Professor Liesl Zühlke is the Vice-President of the South African Medical Research Council- Extramural Research and Internal portfolio (ER-IP), a paediatric cardiologist in the Division of Paediatric Cardiology at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital and director the Children’s Heart Disease Research Unit focused on family-centred research into Children’s Heart Diseases of relevance in Africa. Her research projects span Congenital and Rheumatic Heart Disease, HIV in adolescents, Grown-up Congenital Heart Disease and cardiac disease in women of childbearing age. She was the 2018 recipient of the MRC/Dfid African Research Leader Award, a finalist in the 22nd National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF)-South32 Awards for the category: TW Kambule-NSTF Award: Researcher and is designated one of the top three international scholars in RHD research. She was the 2020 recipient of the NRF award for public engagement with research and the recipient of the Metrodora Award in 2022 for Public Health Leadership in Science and Medicine. In addition to her medical degrees, Liesl holds an MPH in clinical research methods and PhD both from the University of Cape Town as well as an MSc in Health Economics, Outcomes and Management of Cardiovascular Sciences from the London School of Economics and an honorary Laureate from Cornerstone Institute , the largest private University in South Africa.
Prof Zühlke is a past-president of the South African Heart Association, past-president of the Paediatric Cardiac Society of South Africa, and immediate chair and co-chair of both the PASCAR PANPACH (Paediatric and Congenital Cardiology) and Rheumatic Heart Disease Task Forces respectively. Internationally she serves as President of Reach (Rheumatic Heart Disease, Evidence, Advocacy, Communication and Hope), is a board member of the World Heart Federation, a medical advisory committee member of Children's Heart Link, an international advisory committee member of Global ARCH as well as an executive member of SAVAC, the global Strep A vaccine consortium.
Liesl is passionate about the prioritization of women and children in the Global health agenda, both as co-creators and recipients of efforts to improve the lives of women and children across the world. She was the only commissioner from Africa included in the Lancet Commission for Cardiovascular Disease in women, and has published over scientific 160 papers (including in Lancet, NEJM, Circulation and EHJ) , reports and book chapters with over 40 000 citations.