Major grants for medical graduates

Novartis and Stellenbosch University is offering grants to over 30 postgraduate medical students throughout Africa to study clinical epidemiology.

Clinical epidemiology is one of the critical health science disciplines and a vital science for the future development and well-being of South Africa’s health care system.

Clinical epidemiology improves patient care by providing scientifically valid answers to questions about diagnosis, prevention, therapy, prognosis and aetiology.

Stellenbosch University has an MSc Programme in Clinical Epidemiology Programme, with an emphasis on evidence-based medicine, which provides health professionals with the necessary skills to generate and apply reliable, up-to-date evidence in clinical practice.

The global pharmaceutical company, Novartis, recognises the major role of clinical epidemiology in health care functionality in SA, and the importance of partnering with leading academic institutes globally, in order to build scientific research capabilities.

With this innovative partnership with Stellenbosch University, Novartis is giving grants to no less than 30 post graduate medical students throughout Africa, over a period of three years, to complete a Master’s Degree in Clinical Epidemiology at Stellenbosch University.

Prospective candidates need an MBChB or equivalent degree; or at least a 4-year professional Bachelor’s degree in a health-related discipline.

Preference to previously disadvantaged

The intake of 10 students per year will comprise six South African citizens and four citizens from other African countries, and will be subject to an annual review. “First preference will be given to previously disadvantaged South Africans,” says Patrice Matchaba, Global Head of Drug Safety and Epidemiology at Novartis. “The selection process will be based on merit and past academic performance.”

Glen Sullivan, CEO of Novartis SA says that in addition to internship programmes offered by their global scientific institutes, Novartis will sponsor a Clinical Epidemiology Week, which will be an annual event in conjunction with the university. The signing of the agreement will take place at Stellenbosch University’s Tygerberg Campus in Cape Town.

“Novartis has long played a role in the communities in which they operate and are proud of the track record they have in increasing the pool of health care talent available. We are honoured that the faculty of health sciences at Stellenbosch University (SU) will be a partner in this project,” concludes Sullivan.

The SU Faculty of Health Sciences was established more than half a century ago and has established an international reputation for its work in medical research. As Prof Jimmy Volmink, Dean-designate of the Faculty of Health Science, points out: “Stellenbosch University is already playing a significant role in addressing some of the major social, economic and health challenges facing our country and the African region. We believe the support from Novartis for our capacity building initiatives in clinical epidemiology will go a long way in furthering these goals.”

(Media Release, December 2010)

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