Professor Lorna J Martin

Head of Division, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town Clinical Department Head, Forensic Pathology Service, Western Cape Government Health

Professor Martin completed her MB.BCh degree at the University of the Witwatersrand in 1989, followed by a year internship at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital (Soweto). In 1991, she joined the District Surgeon’s office in Johannesburg where her interest into the issue of gender-based violence developed. In 1996, Prof Martin relocated to Cape Town as a Registrar and completed her MMed Path (Forensics), a degree conferred from the University of Cape Town (UCT) in 1999. After qualifying, she was appointed as a Specialist in the Division of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology (Department of Clinical Laboratory Sciences, UCT) and subsequently Chief Specialist and Head of Division in 2004; a joint appointment between the Western Cape Government (Department of Health) and UCT.  Professor Martin was the first woman and the youngest person to hold the appointment of Head of Forensic Pathology in the country. From 2009-2013, Professor Martin served as the Head of Department (Clinical Laboratories Sciences [now Pathology], UCT). During this time (2011), she officially became a fellow of the College of Forensic Pathologists, a peer-reviewed degree.

Professor Martin’s research has predominately focused on combating violence against Women and Children for which she has over forty published, peer-reviewed articles, seven book chapters and has presented at many conferences and outreach programmes, both internationally and locally. It is for her contribution to this body of work that she was the recipient of the White Ribbon Award in 2001 from the ‘Women Demand Dignity’ group. Professor Martin has also participated in studies on femicide and child homicide in collaboration with researchers from the Medical Research Council of South Africa, and with other collaborators in a national study of injury mortality in South Africa. She currently leads Child Death Review teams in the Western Cape, which started in the Cape Town West Metropole, comprising a panel of clinicians and scientists who review on average 130 child death cases per month. Furthermore, the pioneering work of Professor Martin and Prof Lynette Denny on the medico-legal management of rape survivors has been adapted into the National policy and guidelines for the management of rape survivors and the WHO Guidelines for medico-legal care for victims of sexual violence.

Most recently, Professor Martin has driven the development of the Observatory Forensic Pathology Institute (OFPI), a state-of-the-art facility which will replace the Salt River Mortuary (Western Cape Government). On completion, the institute will enable the integration of the provincial Forensic Pathology Service with facilities to support the academic training of students registered at the University of Cape Town.