R153 mln grant to fund TB, HIV research programme

2015-09-11 10:15
K-RITH’s Professor Thumbi Ndung’u.

K-RITH’s Professor Thumbi Ndung’u. (Supplied)

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A R153-MILLION grant to fund a groundbreaking, collaborative TB and HIV scientific research programme has been awarded to the KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for Tuberculosis and HIV (K-RITH), a research institute based at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) in Durban.

K-RITH’s Professor Thumbi Ndung’u is the lead scientist on the five-year programme, which was formalised in Nairobi, Kenya, yesterday.

“We are exceptionally well placed in sub-Saharan Africa to make a significant contribution because of our access to large numbers of patients and samples of those directly affected by both diseases,” Ndung’u said.

“Our research is also necessary as we get to study the actual bugs and strains that are present in Africa and we can then apply the interventions and fine-tune them. Only in working in affected communities can we truly find solutions to public health challenges,” he added.

The grant would be used to set up a network of universities and research institutes, called the Sub-Saharan African Network for TB/HIV Research Excellence (Santhe), to conduct pioneering research to improve the health of the population, and develop capacity within the continent through training African researchers and scientists.

Santhe would link 12 partner institutions and four main research sites in South Africa, Botswana, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia, and aims to expand over time. The programme would benefit from existing HIV and TB research programmes, and the wider network of expertise available in the region. Training would include all career stages, from interns to post doctoral fellows.

UKZN vice-chancellor Dr Albert van Jaarsveld said: “Through the awarded funding, that intricately links to the global HIV and TB pandemic, I firmly believe that the work carried out thus far will go a long way in tackling HIV and TB on this continent, and also make a lasting impact in the development of the next generation of African scientists.”

— Witness Reporter

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  hiv aids

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