Dr Clive Shiff

Dr Clive Shiff
Dr Clive Shiff

Distinguished Alumni Award 2018

South African-trained Dr Clive Shiff is one of the most experienced full-time researchers and lecturers in America’s entire health sector. Dr Shiff completed an MSc in Zoology and Entomology in 1956 and a PhD in 1964 at Rhodes University. He serves as a Professor at Johns Hopkins within the Molecular Microbiology and Immunology Department.

The Rhodes University alumnus has been a key member of teams that have crushed the tsetse fly as a public health threat in Southern Africa which now has a data-enriched handle on the malaria and bilharzia parasites. As a young researcher and field officer, Dr Shiff helped develop several life-saving innovations, including low-cost hygienic pit latrines and simple environmental interventions for village water supplies. In his current role at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Dr Shiff has lead key research in the relationship between bilharzia (now called schistosomiasis) and bladder cancer and remains an investigator at the Malaria Institute in Macha, Zambia. This functions as a core facility for the Research community at Johns Hopkins University, with a focus on field research. He has successfully championed an environmental, Africa-specific model for the West’s response to African parasitic diseases.

Dr Shiff has contributed to a number of research findings including: The Diagnosis of both African species of schistosomes by detection of specific DNA fragments from filtered urine samples; Rural health centres, communities and malaria case detection in Zambia using mobile telephones: a means to detect potential reservoirs of infection in unstable transmission conditions; Sensitivities and Specificities of Diagnostic Tests and Infection Prevalence of Schistosoma haematobium estimated from data on adults in villages north west of Accra, Ghana; PCR detection of Plasmodium falciparum in human urine and saliva samples and the Clinical Utility of squamous and transitional nuclear structure alterations induced by Schistosoma haematobium in chronical infected adults with bladder damage verified by ultrasound in Ghana.

Dr Shiff is currently working with colleagues in Argentina to improve the diagnosis of Strongyloides stercoralis by detection of DNA fragments in urine.

Dr Shiff initiated a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) in collaboration with five of his colleagues, to support science and scientific training in Zimbabwe at the Biomedical Research and Training Organisation (BRTI).  The original vision of the BRTI in 1995, was for it to become a sustainable project administered by scientists and managers working principally within Africa. Since then, the BRTI has not just survived but has grown into a vibrant and strong Zimbabwean institution that has made a significant contribution to health and development.

Dr Shiff was twice President of the Rhodesia Scientific Association, a body that originated in 1896 and represented the wide range of scientists who contributed greatly to the development of local science. Due to his expertise, he holds a position within the World Health Organization (WHO) Expert Committee on Integrated Vector Control, and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Committee on DDT and its use against malaria.

Dr Shiff is a member of the Rhodes University Trust USA Board. His selfless character and appreciation of the institution are what makes Rhodes University proud to award him the Distinguished Alumni award.