Professor Carolyn Williamson is the Head of Division. Carolyn received her PhD in 1988 from the Department of Microbiology, University of Cape Town, where she worked on insect viruses as biological control agents of agricultural pests. Since then Carolyn has worked on viral diseases at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, Johannesburg and then for the South African Institute for Medical Research, Cape Town. In 2000, she was appointed Associate Professor in the Department of Medical Microbiology, University of Cape Town and in 2009 was promoted to Professor in the Division of Medical Virology, University of Cape Town.
Carolyn leads the HIV Diversity and Pathogenesis Group which is involved in elucidating properties of recently transmitted virus, and understanding HIV evolution in response to cellular and antibody immune pressure. This research is relevant to understanding of HIV pathogenesis, and informs the design and evaluation of HIV-1 vaccines. She was a principal investigator on the SAAVI DNA/MVA candidate HIV-1 vaccines evaluated in clinical trial. Carolyn is an executive member of the Centre for AIDS Programme for Research in South Africa (CAPRISA); participates in numerous multi-centre national and international studies including the Collaboration for AIDS Vaccine Discovery (CAVD) and the HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN). She has over 130 peer-reviewed publications in international journals. Carolyn is a member of various Scientific Advisory boards. She is also a Fellow of the University of Cape Town, a Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa and a member of the National Academy of Sciences of South Africa.