Jeannine Heckmann is an Associate Professor of Neurology at the University of Cape Town. Her areas of research relate to neuromuscular diseases and especially aspects of these diseases which are particular to populations of South Africa. These include myasthenia gravis (MG), motor neurone disease (MND/ALS) and related disorders as well as other neuromuscular diseases affecting African populations. Over the past 10 years her research group has focused on the molecular underpinnings of the ophthalmoplegic subphenotype of MG. This MG subphenotype, which becomes apparent as a treatment-resistant ophthalmoplegia, is almost unique to MG subjects with African genetic ancestry and is functionally disabling. Her group’s research interest in MND/ALS started in 2014 and is expanding; the group at the University of Cape Town (UCT) is in active research collaboration with the MND/ALS clinic at Tygerburg Hospital, also in Cape Town; together they embarked 4 years ago on the first ever ALS incidence study to be performed in Africa. In addition, in 2017 the UCT group joined the CreATe consortium, an international research effort to discover new treatment targets in ALS and related disorders. The UCT group is also active in establishing research tools which can be implemented for the use and study of ALS patient in South Africa.

Dr Franclo Henning qualified as neurologist from Stellenbosch University in 2005, after which he completed a fellowship in neuromuscular medicine at University Medical Centre, Utrecht, Netherlands in 2006. Since 2007 he has been a consultant in the Division of Neurology, Stellenbosch University, where he is a lecturer in neurology. He runs a neuromuscular service with specific interests in muscle disorders and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis / motor neuron disease (ALS/MND). He has been national chairperson of the MND/ALS Association of South Africa since 2008, and has also served on the Lysosomal Storage Diseases medical advisory board. His current research interests include mechanisms of weakness in muscle disease and the epidemiology of ALS/MND, in particular the influence of ethnicity on the epidemiology and clinical features.

Andre Mochan is Associate Professor of Neurology at the University of the Witwatersrand and Clinical Head of Neurology at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital. His research interests focus on neurological diseases relevant to the South African population’s context including neurological involvement of HIV infection, stroke and peripheral neuromuscular disorders. The neuromuscular group at Chris Hani Baragwanath follows a large cohort of neuro-immunology patients with inflammatory neuropathies. The addition of a specialized and dedicated MND/ALS service from 2014 has expanded the group’s research into the epidemiology and characterization of this condition particularly in the black African population served at the institution. The group is aligned to the “sister” clinics at Tyberberg and Groote Schuur Hospitals. The research endeavors to gain more knowledge and develop better understanding of MND/ALS in the South African context and ultimately allow our patients, clinicians and scientists access to the wider international ALS community and contribute to the international research efforts from the South African perspective.