Fillip for South African health research


    9 June 2015

    Five South African universities, which were previously under-resourced, have received a R30-million boost for health research.

    The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) made the announcement yesterday during the launch of the Research Capacity Development Initiative for Selected South African Universities at the council’s headquarters in Cape Town.

    The principal investigators of the valued projects at various universities had presented their abstracts and their thoughts about the programme before being awarded by the SAMRC board.

    Universities benefiting from the initiative are the University of Fort Hare, University of Limpopo, Walter Sisulu University, University of Venda and the University of Zululand. They have provided compelling proposals that are aligned with institutional research strengths and priorities.

    The proposals cover an array of areas in health research such as HIV, indigenous medicines, cancer, environmental health and non-communicable diseases.

    The universities will receive clinical or health research funding worth up to R1- million per institution per year for five years. Discussions will soon be under way with a sixth institution for the same amount over five years.

    SAMRC president Professor Glenda Gray said this initiative followed recognition by the council that some universities in South Africa were not accessing funding from the council.

    “The council, noting this gap, addressed this anomaly by funding health research that is conducted by researchers at previously under-resourced institutions. This research will be rewarding for science, it is pertinent to the country’s burden of disease and a game changer for research,” she said.

    Professor Jeffrey Mphahlele, the SAMRC vice-president, thanked the principal investigators for developing research in their own institutions and contributing to science as a whole.

    “I would like to challenge them further though; I’d like them to be a part of the SAMRC legacy and in the long run see some of these projects graduating and joining the SAMRC extramural research.”