Current Trends of Precision Health

Moderator: Mrs. Nathalie Munyampenda, Associate Director, Partnerships and Public Engagement, Next Einstein Forum 

Panelist: Dr Youssef Travaly, Next Einstein Forum

Panelist: Dr Vinet Coetzee, NEF Fellow, University of Pretoria

Panelist: Ms Glaudina Loots, Director of Health Innovation at the South African Department of Science and Technology

Panelist: Ms Alma Scott, Africa Operations and Partnerships for Johnson & Johnson Global Public Health

Currently, on the African continent, the field of healthcare is primarily focused on late stage disease treatment applied relatively late with suboptimal health outcomes. Instead of curing diseases after the fact, we must focus on preventing disease before it strikes by building a true culture of disease prevention. The future of medicine clearly lies in early diagnosis and subsequent individually tailored treatments. Advancements in science and technology are helping us understand disease risk, detect disease early, enable preventative interventions as well as matching medication to the genetic properties of a patient.

The next generation of healthcare strategies and mechanisms that integrate diagnostic information collected from multiple sources combined with state of the art technologies will help us change lives through technology.

During this panel discussion, we will review the current trends of precision health in the world and on the continent and review barriers that prevent wide deployment of personalized health in Africa (skills gaps, reliable infrastructures for state of the equipment, etc.). The panel will conclude with a few cross-cutting recommendations.

Ms Nathalie Munyampenda, Next Einstein Forum

Nathalie Munyampenda is the Next Einstein Forum (NEF) Associate Director of Partnerships and Public Engagement. She is in charge of maintaining existing partnerships as well as bringing on new strategic partners that further the NEF’s vision and support its activities. She is also in charge of building the NEF’s public engagement profile through its growing programs as well as manage all communications and media for the NEF including for the NEF’s marquee event the NEF Global Gatherings.

Prior to joining the NEF, Nathalie worked in the Canadian public service and international social media consulting before working to build the Government of Rwanda’s central communication unit as coordinator in the Office of the Government Spokesperson.


Dr. Youssef Travaly, Next Einstein Forum

Dr. Youssef Travaly is the Next Einstein Forum (NEF) Director of Programs and Content – the NEF Lead Scientist. Youssef is in charge of articulating the NEF’s scientific and technological ambitions including managing the policy aspects and Global Gathering program. He also manages the Communities of Scientists. Youssef holds an MBA together with a PhD in Materials Science. Following a 2-year postdoc in the USA working on semiconductor and biomedical research, he joined IMEC, a research centre for next generation electronic devices, and then Ion Beam Application (IBA), the world’s leading integrated solution supplier for cancer treatment to work on cancer treatment solutions by proton therapy.

He was also the chair and co-chair of several international scientific committees and has in-depth experience in managing national, regional and transcontinental initiatives of strategic importance, with multiple stakeholders in a variety of sectors. Before joining NEF, he was managing a multi-country European project on carbon capture and utilization.


Dr. Vinet Coetzee, University of Pretoria 

Dr. Vinet Coetzee is currently a Senior Lecturer at the University of Pretoria. Her research focuses on developing fast, affordable and non-invasive methods to screen children for nutrient deficiencies and inborn conditions, by training computer models to recognise the links between physical features and these conditions.

For instance, Vinet’s team developed an affordable 3D camera at one tenth of the price of comparable commercial systems. Her team is currently using this system to identify the specific facial features associated with Down syndrome in African infants and plan to expand this research to other conditions. The long term aim of the project is to develop a facial screening tool that can help doctors identify a range of conditions more accurately.

She holds a Bachelor of Science and Honours and Master of Science in Genetics from the University of Pretoria, and a PhD from the University of St Andrews, Scotland.


Ms Glaudina Loots,Department of Science and Technology 

Glaudina Loots is the Director for Health Innovation at the Department of Science and Technology in South Africa and as such is responsible for the implementation of the Health components of the recently launched Bioeconomy strategy for South Africa, and concentrates on enabling research and innovation that leads to discovery and evaluation of new drug and treatment regimes, the development of new vaccines and new robust diagnostics for the identified diseases or conditions, as well as the development of medical devices.

The range of research activities that Glaudina encourages as part of her portfolio include the interrogation of indigenous knowledge, basic molecular science and genetics, chemistry and bio-chemistry, biotechnology, nanotechnology, nuclear physics, ICT, manufacturing processes and engineering. Amongst others, Glaudina serves on the South African National Health Research Committee;  the South African National AIDS Council and is a member of the Ministerial Committee on Antimicrobial Resistance. Glaudina is a Board member of The Biovac Institute, a Public-Private-Partnership aimed at the local manufacturing of vaccines and biologics.


Ms Alma Scott, Africa Operations & Partnrships Johnson & Johnson 

Alma Scott is the head of Operations and Partnerships for Johnson & Johnson Global Public Health (GPH), where she draws on more than 25 years of experience in finance, marketing, sales and business development across consumer and pharmaceutical sectors.  Within GPH, Alma established and leads national and regional offices in South Africa, Kenya and Ghana to deliver the Johnson & Johnson GPH market access strategy, and partner with governmental and non-governmental organizations to advance the global public health agenda.

During her tenure with Johnson & Johnson and other pharmaceutical companies, Alma has held leadership roles in finance, marketing, sales and business development. Most recently, she served as Vice President, Janssen Business Development, focused on delivering future growth for the Immunology franchise through licensing and collaborations. Previously, Alma was responsible for business development in Virology, Women’s Health & Urology, and Metabolics.

Alma joined Johnson & Johnson in 1993. She holds a Master of Management degree from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern and a Bachelor of Science in management and human resource development from the University of Connecticut.  Alma is based in Cape Town, South Africa.

By | 2017-12-07T09:46:53+00:00 October 9th, 2017|