Building begins on the Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine

11 November 2002
BUILDING operations for UCT's Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine (IIDMM) are set to begin this week after the Council approved the building project last Wednesday, November 6.

Aiming to be fully established by the end of 2004, the Institute's vision is to be “an internationally significant research institute addressing Africa's most pressing health problems”.

The project includes the extensive renovation and re-modelling of the two Wernher-Beit buildings on the Faculty of Health Sciences' Campus, as well as the construction of a pavilion, or link building, to connect the buildings into a single complex.

The cost of design, construction and renovation of the new and existing Institute buildings amounts to approximately R43-million. This amount is expected to escalate to R45-million by January, 2003.

The IIDMM's active fundraising campaign has raised just over R20-million to date and this amount is expected to increase by another R10-million by the end of 2002.

The proposed organisational structure of the IIDMM sees the Institute embarking on an Interim Phase from October 1, 2002, until June 30, 2004. Professor Wieland Gevers, currently Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor (set to retire from this position at the end of the year) has been appointed Interim Director of the IIDMM.

Gevers said that the Interim Phase would present an opportunity to implement the establishment of the Institute, especially with regard to capital projects and core services, and to continue the process of reaching final agreement regarding governance structures, Institute policies and management approaches.

“The concept of an Interim Phase also allows time for the acceptance of an Institute Charter, the implementation of which will mark the start of the Consolidation Phase from July 1, 2004, onwards,” he added.

He said that the Consolidation Phase would focus on sustainability, the institutionalisation of academic freedom and autonomous research within the context of inclusively agreed strategic research objectives and programmes, thereby ensuring research excellence and the attraction and retention of researchers of international stature.

The IIDMM was formally established on November 19, 2001, and its mission is to create a modern, consolidated and vibrant environment of shared laboratories, research facilities and expertise.

The multi-disciplinary research environment will ensure the IIDMM has high-level co-operation agreements with other South African research institutes that are committed to the same or similar goals.

“We are pleased that this will encourage active collaborations with many universities and other research organisations in Africa and the rest of the world,” Gevers concluded.

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