National Research Foundation recognises SAMRC Mid-Career scientist

Cape Town | Social and Behavioural Scientist, Professor Kebogile Mokwena was awarded the sponsorship of the South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) for Substance Abuse and Population Mental Health by the National Research Foundation (NRF). This significant grant will enable her to conduct further research into the various public health and clinical aspects of the uniquely South African street drug Nyaope.

Although she has been conducting research on Nyaope since 2012, it was in 2016 that she re-launched her research journey after being accepted to the South African Medical Research Council’s (SAMRC) Mid-Career Scientist Programme which assisted in transitioning her into an independent researcher.

“It is encouraging to witness the positive outcomes of our transformation and capacity development initiatives such as the Mid-Career Scientist Programme,” says SAMRC President & CEO Professor Glenda Gray. “In prioritizing our transformation and capacity development agenda, we set out to evolve scientists into independent researchers who are able to secure their own research support and Professor Mokwena, in receiving this prestigious NRF grant, has exceeded our expectations.”

Managed by the SAMRC’s Research Capacity Development (RCD) Division, the Mid-Career Scientist Programme is a strategic funding initiative aimed at supporting established scientists, within relevant research areas in South Africa. “We are honoured to have played a role in refining scientists whose research addresses some of the key questions that could have an impact on lowering the burden of disease in South Africa. This is our part in building the next generation of scientists for the country,” says RCD Division Manager Dr Thabi Maitin.

Nyaope is a highly addictive cocktail drug, with Heroin as its main ingredient and is wreaking havoc in South African communities with a 10% and 5% treatment demand at KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng rehabilitation facilities, respectively. However, there is a dearth of literature regarding the impact of this drug on the health of its users. Professor Mokwena’s research aims to provide new insight about the addictive aspects of the drug as well as its effects on the users.

She adds that the funding received from the SAMRC in 2016 was a spring board to the expansion of her research work and played a significant role in equipping her with the necessary capacity to submit a proposal worthy of a prestigious award by the NRF. She heads the Public Health Department at Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University (SMU) and is the first, at the University, to be appointed Research Chair by the NRF.


The SAMRC’s Research Capacity Development Division (RCD)
This division of the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) supports the growth of health research capacity by offering scholarships and grants to South African citizens who are pursuing their research careers in Medical and Health Sciences.

Eligible candidates:

  • Masters students
  • PhD students and Post-doctoral
  • Early-Career Investigators holding a PhD
  • Mid-Career Investigators

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

All scholarship applicants must be registered for the degree for which they seek funding.

For more information:

The South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI)
An initiative by the Department of Science &Technology (DST) and the National Research Foundation (NRF) is aimed at attracting and retaining excellence in research and innovation through the establishment of Research Chairs at public universities in South Africa with a long-term investment trajectory of up to fifteen years. For more information:

Release date: 
Tuesday, July 17, 2018 - 12:41
Keletso Ratsela
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