Prof Tulio de Oliveira

Deputy Director, Genomic Surveillance Unit

Tulio heads the Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation (CERI) at Stellenbosch University. He joined the Genomic Surveillance Unit in 2023 to reinforce the strategic partnership in genomic surveillance of infectious diseases between the UK and South Africa. The teams at CERI and the GSU both carried out critical work during the COVID-19 pandemic, and now aim to accelerate the use of genomic surveillance for multiple pathogens in order to inform public health responses and save lives.

Prof Tulio de Oliveira has over 20 years experience working with disease outbreaks, including HIV, Hepatitis B and C, Chikungunya, Dengue, SARS-CoV-2, Zika, and Yellow Fever. He continues this work as the director of the Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation (CERI) at Stellenbosch University and the KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform (KRISP) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

In 2021, Tulio was included in Nature’s 10 and in 2022 in the TIME 100 most influential people list, in acknowledgement of his work tracking variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. In 2022, he was awarded the German Africa Prize and in 2023 he received the Order of Merit Medal of Portugal (with a title of Commander).

Tulio has a particular interest in how climate change impacts the spread of infectious diseases, and is a leading voice within the CLIMADE consortium. In December 2023, he presented CLIMADE’s findings at a major symposium focusing on climate change and health at COP28 – the first such health event to feature in the annual COP meetings.

In January 2024, Tulio was appointed Deputy Director of the Sanger Institute’s Genomic Surveillance Unit as part of a strategic partnership with CERI.

Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation (CERI)

CERI works to identify new variants of pathogens and advance basic and translational science, with an aim to improve prevention, treatment, and vaccines for human disease in Africa.

As the director of CERI, Tulio leads a team of scientists, clinicians, and public health officials. CERI’s vision is to effectively respond to epidemics through the genomic surveillance of pathogens. By doing so, the team aims to enhance biomedical discovery, improve treatment, diagnosis and prevention of human disease, and generate economic opportunities for Africa.

CERI brings together world-class scientists to form the largest Genomics Centre in Africa. CERI collaborates with leading research organisations as part of the Network for Genomic Surveillance in South Africa (NGS-SA), a collaboration that has led to South Africa being one of the leading examples in the world for the application of genomics surveillance to SARS-CoV-2 and other pathogens.

CERI was formally established in 2022, following the team’s work during the COVID-19 pandemic. It has sequenced over 32,000 pathogen genomes to date, encompassing 26 different pathogens. Areas of interest for CERI currently include vaccine evaluation, antimicrobial resistance, and the future of computational intelligence and bioinformatics.

My timeline