Inaugural lectures for November 2023

23 October 2023

Dear colleagues and students

It is almost the end of the year, which means we are close to wrapping up the UCT Inaugural Lecture Series for 2023. We reconfigured the inaugural lecture series this year, which has elevated the lectures to institutional level and allowed us to celebrate more widely our colleagues who have been promoted to the rank of professor.

As we continue with these important lectures, which are a platform for UCT academics to share their research with members of the wider university community and the general public in an accessible way, our last two inaugural lectures in this year’s series will both be delivered by Faculty of Health Sciences academics, Professors Lydia Cairncross and Micheal Held, on 2 and 16 November 2023 respectively.

Professor Lydia Cairncross

Titled “Access to Surgical Care – the Imperative for Health Equity Action in Academic Medicine”, Professor Cairncross’s lecture will be held on Thursday, 2 November 2023 in the Neuroscience Institute Lecture Theatre, Groote Schuur Hospital at 18:00.

Professor Cairncross is the head of the Department of Surgery at UCT/Groote Schuur Hospital Academic Complex. She is a recognised national leader and published scholar in her subspecialist field of surgery, playing a key role in developing context appropriate national policy guidelines for breast cancer and endocrine surgical conditions and spearheading innovative systems-based research to promote earlier cancer diagnosis. She has engaged with civil society and philanthropic organisations – such as Project Flamingo, PinkDrive and Gift of the Givers – to expand access to surgical care for public sector patients.

In her lecture, Professor Cairncross will describe the complex interface between the daily pressures of surgical service delivery in health systems under strain and the pursuit of formal academic medicine. She will reflect on her research, clinical and activist work in relation to her special areas of interest in endocrine and oncology surgery; and explore the potential for academic medicine to catalyse a more just, equal and community-centred health system.

In parallel with her professional work as a surgeon, Professor Cairncross has been involved in campaigning for the right to health and improvements in the quality and accessibility of health care throughout her medical career. This work has included participation in the Treatment Action Campaign and the People’s Health Movement of South Africa. She has contributed to the country's public discourse on health policy, including the NHI proposal. She runs community training on understanding the need for a strong, well-resourced and community centred public health service.

Professor Cairncross strives to bring to the Department of Surgery both the lens of her subspecialist surgical expertise as well as a strong public health and equity perspective. Her vision for the department is to be service orientated, lead in innovation, and create a seamless pathway to surgical care that connects communities to excellent primary, secondary and high complexity tertiary care.

Professor Micheal Held

Professor Held will deliver his inaugural lecture on Thursday, 16 November 2023 in the Neuroscience Institute Lecture Theatre, Groote Schuur Hospital, at 17:30. The lecture is titled “Right Down to the Bone – Orthopaedic Training and Education”.

The lecture will unpack initiatives to improve and transform surgical education and training. Professor Held explores the intricacies of UCT's orthopaedic curriculum transformation process for medical students. This has led to student-centred content co-creation, nurturing a sense of ownership in their learning. Besides written content, he will touch on student-created visual media to simplify complex orthopaedic concepts and make video content accessible to a broader audience through an open access platform. Furthermore, he will highlight some challenges that orthopaedic registrars encounter in their training experience, exposure to surgeries, and their learning of surgical skills – and efforts to find solutions.

Professor Held is a consultant in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Groote Schuur Hospital. His primary focus is addressing local orthopaedic healthcare challenges by pursuing lean innovation and improving education and training in orthopaedic surgery. He has created a student-centred open access teaching platform with his department that aims to promote inclusivity and innovative thinking for medical students.

He is also the director of the UCT-accredited Orthopaedic Research Unit, which was established to foster collaboration and provide mentorship for clinical Master's and PhD students. In his clinical practice, he leads the knee surgery service and has introduced a sports-orthopaedic clinic dedicated to improving access and surgical care for underserved athletes.

Please join us for these lectures as we conclude the UCT Inaugural Lecture Series for 2023.


Professor Sue Harrison
Acting Vice-Chancellor

Read previous communications:

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Please view the republishing articles page for more information.