Medicine's magnificent seven

12 December 2011

Dr Graeme Meintjies Dr Richard van Zyl-Smit
Doctors in the house: Dr Graeme Meintjies (left) and Dr Richard van Zyl-Smit are two of the seven doctoral graduates to come out of the Department of Medicine this year.

This week, UCT's Department of Medicine will graduate the most PhD students it's capped in one go in its 91-year history.

Seven new doctors of medicine will graduate on 17 December, much to the delight of the department.

Head of medicine Professor Bongani Mayosi says that the achievement is particularly remarkable because six of the seven are clinicians. Clinicians have traditionally not done PhDs, he explains.

Clinicians' training is typically geared towards a professional, hands-on role in clinical practice, he says, and not to academia.

This year marks the beginning of a new trend, perhaps, inspired by a capacity-building effort that the department began about five years ago - the UCT Clinical Scholars Programme.

Its aim, explained Mayosi, is to increase the number of PhDs in medicine.

"This is a major milestone in the efforts of members of our department to grow the next generation of academic leaders," he says.

The six clinicians are Dr Graeme Meintjies, Dr Keren Middelkoop, Dr Mpiko Ntsekhe, Dr Ian Ross, Dr Mashiko Setshedi and Dr Richard van Zyl-Smit. Sarin Somers is the non-clinician in the group.

"They are now finally earning the academic right to use the title 'doctor'!" Mayosi proudly proclaimed.

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