Associate Professor Liesl Zühlke, MBChB DCH FCPaeds Cert Card MPH FESC FACC PhD trained as a Paediatric Cardiologist in Cape Town and Dusseldorf, Germany. She has a MPH in clinical research methods, and her doctorate at the University of Cape Town provided new insights on outcomes of symptomatic and asymptomatic Rheumatic Heart Disease.
Prof Zuhlke is widely regarded as an emerging leader in cardiovascular medicine on the African continent. Her major research interests lie in Rheumatic Heart Disease and congenital heart disease. A paediatric cardiologist in the Dept of Pediatric Cardiology at RXH, she worked as the clinical co-coordinator of the ASAP programme, managing several large scale RHD projects in South Africa and on the African continent. In this capacity, she was instrumental in the development, coordination and management of the largest prospective RHD registry the Rheumatic Heart Disease Registry (the REMEDY study) involving 25 sites, in 12 African countries, Yemen and India and is currently the national leader of the INVICTUS study, which aims to enrol over 30 000 RHD patients.
She has received a number of awards including an academic excellence award from Discovery, NIH Fogarty Fellowship, Wellcome CIDRI and Thrasher awards and the Hamilton Naki Post-doctoral Clinical Scholarship, an award given to clinical scholars of excellence. She is the immediate past president of the pediatric cardiac society of South Africa, President of the South African Heart Association and the chairperson of the Pan African Society of Cardiology Paediatric Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery Task force. She was one of the organizers of the 6th World Congress of Paediatric Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery 2013, the World Congress of Cardiology and Cardiovascular Health 2016 and is on the organising committee for the World Congress of Paediatric Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery in 2017. A previous board member of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa, she is now on the board of the Hatter Institute for Cardiovascular Research and is co-director of Rheach (Rheumatic Heart Disease-Evidence, Advocacy, Communication and Hope), the recipient of one of the largest grants from Medtronic Philanthropy for work in Rheumatic heart disease. The initiative will be providing scientific and technical support for Global RHD programmes over the next five years.
She has also recently established a research unit for paediatric and congenital heart disease, the Children’s Heart Disease Research Unit, which is based at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital in Cape Town. She is currently a collaborator with the Institute of Health Metrics (IHME) and co-author on several Global Burden of Disease publications. She is involved in research projects spanning congenital and Rheumatic Heart disease, HIV in adolescents, Grown-up Congenital heart disease and cardiac disease in women of childbearing age. She has leveraged funding for several major research projects in South Africa and the rest of Africa, with new collaborations internationally, the recent being an MRCUK Global Challenges Research Fund – Foundation Award with colleagues at Manchester university.