Lawrence Mashimbye

Someone once told Lawrence Mashimbye that success is never an accident. The 28-year-old epidemiologist couldn’t agree more. He worked hard to get to where he is today — leading studies on the prevention of infectious diseases at the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute (WRHI). Mashimbye, who matriculated from Mavalani High School in Limpopo, won awards for everything from academic excellence to good behaviour and neat attire. He then graduated with a BSc Medical Sciences cum laude from the University of Limpopo before completing a master’s in Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of the Witwatersrand. While he was working as a research analyst in a consultancy firm it became his job to monitor and evaluate health programmes locally, as well as in Botswana and Mozambique. Mashimbye has long had a special interest in TB and HIV research and his hard work in the field has yielded results. His research into a strain of TB that was resisting treatment among patients attending district hospitals in Limpopo resulted in patients being screened for drug-resistant TB before being treated. In 2009 a study he conducted in rural Mpumalanga revealed that older HIV-infected males, especially those who drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes, were less responsive to TB treatment. Today, people in this category receive more support and more follow-up visits. In 2012 Mashimbye joined the WRHI, where his work as a researcher and project manager focuses on the wellbeing of young people. He takes his work seriously, knowing that lives depend on it. “The piece of work I do could be a drop in an ocean, but combined with work from other researchers helps contribute to prevention of sicknesses and death,” he says. This is also the reason he continually strives for quality and excellence in his work. “I tell myself that whatever I do should be the best I ever did in my life.” — Fatima Asmal