Health sciences gets clinical about research

23 July 2012

clinical scholarships at health sciencesSupporters: 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.

The Faculty of Health Sciences has named the winners of the first scholarships in the Clinical Scholars' Programme, sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim and the Medical Research Council (MRC). 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 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 in 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 before being 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 adding other funded awards to 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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