Major neurosciences initiative launched at UCT and Groote Schuur

23 March 2015 | Story by Newsroom
J Block at Groote Schuur Hospital, where the Neurosciences Initiative will be headquartered.
J Block at Groote Schuur Hospital, where the Neurosciences Initiative will be headquartered.

A major neurosciences initiative has been launched at UCT's Faculty of Health Sciences in partnership with Groote Schuur academic hospital complex. The Neurosciences Initiative will bring together clinicians and researchers from a wide range of specialities, fostering collaboration in the treatment of a number of neurological disorders, including stroke, central nervous system infection and trauma, among others.

An ideal site has been identified at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town. The facility will be developed to include the academic departments of key neuroscience disciplines, laboratories, a neuroimaging facility, and specialised, multidisciplinary clinics, which will complement and enhance the existing clinical activities at Groote Schuur.

The CEO of Groote Schuur Hospital, Dr Bhavna Patel said: "Groote Schuur Hospital is proud to be a part of this initiative in providing a clinical neuroscience service to its patients. We would like to thank the university for the contribution to this hospital facility, which will be world-renowned in clinical service, teaching and research. Our partnership can only grow in strength going forward."

The initiative will advance care and transform research and teaching in the neurosciences in Africa by drawing together an array of expertise in neurosurgery, neurology, neuropsychology, neuropsychiatry and neuroimaging. It will also partner with other disciplines such as engineering, the arts and disability studies, creating a facility where patients can access the highest quality of care and the most cutting-edge treatment options.

Interim dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, Prof Gregory Hussey said: "Neurosciences is the new frontier of medical research at UCT. Through this initiative, we aim to make a contribution not only in South Africa, but in Africa and globally. The initiative will address the needs of our continent's people and open new ways for Africa to contribute to the global body of knowledge in this rapidly advancing field."

The vision of the Neurosciences Initiative has been made reality through a R25-million financial donation from UCT alumnus David Barnes and his wife Ursel Barnes, and fundraising efforts will continue in order to finance the development of this state-of-the-art facility.

Head of the Division of Neurosurgery, Prof Graham Fieggen said: "The majority of people suffering from common neurological disorders live in low and middle-income countries. There is a need to understand these disorders within the context of our own continent. We cannot simply import models from the Global North."

UCT Deputy Vice-Chancellor Prof Danie Visser said: "UCT is excited that this initiative will integrate the laboratory, clinic and community, so that clinicians and researchers can collaborate to offer rapid translation of contemporary treatment options."

The launch of the Neurosciences Initiative in Cape Town on 23 March was hosted by UCT Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price and attended by the University of Oxford Vice-Chancellor Prof Andrew Hamilton and a delegation of leading researchers from both universities. UCT researchers have been meeting with their University of Oxford counterparts in Cape Town to discuss a range of collaborations that could make valuable inroads in research, from neurosciences and malaria, to land reform and HIV.

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