Pascal O. Bessong
University of Venda, South Africa
Pascal Obong Bessong, Head of Microbiology, holds a Master of Science degree in Medical Microbiology and Parasitiology, and a PhD in Microbiology with specialization in the molecular genetics of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). At different times he received his doctoral and postdoctoral training in South Africa, France and the United States, with fellowships from the French government, and the Ellison Medical Foundation. Dr Bessong is the leader of the AIDS Virus Research Programme at the University of Venda. His group is looking at genetic diversity, transmission of drug resistant viruses, and the evolution of drug resistance in HIV type 1 subtype C, the genetic variant responsible for the epidemic in Southern Africa. In addition, he is the Principal Investigator of the bioprospecting platform at the University of Venda, and of Mal-ED South Africa. The bioprospecting platform is investigating the anti-HIV, antifungal, and immunomodulatory properties of South African medicinal plants, with outreach support to traditional health practitioners. The Mal-ED programme studies the relationship between malnutrition and intestinal infections and the consequences of these conditions on various aspects of child development (www.mal-ed.fnih.org). Dr Bessong’s research group comprises over 70 individuals comprising investigators, graduate students and hired staff. Dr Bessong is a technical adviser to the International Foundation for Science, research grant reviewer for the AIDS Trust Fund, and the Department of Health of the Government of Hong Kong, and the National Research Foundation, South Africa. He reviews on an adhoc basis for over 10 scientific journals, in addition to conference abstracts and proceedings. He is also a reviewer for the Master’s and doctoral theses for several South African universities. His research is supported by the National Research Foundation, South Africa; South African AIDS Vaccine Initiative, the South African National Department of Health, the Technology Innovation Agency, South Africa; and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation through the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, USA. He collaborates with the Department of Virology, University of Limpopo; Center for Global Health and Thaler Center for AIDS and Human Retrovirus Research, University of Virginia; Indigenous Knowledge Systems Laboratory, MRC South Africa; Laboratoire REGER, University of Bordeaux 2, France; and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, Johannesburg.