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International Outreach Programs

of the Peripheral Nerve Society

University of Cape Town & Zambia Fellowship

One of the goals of the PNS International Outreach, Membership, and Diversity Committee is to develop regional centers of excellence in the Southern Hemisphere. The PNS helped to fund a six month neuromuscular fellowship program for Dr. Stanley Zimba. The first three months of the fellowship was held at the University of Cape Town in South Africa under the mentorship of Dr. Jeanine Heckman and the second three months was held at the University of Zambia under the mentorship of Drs. Michelle Kvalsund and Melody Asukile. Dr. Zimba describes his experience in the fellowship in further detail below.

Fellowship Testimonial

By Dr. Stanley Zimba

Thank you to the Peripheral Nerve Society (PNS) for coming up with this initiative of a neuromuscular fellowship program which has enabled me to to acquire the necessary training, experience, and knowledge to become an independent clinician in the prevention and treatment of neuromuscular diseases in a resource-limited setting. The fellowship program has seen me spend 3 months at the University of Cape Town in South Africa and an additional 3 months at the University of Zambia in Lusaka.

Dr. Zimba & Prof. Heckmann, Cape Town, South Africa

Dr. Zimba & Dr. Kvalsund, Lusaka, Zambia

Dr. Zimba & Prof. Heckmann, Cape Town, South Africa

My stay in Cape Town was under the tutorage of Prof Jeannine Heckmann, who was an amazing mentor and taught me a lot. Perhaps, the most learning I got in Cape Town was exposure to genetic neuromuscular disorders, both clinically and from a research perspective. On the clinical front, their approach to genetic conditions and how they navigate challenges is something I could relate to, and it felt easier to replicate what they were doing back in Zambia than if I had gone for training in a high-income country.

Research-wise, I enjoyed taking part in the genetic clinic and Jeannine’s Thursday afternoon meetings with her doctoral students where a variety of genetic research activities were discussed. This was very beneficial to help me kick-start my project for this fellowship on hereditary neuropathies in Zambia and Cape Town, as well as looking at MPV17 mutations and hereditary neuropathies as a separate project.

In Zambia, I have had the opportunity of working with Dr. Michelle Kvalsund and Dr. Melody Asukile both of whom have helped me to strengthen my grip on being more independent in the EMG lab, conclude my research projects as well as finalize and hopefully publish the manuscript on Referral Characteristics and Neuromuscular Disorders among Electrodiagnostic Consultations at University Teaching Hospital. I hope to attend the PNS meeting in Canada in June 2024 and present some of my research work. All this would not have been possible without the PNS and I sincerely thank them with hope that this program will be sustained for years to come to bridge the gap in neuromuscular training between high- and low-income settings.