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Research Team

Dimakatso Gumede MSc

Dimakatso is a PhD student within the divisions of Medicine and Cell Biology. Under the supervision of Prof Bongani Mayosi, Prof Susan Kidson and Dr Robea Ballo, she is investigating the role of the FAM111B gene mutation in fibrogenesis using induced pluripotent stem cells.

Specialist areas:

  • Physiology and cell biology

  • Molecular genetics

  • Cell culture, including iPSC lines


Chien-Yu Dennis Lin MSc

Chien-Yu is a Phd student in the Department of Human Biology under the supervision of Prof Kidson, Dr Elizabeth van der Merwe and Dr Robea Ballo. His research focuses on deriving corneal endothelial cells from neural crest stem cells to understand the underlying cause of corneal endothelial degenerative diseases such as Fuch’s dystrophy.

Specialist areas:

  • Biochemistry and Microbiology

  • Culturing of neural crest stem cells

  • Differentiation of neural crest stem cells into corneal endothelium


Melissa Nel MBChB

Melissa is an MSc student within the Divisions of Medicine and Cell Biology. She is supervised by Prof J.M. Heckmann who heads up the Neurology Research Group at UCT. Part of this group’s focus is to investigate an ophthalmoplegic complication of Myasthenia Gravis (OP-MG) in individuals of African genetic ancestry. Under the guidance of Dr R. Ballo, Melissa is deriving induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC’s) with the aim of creating an in vitro disease model of OP-MG by differentiating these iPSC’s into extraocular myoblasts.

Specialist areas:

  • Culture and characterization of induced pluripotent stem cells


Robyn Rautenbach, MBChB, MMed Ophth

Robyn is a Masters student in the Neurosciences Research Group, a collaboration between the Department of Medicine and the Department of Human Biology at UCT. Under the supervision of Associate Professor Jeannine Heckmann and Dr Robea Ballo, she is investigating the pathogenesis of a severe and treatment-resistant form of ophthalmoplegia affecting a small subset of young Myasthenia Gravis patients of African ancestry.

Specialist areas:

  • Clinical neuro-ophthalmology

  • In the process of learning culture and characterization of induced pluripotent stem cells