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Today, the university has announced the appointment of Dr Aceme Nyika as Director: Research and Innovation – a new position in the University created to strengthen the University’s research management capabilities and the profile of the Division.Dr Aceme Nyika will commence duties on 1 January 2022.

Dr Nyika holds a BSc Honours degree in Biosciences from the University of Zimbabwe, a Master’s in Public Health from the University of Pretoria and a PhD in Veterinary Medical Sciences from the University of Florida. Dr Nyika is currently the Head of Graduate Support, in the Research and Innovation Department at the University of Pretoria. He is responsible for research capacity development, financial support for postgraduate students and the postdoctoral research fellowship programme. Previously, Dr Nyika was a Research Coordinator at the University of the Witwatersrand, Executive Director at Public Health Projects in Africa (PHPAfrica), and a Coordinator at the African Malaria Network (AMANET) that conducted malaria vaccines clinical trials across Africa.

He was also previously a lecturer in Biotechnology at the University of Zimbabwe and a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Florida. Dr Nyika is a member of the Developing World Bioethics Editorial Board. He has published twenty peer-reviewed journal articles and recently published a postgraduate handbook entitled “Postgraduate Handbook: A comprehensive manual for postgraduate students and supervisors”. Dr Nyika has supervised or co-supervised Masters and PhD students, and has been the external or internal examiner for Masters dissertations and PhD theses. He co-authored E-Learning Modules for an online training course (Training and Resources in Research Ethics Evaluation – TRREE) that is accessible online to researchers globally. Dr Nyika has conducted innovative research that has resulted in the invention of nucleic acid vaccines that have been patented and licenced for possible commercialisation. 

He has successfully applied for several international grants. In 2021 he was awarded a grant to conduct research on the COVID-19 pandemic by the COVID-19 Africa Rapid Grant Fund. Dr Nyika has served on several university committees, including as chairperson of the Research Coordinators Committee comprising research coordinators from 18 research entities and from Departments in 7 Schools. 

The Vice-Chancellor, Prof Sakhela Buhlungu expresses his gratitude to Professor Munacinga Simatele for the capable way she managed the portfolio of Acting Director: Research and Innovation, and before that as Acting Dean: Research. "This has been very much appreciated."