Health Sciences gets clinical about research

21 June 2012 | Story by Newsroom

The Faculty of Health Sciences has, thanks to some generous partners, put money where their Clinical Scholars' Programme is. At a cocktail function on 15 June, the faculty named the winners of the first scholarships - sponsored by pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim and the Medical Research Council (MRC) - to be presented as part of the programme.

Health Sciences Clinical Scholarships Health Sciences Clinical Scholarships
Supporters: Marking the new fellowships were (from left) Dr Kevin Ho, medical director at Boehringer Ingelheim South Africa (BISA); Paul Stewart, former CEO of BISA; student Jacob Francis, Prof Bongani Mayosi, students Valmy Craffert and Jacob Hoffman, and Georg van Husen, new CEO of BISA. Hail to the students: At the handover of fellowships were (from left) Prof Ali Dhansay, deputy president of the Medical Research Council; students Jarryd Lunn, Cosnet Rametse, Matthew Amoni, Simphiwe Hlungwane and Kaya Gqada, and Assoc Prof Arieh Katz.

The scholarships for the new interwoven degrees went to Valmy Craffert, James Francis and Jacob Hoffman, three of the pioneering group of medical students currently doing the MBChB/BScMed (Hons) programme; and Matthew Amoni, Kaya Gqada, Simphiwe Hlungwane, Jarryd Lunn and Cosnet Rametse, who are on the molecular medicine course in the third year of the MBChB, in preparation for the BScMed (Hons) year in 2013.

Launched in 2011 and convened by Associate Professor Arieh Katz of the Division of Medical Biochemistry and Professor Bongani Mayosi of the Department of Medicine, the UCT Clinical Scholars Programme is designed to address the "critical shortage" of academic practitioners at UCT and the country by fast-tracking students into clinical research. (So worrying has the shortage become that, as an illustration, the Faculty of Health Sciences struggled to find an incumbent for its chair of gastroenterology, which was vacant for more than seven years until it was filled by Professor Sandie Thomson in 2011.)

"It's not just about throwing money at students," commented Paul Stewart, outgoing CEO of Boehringer Ingelheim South Africa (BISA), at the cocktail event. "It's about honouring them and tracking their progress."

The faculty's dean, Professor Marian Jacobs, also announced that it would be investing a few more funded awards into the programme - the Santilal Parbhoo and Mark Horwitz Prizes in Molecular Medicine, and the Bryan Kies Fellowships in Neurology. Jacobs noted that these initiatives are part of the "building the future" drive of the faculty's Centenary year.

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