Professor Bongani Mayosi (1967–2018): a tribute

This week we heard the deeply sad news that Professor Bongani Mayosi has died. Wellcome’s Director of Science Jim Smith pays tribute to a world-renowned scientist.

Professor Bongani Mayosi

Credit: University of Cape Town

Professor Bongani Mayosi: a visionary research leader.

Bongani was a highly regarded clinical research scientist from South Africa who made a huge contribution to the inception of the H3Africa initiative, which is jointly funded by Wellcome and the US National Institutes of Health.

In his most recent role as Dean at the University of Cape Town, Bongani led the faculty of health sciences. He was also an adviser on policy and strategy for health research to the South African Ministry of Health.

His rare skill of bringing together different disciplines and specialties transformed both his own career and the field of public health research in sub-Saharan Africa. He was a visionary research leader with a modest demeanour and a great sense of humour.

As Chair of H3Africa’s non-communicable diseases working group, he helped to shape its scientific direction and philosophy. H3Africa has achieved global recognition for its success in bringing genomic science to the African continent.

Bongani had a close relationship with Wellcome that began with the completion of his PhD in cardiovascular genetics at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics in Oxford in 2003. He continued to be a Wellcome grantholder and sponsor thereafter.

With his medical background, and his broad knowledge of non-communicable diseases and expertise in cardio-metabolic genetic epidemiology, Bongani was an invaluable member of Wellcome’s Population Health Expert Review Group.

His death is a tragic loss for the scientific community in South Africa and beyond, and he will be greatly missed.