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Personalia:  Born 6 October 1955. Married to Deborah Posel, They have two children - Jess and Ilan. Lives in Cape Town South Africa.



  • MBBCh (University of Witwatersrand, 1979)

  • BA Politics, Philosophy, Economics (Oxon, 1983)

  • MSc Community Health in Developing Countries (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, 1986)

  • Diploma in Occupational Health (University of Witwatersrand, 1993)

  • Professional registrations: Registered medical practitioner with the South African Medical and Dental Professions Board since 1980 and with the (British) General Medical Council 1981 to ±2000


Awards: Abridged list

  • Rhodes Scholarship (1980-1983)

  • Top MSc student (LSHTM, 1986)

  • Epidemiology medal (Wits, 1991)

  • Four Outstanding Young South Africans (FOYSA) Award (1992)

  • Fellowship ad eundum of Faculty of Public Health Medicine of the Colleges of Medicine of South Africa (Oct. 2004)

  • Takemi Fellowship in International Health, Harvard School of Public Health (1994-5)


  • Sabbatical, University of Cape Town (July 2018 – present)

  • Vice-Chancellor (President), University of Cape Town (July 2008 – June 2018)

  • Independent consultant in the fields of public health, health policy, human resources for health, medical education, tertiary institutions, public-private partnerships. Major time consultancies for the national Department of Education on financing of medical education and for philanthropic foundations on funding strategies in the health sector (2006-2008).

  • Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences (Medical School), University of the Witwatersrand (1996 – 2006) and member of University’s Senior Executive Team

  • Centre for Health Policy, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits)

    • Senior researcher (1988 – 1992)

    • Director (1992 – 1995) 

  • Research fellow in health economics at London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (1986-7)

  • Clinical work in hospitals and rural primary health care project (1980, 1984, 1985)


Teaching and supervision experience

  • Taught undergraduate medical students in public health and paediatrics; postgraduate Masters in Public Health in epidemiology, health economics and health policy

  • Supervised/co-supervised PhDs, Masters dissertations and external examiner for Masters and PhDs.

Research and publications:  39 refereed journal articles, international and local; refereed monograph;  3 refereed chapters; over 100 other research reports, articles and academic conference papers. Fields covered include health systems research, political economy of health; health economics and financing; privatisation and medical aids; rural health services; computer simulation modelling of health systems; medical and health professional education and human resources for health, higher education. See  publications and citations on Google Scholar.


National and international leadership in higher education

  • Universities South Africa (USAf – organisation representing all SA public universities): member of Board 2008-2018; Vice-chairperson 2012- 2015; Chair Universities Funding Strategy Group (July 2017 – June 2018); Member of USAf Executive (2012-2015; 2017 - 2018);

  • Member of the Global Universities Leaders’ Forum (GULF) - a community of 25 university presidents and vice-chancellors within the World Economic Forum that meets annually at the Davos meeting and at regional meetings – I was the only representative from Africa (2009 – 2018)

  • Worldwide Universities Network (comprising 20 research universities from around the world covering all continents, that promotes collaborative research between network members, and student and staff mobility): Chairperson of the Board comprising all University Presidents 2014 –2016; Vice Chairperson 2013-2014 and 2016-2017

  • Member of the Council (governing body) of the University of Ghana, Legon (2011 - 2018)

  • Co-founder and first chair of African Research Universities Alliance – created to strengthen links between research universities in Africa (formally launched in Senegal in March 2015).

  • As the head of the leading university in Africa, and one of the top 200 globally, I was often asked to participate in global higher education fora as a representative of African universities, or South African universities. For example, I am one of the ten University presidents who constitute the external members of the Global Council of Hanban, the Headquarters of the Confucius Institutes.

  • In addition, there were many formal and informal links and visits to universities outside South Africa to promote bilateral partnerships


Thought leadership: Many opinion pieces published nationally and internationally, keynote addresses, radio and television talks on higher education and research; frequently interviewed by national and international media.

As Vice-Chancellor, I was invited to deliver numerous keynote speeches. Examples of more distinguished conferences and public lectures are:

  • Keynote speaker at the conference on higher education and globalisation, part of the programme marking the centennial of Tsinghua University, 2011

  • Public guest lecture, London School of Economics, 2011, titled: “Poverty and Inequality in South Africa since 1994”

  • Public lecture in Lagos, Nigeria, 2011, on “The state of research universities in Africa and what needs to be done”

  • Invited to deliver eponymous Neville Alexander Memorial Lecture at the Africa Centre at Harvard University in 2014, titled: “De-racializing the South African System of Higher Education: A Debate with Neville Alexander”

  • Presenter and panellist at conference on Slavery and Universities, Radcliffe College, Harvard University, 2017, titled: “Addressing institutional culture at UCT: #RhodesMustFall and the legacy of colonialism”

  • Keynote speaker on developments in medical education: International Forum on Medical Education hosted at Sun Yat Sen University, Guanzhou, China December 2018

Other professional activities and appointments:

  • While a student in the 1970s, deeply involved in anti-apartheid student politics and activism, president of the Students’ Representative Council, Executive member of the National Union of South African Students

  • Member and executive positions in National Medical and Dental Association (an anti-apartheid alternative to the mainstream Medical Association of South Africa), 1984-92

  • Chair of Ministerial Committee on Health Care Financing, 1994

  • Member of Ministerial Committee on National Health Insurance, 1995

  • Member, WHO/FAO/UNDP Tropical Disease Research programme (TDR) special task force on impact of health financing reform on tropical diseases,1996-1999

  • Chairperson of the national Committee of Medical Deans, 1998-2002

  • Member of the Medical and Dental Professions Board of SA, 1999 – 2010

  • Chair of the Medical and Dental Professions Board sub-committee on Undergraduate Education and Training, responsible for accrediting all medical and dental programmes in SA, 2005-2010

  • Member of Health Professions Council of SA, 2007- 2010

  • Member of Expert Committee to evaluate new medical school in Mauritius, 2005

  • Editorial Board, Bulletin of the World Health Organisation: The International Journal of Public Health, 1999- 2010

  • Occasional referee for the S.A. Journal of Epidemiology and Infection, the South African Medical Journal, Journal of Health Policy and Planning, Social Science and Medicine, Medical Education

  • Appointed by Minister (2012) with one other VC to review the merger of two universities – recommended their separation which is now implemented

  • Director, Health e-News (NGO promoting mass media coverage of health related news) 2000-2008

  • Director, Aurum Institute for Health Research (Not-for-profit AIDS/TB research organisation) 2006-2008

  • Member of the Board of Directors of CORC (Community Organisation Resources Centre, an NGO that supports community-based organizations by facilitating internal processes and external engagements with formal actors like the government departments and funders, concerned particularly with informal housing, micro-credit organisations, homelessness)

  • Appointed as Member Expert Commission, Fondation Botnar, March 2019

  • Trustee, Discovery Health Medical Scheme Board (2022 - )

  • Scholar-in-Residence, Atlantic Institute, Oxford and South Africa

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