Prof Carol Hlela is one of two paediatric dermatologists in the country, championing as a leading specialist in baby and child skin care. Her mission is to reduce skin conditions in babies and children and become the voice in paediatric dermatology in Africa.
She is passionate about educating patients, medical professionals and medical corporations about innovative and simple skin solutions, through her research and campaigns.
Born and bred in KwaMashu near Durban, she was the first recipient of Netcare’s Hamilton Naki Clinical Scholarship in 2007, which enabled her to complete a PhD in Clinical Medicine at Oxford University, UK. Her ongoing research into the human T-lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1) has made her South Africa’s leading expert on the virus, as well as a highly-regarded contributor to the international body of knowledge developing around it.
Currently heading the Paediatric Dermatology Unit at Red Cross Children Hospital, she is also employed by University of Cape Town, where she teaches medical students, supervising PhD candidates. She has worked at Groote Schuur Hospital (CT) as well as King Edward Hospital (KZN), as a Dermatology Consultant (Skin Specialist).
While studying towards her PhD, Prof Hlela focused mainly on children because of her interest in HTLV-1. She attained her Masters and a PhD from Oxford University, UK.
Upon her return to South Africa, in 2012 she was encouraged to stay in paediatrics and, because she regarded it as a means to an end at the time, she obliged. “Yet again, though, I ended up loving what I do and I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.” Her clinical research career is ongoing, including being part of national and international research collaborations, conducting various clinical research drug trials. Research, and the power it gives, remains Prof Hlela’s passion.