Laser Research Centre Team

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Laser Research Centre Director: Prof. Heidi Abrahamse

Prof. Abrahamse BSc (RAU), BSc Honours (Biochemistry; US and Psychology; UNISA), MSc (Medical Biochemistry; US), PhD (Molecular biology/Biochemistry; Wits University), Executive Leadership (Gibs, UP) is currently the Director of the Laser Research Centre, UJ and DST/NRF SARChI Chair for Laser Applications in Health (2016-2025).

Her research interests include photobiology and photochemistry with specific reference to Photodynamic cancer therapy and Photobiomodulation. She was the recipient of the Faculty of Health Sciences highest research output for 2009 and the University of Johannesburg Vice-Chancellor’s Distinguished Award for Outstanding Researcher of the Year, 2010 and again in 2020 and the NLC Rental pool grant-holder best research output for 2008, most masters graduates 2013 and most IP produced 2013 and most doctorate graduates, 2014. She was runner up to the DST WISA Distinguished Scientist in Life Science award in 2015 and was granted a DST/NRF SARChI chair in 2016 which was renewed for another 5 years in 2020. In 2019 she received the International Photodynamic Association Humanitarian award recognize those who have made selfless efforts and personal sacrifices to enhance and promote the science of Photodynamic therapy.

She has supervised 58 masters; 33 doctorates and 22 post-doctorate fellows. She has acted as external examiner for masters and doctorate theses from several national and international universities and has an impressive record for external grant applications. Her international standing as a researcher of distinction is supported by the fact that she has hosted 4 international conferences including the World Association for Laser Therapy, Photodynamic therapy conference supported by the DST SA/Germany year of science, a Phototherapy workshop and Biophotonics in Cancer symposium. She has co-chaired 3 BRICS meetings in 2020, 2021 Brazil and 2021, Russia.

She was the president of the international society, WALT for 2010 to 2012. She has been invited to present her research at several international conferences as invited, keynote or plenary presenter. Her society membership include: SASBMB; ASBMB; ASCB; ISO; WALT; OSA; WALA; EMLA; NAALT; and ISLA. She has acted as external and panel reviewer for external national and international funding bodies and grants and played an instrumental role in negotiating memorandums of understanding with several international institutions.  Her publication record is impressive with 240 peer reviewed accredited journal publications, 57 accredited full paper proceedings, 49 chapters and 2 books. She is currently a B2 NRF rated scientist with a Scopus H-index of 37, Google scholar H-index of 43 and a ResearchGate score of 42. She serves on international councils, executive committees and board of directors including the World Association for Laser Therapy, World Academy of Laser Applications, European Medical Laser Association and the African Laser Centre and serves on the editorial boards of 8 peer-reviewed internationally accredited journals while acting as reviewer for over 50 journals. She was appointed Co-Editor in Chief of the international accredited journal Photobiomodulation, Photomedicine and Laser Surgery.

Her academic career spanning more than 20 years from junior lecturer at Wits University to research professor at UJ, provide her with substantial experience in tertiary education, lecturing and research. She has lectured 6 different subjects from first year to fourth year level. She serves on a number of research-related university committees (incl. Faculty Board and Management, Faculty Higher Degrees and Ethics, Senate Higher Degrees) for both universities and science councils (UJ/CSIR Steering) and World Health Organization International EMF Project – South Africa National Committee. She currently serves her second term on the University of Johannesburg Council as elected Senate representative and was appointed by the Minister of Health to serve on the National Health Research Committee of South Africa for 2020-2023. She is a member of the Academy of Science Of South Africa (ASSAf).

Prof. Michael R. Hamblin (PhD)

Laser Research Centre: Distinguished Visiting Professor (2015-2024)

NRF SARChI Chair: Laser Applications in Health

Prof Hamblin was a Principal Investigator at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, an Associate Professor of Dermatology at Harvard Medical School for 25 years, and is now a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Laser Research Centre, University of Johannesburg, South Africa, and is also affiliated faculty at Radiation Biology Research Center, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran. He gained his PhD in organic chemistry from Nottingham Trent University in England. His research interests include photodynamic therapy, photobiomodulation, drug delivery, nanomedicine, and tissue engineering. His research program was supported by NIH, CDMRP, USAFOSR and CIMIT. He has published over 720 peer-reviewed articles, over 150 conference proceedings, book chapters and International abstracts and holds 10 patents. He is Editor-in Chief of “Photobiomodulation, Photomedicine and Laser Surgery”, Associate Editor for 10 journals, on the editorial board of a further 60 journals. He has an h-factor 142 and > 80,000 citations. He has authored/edited 36 textbooks on PDT, photomedicine, and nanomedicine including 13 SPIE proceedings. Dr Hamblin was elected as a Fellow of SPIE in 2011, received the 1st Endre Mester Lifetime Achievement Award from NAALT in 2017, the Outstanding Career Award from the Dose Response Society, the 1st Ali Javan award for Photobiomodulation Basic Science Research from WALT in 2018, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from European Medical Laser Association in 2022.

Prof Nicolette Nadene Houreld, D. Tech (Biomedical Technology)

Professor: Laser Research Centre

NRF SARChI Deputy Chair: Laser Applications in Health

Prof Nicolette is a Research Professor at the Laser Research Centre, within the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Johannesburg, and is the Deputy Chair-holder of SARChI Chair in Laser Applications in Health. She is the niche co-ordinator for wound healing research within the centre, and her research interests lie in the field of biophotonics where she investigates the molecular and cellular effects of photobiomodulation on diabetic wound healing and laser tissue interaction. Prof Houreld is a NRF C1 rated scientist with a Scopus h-index of 27. Prof Houreld’s contributions to the scientific development of the field of photobiomodulation have included over 100 scientific publications which are all well cited. Over the last five years she has published 43 journal articles in high-ranking international journals and contributed towards five conference proceedings and seven book chapters. In 2021 Prof Houreld was listed in the world’s top 2% most widely cited scientists and has a five-year Field-Weighted Citation Impact of 1.42, which is 42% more than average. Her international standing and contribution to the field of photobiomodulation are well recognised, as is seen by her position on the executive committee of the World Association for photobiomoduLation Therapy (WALT) since 2010, where she is the current president elect. She also serves on the editorial board of the international journal Photobiomodulation, Photomedicine, and Laser Surgery. She is currently a guest editor for a special issue entitled “Molecular Research of Photobiomodulation”, in collaboration with the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, a Q1 journal in the category Biochemistry & Molecular Biology. Prof Houreld has been invited to present several plenary/keynote lectures and other presentations at international conferences and workshops, reviews for several international journals, and serves as an external and panel reviewer for funding bodies and scientific agencies. Prof Houreld collaborates both nationally and internationally, and has attracted external funding on an annual basis since 2011. She serves on various research-related university committees, where she is the Deputy Vice Chair of the faculty Research Ethics Committee and is a senate representative on the Senate Research Ethics Committee. Prof Houreld has supervised numerous post-graduate students, and over the last five years graduated 5 Masters students, of which 4 graduated cum laude, and 3 doctoral students, and supervised 4 post-doctoral fellows.

Prof Blassan P. George, PhD (Biotechnology)
Laser Research Centre: Associate Professor
NRF SARChI Chair: Laser Applications in Health

Dr. Blassan P. George (MSc, MPhil, PhD) is a Researcher at Laser Research Centre (LRC), Faculty of Health Sciences, the University of Johannesburg (UJ) under the directorship of Prof. Heidi Abrahamse. His research interest highlights the anticancer properties of medicinal plants and Phyto photodynamic therapy of cancer. He had worked as a postdoctoral research fellow at LRC. He completed PhD in Biotechnology from Bharathiar University, India. He has worked as a lecturer at the Department of Biotechnology, CMS College of Science and Commerce, Coimbatore, India and lectured molecular biology, biochemistry, immunology, proteomics and genomics, microbial and industrial biotechnology. He conducts lectures on cell biology/biochemistry for biomedical science students at the University of Johannesburg.

He received an NRF Y1 rating in 2021. He has secured external and internal funding from National Research Foundation (NRF), South Africa, South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), Department of Science and Technology (DST), India, African Laser Centre (ALC) and University Research Committee (URC). Currently, he is investigating the effect of Vaccinium, Rubus, Dicoma, Melia species on various cancer cells, the role of cannabidiol, homeopathic mother tinctures in enhancing the photodynamic therapy effects and phototoxic effect of a photosensitizer on multi-drug resistant human breast cancer cell line. He received international travel grant awards from the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India, NRF KIC and has presented the research findings in more than 25 international and national conferences.

He acted as external examiner for masters dissertations and doctoral thesis and a reviewer for 20 international peer-reviewed journals. He is a guest editor for Frontiers in Pharmacology. He serves on UJ, Faculty of Health Sciences Research Ethics and Higher Degree Committees. Dr George has supervised 9 master’s, and 3 doctorate students, and 3 postdoctoral research fellows. He has published 47 research articles in peer-reviewed international journals and 15 book chapters and 3 conference proceedings to date. He has a Scopus H-index of 14, Google scholar H-index of 17 and ResearchGate score of 30.89. He has co-hosted an international symposium on ‘Biophotonics in cancer’ attended by 150 people at UJ in 2019. His professional body membership includes the South African Council for Natural Scientific Professions (SACNASP), The South African Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (SASBMB).

Prof Chukuka Enwemeka (Ph.D)

Dr. Chukuka S. Enwemeka is Emeritus Professor and Director of Photomedicine Research Laboratory, College of Health and Human Services, San Diego State University (SDSU), San Diego, California, Emeritus Distinguished Professor and Emeritus Dean, University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Professor Enwemeka served as Provost and Senior Vice President of SDSU and is the Founding President/Vice Chancellor of James Hope University, Lagos, Nigeria. He is also appointed as a visiting Professor in
the Laser Research Centre, Faculty of Health Sciences at the Univer sity of
Johannesburg. He earned his Ph.D. from New York University, and is a Fellow of both
the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Society for Laser Medicine
and Surgery. He is a past President of the World Association for Laser Therapy (WALT)
and a F ounder and P ioneer C hairman of the North American Association for Laser
Therapy ( NAALT). Prof. Enwemeka is the author of more than 100 research and
professional publications w ith a Scopus h index of 34 and holds four US and international patents on photo-eradication of microorganism with blue light. As an international figure his academic engagements have taken him to more than 40 countries. Selected media coverage of his works includes reports by Reuters, CBS News, United Press International (UPI), Entrepreneur, Photonics, Forbes, Fox Business News, Science Daily News, WebMD, The Nigerian Guardian, Gulf News, Daily India, and interviews by




Peer Interviews, Nice France

Dr Sathish Sundar Dhilip Kumar PhD (Biotechnology)

Laser Research Centre: Researcher/Lecturer

NRF SARChI Chair: Laser Applications in Health

Sathish Sundar Dhilip Kumar is a Researcher/Lecturer at Laser Research Centre, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Johannesburg. He has interests in the application of nanoparticle-based drug delivery systems in photodynamic therapy and photobiomodulation. He has published 25 peer-reviewed articles, is a certified “Professional Natural Scientist” in the field of practice “Biological Science” from South African Council for Natural Scientific Professions (SACNASP). He serves as an Editorial member for “Artificial cells, Nanomedicine and Biotechnology – Taylor and Francis Group (IF: 5.678)” and an ad hoc reviewer for 10 different publishers. He has an h-index of 12 and >800 citations. He has authored 3 book chapters and 3 conference proceedings. Dr Dhilip Kumar was awarded as a Claude Leon Fellow from Claude Leon Foundation in 2017 and funded for two consecutive years (2017 & 2018), received RECOGNITION OF EXCELLENCE award from University of Johannesburg for outstanding achievement in research and academic citizenship in the postdoctoral research fellow programme in 2018.

Dr Anine Crous, PhD (Biomedical Technology)

Laser Research Centre / Biomedical Science: Researcher / Lecturer

Dr Anine Crous is a young researcher at the Laser Research Centre and lecturer at the department of Biomedical Sciences in the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Johannesburg, South Africa. Her research interests are in phototherapy, more precisely Photodynamic Therapy (PDT), Photobiomodulation (PBM), stem cells, cancer stem cells (CSCs), and gold nanoparticle antibody conjugates. She has 14 accredited journal publications, published 6 chapters and 6 published proceedings. Dr Crous also peer reviews for various international scientific journals. She has a Scopus citation of 96 and H-index of 6, and a Google scholar h-index of 6 and >145 citations. Dr Crous is a guest editor for JoVE, a peer-reviewed scientific journal that publishes experimental methods in video format.  She has co-supervised two master’s students graduated cum-laude and one PhD candidate. Dr Crous has received a collaboration grant from the African laser Centre, postgraduate scholarships from the National Research Foundation (NRF), Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA), South African Research Chairs Initiative SARChI and held an NRF Scare Skills Postdoctoral Fellowship. She was an emerging leader scholar 2022 in the department of Industrial Psychology and People Management. Dr Crous has presented her research at 14 conferences nationally and internationally. She is a member of The Optical Society (OSA), World Association for photobiomodulation Therapy (WALT), International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR), The South African Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (SASBMB), The International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE) and South African Council for Natural Scientific Professions (SACNASP). Other achievements include receiving Postdoctoral Fellows Research Excellence Awards for 2020 and 2021; the ISSCR 2021 Zhongmei Chen Young Awards for Scientific Excellence; University of Johannesburg Faculty of Health Sciences Top Achievers Award 2020; Postdoctoral Certificate of excellence from the Laser Research Centre 2020; international poster presentation awards; 2019 Top Achievers Doctoral Award for outstanding achievement; was a finalist for the University of Johannesburg Three Minute Thesis Competition in 2018 and the winner of the cross faculty 2-minute dissertation competition 2016.

Dr Rahul Chandran, PhD (Botany)

Laser Research Centre: Researcher / Lecturer

NRF SARChI Chair: Laser Applications in Health

Rahul Chandran is a Lecturer at the Laser Research Centre, Faculty of Health Sciences. He joined the Laser Research Centre, at the University of Johannesburg in 2016 as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow. He completed his Masters and PhD in India with a special focus on herbal medicine. His research interests include phytomedicine, stem cell differentiation and photodynamic therapy of cancer. He has more than 40 publications, including research articles, book chapters, and conference proceedings on pharmacology, phytochemistry, stem cells, photomedicine, nutritional sciences and cell biology in peer-reviewed international journals. He has a Scopus H-index of 10, ResearchGate and Google Scholar H-index of 15. He has also presented research outputs at several international and national conferences and seminars. He has an Indian patent to his credit for the novel compounds isolated from an endemic plant during his doctoral research. He was awarded the prestigious DST-INSPIRE merit research fellowship by the Ministry of Science and Technology, Govt. of India in 2011. He also received Post-Doctoral Excellence award from the University of Johannesburg and the Best Performer Award from the Laser Research Centre in 2018. Under his supervision, seven master’s students and one doctoral student have already graduated, and he currently supervises two doctoral students. He is a registered Natural Scientist at South African Council for Natural Scientific Professions (SACNASP) and a member of the South African Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (SASBMB). He is a reviewer for several well-known international journals from the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), Elsevier, Springer and Wiley. He lectures the Research Methods module to the 3rd year Medical Laboratory students in the department of Biomedical Sciences. He serves as a member of the Research Ethics Committee and Transformation Committee of the Faculty of Health Sciences. Please feel free to contact him at for any further queries.


Prof Heidi Abrahamse

Director: Laser Research Centre & Sarchi Chair: Laser Applications in Health
5th Floor, 5307E, John Orr Building Doornfontein Campus

+27 11 559 6550

Prof Nicolette Houreld

DTech: Biomedical Technology
5306E, John Orr Building

+27 (0) 11 559 6833

Prof Blassan George

Associate Professor
Room 5307a, John Orr Building Doornfontein Campus

011 559 6926

Christine Fernandez

Administrative officer
Room 5307, John Orr Building Doornfontein Campus

(+27) 11 559 6155