Dr Nonhlanhla Mzila


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Project Name/Description:
National Bioproducts Institute

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While watching a documentary on heart disease on television as a 12-year-old, Dr Nonhlanhla Mzila knew right there and then that she wanted to be a medical scientist when she grew up.  It’s no surprise that Mzila, 45, from Glen Anil in Umhlanga, KwaZulu-Natal, is the head of biotechnology department at the National Bioproducts Institute (NBI) in Pinetown, west of Durban.  “My love for medical science even grew further when I learned about the devastation caused by HIV in the 1990s and I wanted to be part of the solution through medical science,” enthuses Mzila, who was born in Umlazi, Durban, but grew up in Harrismith, Free State. She holds Bachelor of Science (BSc) and BSc Honours degrees from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), as well as Masters and PhD degrees in medical biochemistry from Stellenbosch University. Her department manufactures antibodies used to diagnose malaria and hepatitis (inflammation of the liver) and other diagnostic products such as the enzyme-linked immunoassay kits. Mzila is proud of the work she did as a research assistant at the UKZN HIV Pathogenesis Programme, which led to the government changing its HIV/Aids policies to determine the antiretroviral therapy to be administered to patients. She has also been at the forefront of administering the diagnosis of malaria and ensuring that NBI’s malaria products contribute to the World Health Organization’s Roll Back Malaria Programme. Mzila, a passionate Sunday school teacher, desires to see African scientists coming up with quick diagnostic and treatment solutions for diseases that affect the continent.

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