Scholarships and Research Grant Funding

The SAMRC’s Research Capacity Development (RCD) Division supports the growth of health research capacity by offering scholarships to South African citizens studying towards their Masters, PhDs and Post-doctoral qualifications in Medical and Health Sciences.

The Division also focuses on strengthening capacity development within previously under-resourced universities to ensure that they are able to produce scientific knowledge for the advancement of health.

All applications for SAMRC funding undergo a review process. Only the very best candidates and/or research projects receive funding.

All scholarship applicants must be registered for the degree they are seeking funding for.


The National Health Scholars Programme (NHSP) is an initiative of the National Health Research Committee (NHRC). The NHSP is funded by the Public Health Enhancement Fund (PHEF) under the auspices of the National Department of Health (NDoH)

There is no set amount of scholarship value. The scholarship value  is determined by establishing how much the SA Government would pay the candidate if they were full time employed with the qualifications they currently hold. Thus the scholarship value  is equivalent to the after-tax take-home pay of the candidate, based on the salary scales of the relevant post (or equivalent) in the National Department of Health.

Eligible candidates: the priority is to focus on professions in which research skills are scarce or still being developed such as Biostatistics, Nursing, Health Economics, Health Systems  etc as well as to strengthen under represented designated groups, institutions and research tracks, on PhDs and where compelling Masters degrees. .

 The first group of National Health Scholars Program was funded in 2013.

For more information contact dedicated administrator:
Pumla Zonke at or call 021 938 0250

In the centre, one of the recent PhD graduates, Dr Saul Cobbing receiving a certificate of acknowledgement during the annual Early Career Scientist Convention from Dr T Maitin (L) Division Manager of Research Capacity Development (RCD) and Professor J Mphahlele (R) the Vice President of the SAMRC. Dr Saul Cobbing is now a fully- fledged lecturer at UKZN in the department of Physiotherapy.


The SAMRC Researcher Development Grant is a strategic Staff PhD Development Grant.

The value is R250 000.00 once off to fund last year of the PhD.

Application process is initiated by email to Dr Maitin stating intension to apply for support.

Guidance will be provided after initial profiling.

For more information contact dedicated administrator or call 021 938 0945

Dr Sean Chetty
Above is Dr Sean Chetty one of the recipients of the SAMRC Development grant.  The grant gave Dr Chetty the opportunity to complete his PhD from the University of the Witwatersrand.  His PhD thesis titled: "The Anaesthetic Management of Patients Undergoing Caesarean Section surgery and its impact on post-operative Analgesia” explored a topic that has a profound impact on women and their ability to take care of their newborn babies following caesarean section delivery. Since completing his PhD Dr Chetty has been afforded the opportunity to continue working in his area of passion for Pain Management. He is growing in this still young field of medicine and is now at the University of Stellenbosch in Cape Town. He is now the Head of the Clinical Department and Deputy Head, Department of Anaesthesiology and Critical Care, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at The University of Stellenbosch. 


The SAMRC has partnered with the Government of Switzerland via the Swiss Vaccine Research Institute  (SVRC) and the University of Lausanne (UL) in a capacity development program in the research field of Vaccine Development. This is an e-learning facilitated program.  As at four (4) universities within South Africa are hosting scholars participating on the program, namely MUT, SMU, UKZN and WSU. The value of the scholarship is R278 000.00 for completion of the Master degree. The next request for applications will be later in the year.

For more information: contact dedicared administrator:
Thobile Mabuya at or call  021 938 0432

Ms Bontle Motloung
Ms Motloung above is one of the first participants on the program since the beginning of the partnership in 2016. She will be completing her Master Degree in Vaccinology in September 2018. She has described the course as very informative and the course content as exceptionally relevant as it covers all aspects of applied public health in relation to vaccinology. She also mentioned that the course has allowed her access to vaccinology experts from Switzerland and around the world.  Bontle remarks on the excellence of the faculty and the ongoing support they give and their always being available to assist. Ms Motloung recommends the International Masters in Vaccinology  to anyone interested in pursuing public health and vaccinology.


There is a dearth of MBChB or D.D.S graduates that read for PhD research degree. The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) continues to strengthen efforts that take cognizance of this paucity of Clinician researchers in South Africa.

The value of the scholarship is R500 000.00 p.a per scholar up to maximum of 4 yrs.

For more information: contact dedicared administrator:
Thobile Mabuya at or call  021 938 0432

Dr Mohammed Dalwai
Dr Dalwai above, a medical doctor by profession (and MBChB – Primaries in Surgery) is one of the beneficiaries on the program who has just completed his PhD degree. His thesis focuses on the applicability of the South African Triage Scale (SATS) in low resource settings where MSF (Medicines Sans Frontières) works. He investigates the reliability and validity of the scale in Afghanistan, Northern Pakistan, Sierra Leone and Haiti. Dr Dalwai describes the process of implementation of the triage scale in Northern Pakistan and goes on further to develop a set of paediatric vignettes to make it easier for further reliability assessments in the future. He extends the lessons learnt when assessing the triage scale in Pakistan to Afghanistan, Sierra Leone and Haiti and develops a novel way of standardising the assessment of validity in low resource settings. He establishes that SATS is a reliable and valid scale across most low resource settings with this research leading to the widespread adoption of SATS by MSF across the world.


The purpose of the research fellowship is to contribute and assist in accelerating the building of intramural research capacity and scientific leadership within the SAMRC. This is done by creating opportunities for intramural research units within the SAMRC to host post-doctoral scientist that has demonstrated a potential to become established researcher.

The value of the grant is R350 000.00 p.a per fellow for 3 years with an option to extend to further 2 years subject to satisfactory performance and the availability of funds.

As at February 2018, Research Capacity Development (RCD) Division boasts six units hosting a total of fourteen post-doctoral fellows. The host research units are:  Centre for Tuberculosis Research Unit (TBRU), Biomedical Research Innovation Platform (BRIP), Health Systems Research Unit (HSRU), Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs Research Unit (ATODRU), Cochrane South Africa and Gender and Health Research Unit( GHRU).

For more information: contact dedicated administrator:
Thobile Mabuya at or call  021 938 0432

Dr Ntevhe Thovhogi
Dr Thovhogi above is one of the recently enrolled SAMRC Intramural Post-doctoral Researchers under Biomedical Research Innovative Platform Unit (BRIP). Her research tittle is “Effects of Rooibos phenolic compounds on microbiota regulation and prevention of the metabolic syndrome” and below is the summary of her current Research project. The aim of the project is to determine the effects of rooibos phenolic compounds on the gut microbiota, using faecal samples from diet induced diabetic vervet monkeys treated with an aspalathin-rich rooibos extract (afriplex GRT), and by identifying shifts in bacterial diversity during anaerobic culture using 16S ribosomal RNA gene sequencing. The preliminary data indicated that treating the anaerobic feacal cultures with GRT modulated the growth of bacterial species related to the diet and metabolic disease.


This is a strategic initiative of the President of the SAMRC. The objective of the project is for the SAMRC to increase its footprint nationally to include all strata of universities - particularly to include under resourced universities otherwise referred to as Historically Disadvantaged Institutions (HDIs). To date, eight universities have been invited for participation under this initiative, namely: i) University of Limpopo, ii) University of Venda, iii) University of Zululand, iv) University of Fort Hare, v) Walter Sisulu University, vi) University of the Western Cape, vii) Mangosutho University of Technology and viii) Sefako Makgatho University.

Each university is awarded one million rand per financial year (R1 000 000.00 per FY) for five years.  Currently there are 16 funded PIs hosted in the eight universities.

For more information contact dedicated administrator: or call 021 9380873

 Review workshop
The SAMRC’s renowned Cochrane Centre contributed to the work of the Division of Research Capacity Development by mounting a Systematic Review Workshop for the Principal Investigators funded under the RCDI project and their Post-Graduate scholars from the University of Venda and the University of Limpopo on the 23-24 January 2018. With gratitude, the Division of Capacity Development continues to partner with the Cochrane Centre for their Systematic Review expertise to benefit beneficiaries of SAMRC / RCD funding.


Postgraduate scholars are identified and supervised by a PI funded under the RCDI project described in 6 above. The scholars do research towards an MSc or PhD at the University in which the funded PI is doing his/her research. Post graduate scholars are awarded scholarships worth R160 000.00 pa for MSc and R200 000.00 pa for PhD to degree completion.

Application process is by identification and invitation by RCDI funded PI at the HDI.

For more information contact dedicated administrator: or call 021 9380873
Cynthia Shabalala
Establishing of a cardiac 3D model for high through-put compound toxicity screening
Amsha Viraragavan
Assessment of chemical markers as surrogates for safety and efficacy of rooibos extract.
N Hlengwa
Evaluation of excipients for enhanced intestinal absorption of Rooibos flavonoids.

RCDI Postgraduate Scholarship holders from the University of Zululand.
The three MSc students shown above graduated in 2017. They are now continuing as funded scholars pursuing their PhDs. They are registered with the University of Zululand. The scholars are hosted and mentored by our SAMRC BRIP in order to gain access to state of the art laboratories here at the HQ of the SAMRC in Cape Town. 


A strategic initiative of the President of the SAMRC. The objective of the project is the establishment of a 2-year pilot mid-career scientist programme to fast-track and transition mid-career scientists to independent researchers who will become equipped to write their own grants and thereby secure their own salary and research support. The mid-career scientist programme will invest in promising mid-career scientists to facilitate their retention in the public sector in areas of strategic interest to both the NDoH and the SAMRC.

To date, four mid-career scientists have been invited for participation under this project, namely: i) University of Cape Town, ii) University of Western Cape, iii) Walter Sisulu University, and VI) Sefako Makgatho University.

Each mid-career scientist is awarded one million two hundred fifty rand for the first year (R1 250 000.00per FY) and one million five hundred rand for the second year (R1 500 000.00 per FY)

For more information contact dedicated administrator: or call 021 9380873

Prof Mokwena
Prof Mokwena above is one of the beneficiaries of the Mid-Career scientists grant. She is from Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University (SMU). Under her supervision, there are currently 8 students (two at Doctoral and six at Master’s level) conducting research in the area of mental health and/or substance abuse.


Funding for MSc or PhD.  This program focuses on funding Generic Black Candidates (African Black, Indian, Coloured and Asian) whose research supervisors are employees or researchers at SAMRC -  working for the SAMRC as researchers within SAMRC intra or extra mural research units. The research supervisor may also be an SAMRC funded Principal Investigator working as a research scientist at any of the universities in South Africa.

The SAMRC Internship Scholarship Programme has renewed 18 beneficiaries that will be continuing in the 2018/19 Financial Year

For more information contact dedicated administrator:  call 021 9380911/0945

Rendani Mbau
Rendani Mbau - (SAMRC Internship Scholarship Programme -PhD continuing funded beneficiary)
It was a
huge honor to receive the SAMRC Internship scholarship, and I am very grateful to the SAMRC for investing in my postgraduate education and future career. The funding from the SAMRC enabled me to conduct my research as an MSc candidate. The knowledge and skills I have acquired during my master’s degree have sharpened my understanding of mycobacterial physiology. The SAMRC continues to fund my postgraduate training, having upgraded from MSc to PhD in January 2017. I am sincerely grateful for the continued support, which will enable me to deepen my knowledge as a scientist and contribute to the scientific community.

Division Manager: Dr Thabi Maitin