Institutes of Health

Helen McShane, Oxford University

Alan Sher, National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, USA

Jo-Anne Flynn, University of Pittsburgh, USA

Robert S Heyderman, University College London, UK

Gary Maartens, Division of Pharmacology and IDM, UCT

Bongani Mayosi, Department of Medicine and IDM, UCT