Vathiswa Papu-Zamxaka

  • Head of Project Management & Patient Recruitment, Synexus Clinical Research
  • University of Cape Town, Health


Vathiswa is a scientist with over a decade of experience in the field of Public Health research. She has and an impressive array of academic qualifications and professional accolades under her belt. She completed her BSc (Hons) at the University of Cape Town in 2003 on a Canon Collins scholarship before pursuing further studies in Sweden and the UK, and going on to undertake and manage a number of important medical research projects in South Africa concerning pollution, water and hygiene. In a radio interview, Vathiswa gives an account of her academic, professional and personal journey so far, discussing her early love for maths and science, her basic primary education in the rural Eastern Cape, and her journey to overcome bureaucratic and financial barriers to pursuing higher education. Her passion for the importance of promoting women in science, technology and positions of leadership in South Africa comes across clearly. Now Head of Project Management and Patient Recruitment at Synexus Clinical Research Company, South Africa, and a Board member of both the National Research Foundation and Sci-Bono Discovery Centre, Vathiswa knows that she wouldn’t have gotten to where she is today without her own hard-work, drive and talent, nor without the support of a number of educational bursaries and scholarships. Vathiswa is committed to giving back and has recently established the Esther-Maledzi Non-Profit Company, a social justice initiative that aims to support higher educational opportunities for young people from disadvantaged communities.

Greatest Achievement

The incredibly hard work that resulted in the securing of financial support to further her education through bursaries and scholarships from the age of 13.

Professional Interests

Public Health, Executive management, career development of young people.