Laser Research Centre Team

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Laser Research Centre Director: Prof. Heidi 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 M.R. Hamblin (Ph.D.) was the Principal Investigator at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, an Associate Professor of Dermatology at Harvard Medical School and is a member of the affiliated faculty of the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Science and Technology. He was trained as a synthetic organic chemist and received his PhD from Trent University in England. His research interests lie in the areas of photodynamic therapy (PDT) for infections, cancer, and heart disease and photobiomodulation for wound healing, arthritis, traumatic brain injury and hair regrowth. He directed a laboratory of sixteen post-doctoral fellows, visiting scientists and graduate students. His research program is supported by NIH, CDMRP, USAFOSR and CIMIT among other funding agencies. He has published over 600 peer-reviewed articles, over 150 conference proceedings, book chapters and international abstracts and holds 8 patents. He has authored/edited 23 textbooks on PDT and photomedicine including SPIE proceedings. He is Associate Editor for 10 journals, on the editorial board of a further 25 journals and serves on NIH Study Sections. For the past 10 years Prof Hamblin has chaired an annual conference at SPIE Photonics West entitled “Mechanisms for low level light therapy” and he has edited the 10 proceedings volumes together with four other major textbooks on PDT and photomedicine. He has several other book projects in progress at various stages of completion. Prof Hamblin has received a number of prestigious honours and awards, and in 2011 was honored by election as a Fellow of SPIE. Prof Hamblin has been appointed as a visiting professor at a number of institutions including the Guangxi Medical University, Nanning, China, Laser Research Centre Health Sciences, University of Johannesburg, South Africa, and School of Pharmacy, University of Ulster Coleraine, UK.
Prof Michael Hamblin is the world’s the most documented authority on Neuromodulation. He is Editor-in-Chief of “Photobiomodulation, Photomedicine and Laser Surgery”, is Associate Editor for 10 other journals. He has a Scopus H-index of 104 with 44918 citations. Dr Hamblin was elected as a Fellow of SPIE in 2011, received 1st Endre Mester Lifetime Achievement Award Photomedicine from NAALT in 2017, and Outstanding Career Award from Dose Response Society in 2018.

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

Professor: Laser Research Centre

NRF SARChI Deputy Chair: Laser Applications in Health

Prof. Nicolette Houreld N.Dip (TWR), B.Tech (TWR), M.Tech (TWR), D.Tech (UJ) Biomedical Technology, is currently a Professor and the DST-NRF SARChI Deputy Chair-holder: Laser Applications in Health in the Laser Research Centre. Her research interests lie in the areas of photobiomodulation and diabetic wound healing, where she investigates the molecular and cellular effects of photobiomodulation and laser tissue interaction. She is currently a C1 NRF rated scientist with a Scopus H-index of 24, Google Scholar H-index of 30, a ResearchGate score of 34.47 and a web of science H-index of 22.

Prof Houreld has supervised 9 honours, 15 masters, and 9 doctorate students, and 4 post-doctoral research fellows within the Laser Research Centre and other departments within the University of Johannesburg. She has secured external funding towards projects in the Laser Research Centre from the National Research Foundation, African Laser Centre, and Wellcome Trust/DBT India Alliance. Prof Houreld has acted as an external reviewer and panel reviewer for external funding bodies and grants for the National Research Foundation, South African Medical Research Council and Diabetes UK. Over the last 15 years she has published 78 peer-reviewed accredited national and international articles, 21 conference proceedings, 11 book chapters and 1 book. Prof Houreld has acted as external examiner for masters’ and doctoral dissertations and thesis, and reviews articles for over 25 international journals, including Cochrane. She serves on various research-related university and science council committees, where she is the Deputy Vice Chair of the faculty Research Ethics Committee. She is also on the editorial board for the journal Photobiomodulation, Photomedicine and Laser Surgery and is on the executive committee as president elect for the World Association for photobiomoduLation Therapy (WALT; formally called World Association for Laser Therapy). She has been invited to present her work at several international conferences as invited or keynote presenter, as well as give workshops. She has also hosted a very successful international workshop attended by 90 people on the Mechanisms, Applications and Clinical Training in Photobiomodulation at UJ in 2015, and been on the conference organising or scientific committee for several conferences, including the 7th International World Association of Laser Therapy Conference (2008), Joint WALT/NAALT International Conference (2014), the International Conference on Biology and Pathology (ICBP2016), and 13th Global Diabetes Conference (2016). Her society membership includes the World Association for photobiomoduLation Therapy (WALT); Society of Medical Laboratory Technologist of South Africa (SMLTSA); North American Association for Laser Therapy (NAALT); the International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE), and the Wound Healing Association of Southern Africa (WHASA). Prof Houreld has lectured several undergraduate modules including Microbiology, Biochemistry, Haematology, Chemical Pathology, and Integrated Pathophysiology.

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

Prof Blassan P. George (MSc, MPhil, PhD) serves as an Associate Professor at the 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)

Prof Chukuka S. Enwemeka serves as Professor in the College of Health and Human Services, San Diego State University (SDSU), San Diego, California, and is transitioning to his new role as President/ Vice Chancellor of James Hope University, Lekki, Lagos, Nigeria. He joined SDSU as Provost and Senior Vice President in July 2014 following a five-year tenure as Professor and Dean of the College of Health Sciences, University of Wisconsin (2009 to 2014), and over six years as Professor and Dean, School of Health Professions, New York Institute of Technology (2003 to 2009). Enwemeka has held professorial positions at the University of Kansas, the University of Miami and the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. 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 served as the President of the World Association for Laser Therapy (WALT) from 1998 to 2000 and was founder and chairman of the North American Association for Laser Therapy from 2000 to 2006. He has a Scopus H-index of 32 with 4386 citations. Prof. Enwemeka is recognized as one of the world’s foremost authorities in Photobiomodulation (PBM).

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

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 11 accredited journal publications, written 6 chapters and 6 published proceedings. She has an h-index of 5 and >90 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. Dr Crous has received 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. 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. Currently, his research focuses on stem cell based diabetic therapy, which involves a crucial application of photobiomodulation in differentiation of stem cells to insulin producing cells. He has more than 40 publications including research articles, book chapters, and conference proceeding on pharmacology, phytochemistry, stem cells, photomedicine, nutritional sciences and cell biology in peer reviewed International journals. He has a Scopus H-index of 10 and Google scholar H-index of 14. He has also presented research outputs in 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 has received Post-Doctoral Excellence award and the best performer awarded from Laser Research Centre. He is a registered Natural Scientist at South African Council for Natural Scientific Professions (SACNASP) and member of South African Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (SASBMB).


Prof Heidi Abrahamse

5307e, John Orr Building Doornfontein Campus

+27 11 559 6550

Dr Nicolette Houreld

Prof Nicolette Houreld

5306E, John Orr Building

+27 (0) 11 559 6833