Lebo Gafane-Matemane (South Africa)

Associate Professor of Physiology

North-West University, Hypertension in Africa Research Team, South Africa
South African Medical Research Council Extramural Unit for Hypertension and Cardiovascular Disease

What is your role at your work?

I am responsible for research and teaching of postgraduate students at the Department of Physiology and Hypertension in Africa Research. I am also a Community Engagement Champion and a member of the Health Research Ethics Committee in the Faculty of Health Sciences.

How did you get interested in your career path?

I have always been interested in how the human body functions. Learning about the unique aspects of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system in Africans, and later the growing burden of hypertension in Sub-Saharan Africa fuelled my commitment to understanding and tackling hypertension and cardiovascular disease.

What are you most proud of in your career or otherwise?

I am proud of myself for never giving up, no matter how tough the journey becomes. Experience and wisdom are gained throughout time and the process.

What important career challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them?

As a basic scientist, trying to conduct research that can impact policy has been the most challenging aspect of my research career. Doing this while caring for a big young family would not be possible without the support from my family, mentors and most importantly being intentional about my plans despite the difficulties.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Focus, be consistent, and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Sometimes you need to give yourself time and trust the process, especially when breaking new ground in research. Learn to trust your team to achieve more. It doesn’t matter how brilliant you are, you need a team to transform ideas into reality.

Highlight your most significant research contributions and publications (3-5) – if relevant to you.
1. Craig A, Gafane-Matemane LF, Smith W, et al. Elevated blood pressure positively associates with alpha-1 microglobulin in prepubescent children: the ExAMIN Youth SA study. J Hypertens. 2022; 40:136-42.
2. Gafane-Matemane LF, Kruger R, Smith W, et al. Characterization of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system in young healthy black adults: African-PREDICT Study. Hypertension. 2021;78:400-10.
3. Gafane-Matemane LF, Mokae NL, Breet Y,et al. Associations of central and peripheral blood pressure with the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system in healthy young adults: the African-PREDICT study. Hypertens Res; 2021 44:435–445.

Have you had any significant career mentors? If yes, please provide further details.

I have had several mentors since my MSc, some of them through the ISH, and are world leaders in hypertension research. These amazing individuals continue to support my growth in various aspects, including conducting locally and internationally relevant research, funding, building collaborations, and social responsiveness.

How can we support the next generation of women scientists?

Engage women scientists from different parts of the world especially during early career stages to address context-specific needs. Diversity and inclusion should be accompanied by fostering a sense of belonging so that underrepresented groups can feel valued and make meaningful contributions to science, especially in international bodies and leadership positions.