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Collaborators & Consultants

Danielle Smith PhD

Danielle completed her PhD within the Division of Human Genetics, under the guidance of Professors Jacquie Greenberg and Susan Kidson. She is utilized induced pluripotent stem cells to investigate the cause of blindness associated with Spinocerebellar ataxia type 7. She is now a postdoctoral research fellow in the Division of Neurology, where she is investigating the molecular genetics of the inherited Spinocerebellar ataxias.

Specialist areas:

  • Molecular genetics

  • Culture and characterization of induced pluripotent stem cells

  • Differentiation of pluripotent stem cells into retinal cells (retinal pigment epithelium and photoreceptors)


Lauren Watson PhD

Dr Watson completed a postdoctoral fellowship within the Divisions of Human Genetics and Cell Biology. Under the supervision of Professors Jacquie Greenberg and Susan Kidson, she investigated the use of iPSC-derived cerebellar neurons as a tool for understanding Spinocerebellar ataxia type 7 pathogenesis and therapy. Dr Watson is now based in Dr Esther Becker’s lab at the University of Oxford.

Visit Dr Watson’s website for more information.

Specialist areas:

  • Molecular genetics

  • Culture and characterization of induced pluripotent stem cells

  • Differentiation of pluripotent stem cells into neurons


Janine Scholefield PhD

Dr Scholefield completed her PhD within the Division of Human Genetics at UCT, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship in Dr Matthew Wood’s lab at the University of Oxford. She is currently based at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in Pretoria, where she has been responsible for the initiation of iPSC-based research. Dr Scholefield continues to assist as a collaborator and consultant for the UCT Stem Cell Group.

Visit Dr Scholefield’s website for more info.

Mahito Nakanishi PhD

Dr Nakanishi is the Deputy Director of the Research Centre for Stem Cell Engineering at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) in Japan. His research group has created a unique Sendai virus-based method of reprogramming, which is currently used by the UCT Stem Cell Group.

Matthew Wood MBChB PhD

Dr Wood is a University Lecturer, and Fellow and Tutor in Medicine and Physiology at the University of Oxford. His research is in field of gene therapy for degenerative disorders of the nervous system and muscle. Dr Wood has hosted various members of the UCT Stem Cell group in his lab in Oxford, and collaborates with the inherited ataxia research group.

Visit Dr Wood’s website for more info.

Michael Pepper MBChB PhD

Dr Pepper is Director of the Institute for Cellular and Molecular Medicine and a Professor in the Department of Immunology at the University of Pretoria. He has a medical, scientific, legal and business background, and his passion is translational molecular cell biology, with a particular focus on cell therapy and the human genome.

Sally Cowley PhD

Dr Cowley is the head of James Martin Stem Cell Facility (within the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford, and part of the Oxford Stem Cell Institute). She has expertise in human embryonic stem cells and human induced pluripotent stem cell derivation, culture, genetic modification and differentiation. Dr Cowley has trained a number of members of the UCT Stem Cell Group in her laboratory, and has assisted with the establishment of a number of iPSC cell lines.

Visit Dr Cowley’s website for more info.