South Africa | Today, Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi approved the go ahead to proceed to the second phase of a Collaborative Biomedical Research Programme between the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) and the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH).This after the joint programme awarded 31 grants in its first five years.
“The National Department of Health is deeply committed to improving the health of South Africans through evidence based research generated in South Africa, we remain deeply dedicated to continue this tradition of producing high quality research to deal with the quadruple burden of disease and to developing the next generation health researchers,” says Dr Motsoaledi.
The first five-year phase of the programme started in 2013 and will end in 2019. The current projects have generated outstanding scientific discovery, resulted in multiple publications and have assisted in training a significant number of young South African investigators. The joint programme has also strengthened research management and administrative capacity at South African research institutions.
“We are excited to continue the collaboration with the NIH for a further five years. The current programme will be expanded to include all infectious diseases and non-communicable diseases as well as targeting underrepresented scientists and those from Historically Disadvantaged Institutions,” says Prof Glenda Gray, President and CEO of the SAMRC.
A key outcome from the first phase of the joint programme is a phylogenetic study that is characterizing the cycle of HIV transmission between adolescent girls/young women and older young men. This study influenced policy and was featured in the UNAIDS 2016 report: Get on the Fast-Track: The life-cycle approach to HIV. This particular study has also contributed to the South African National Strategic Plan on HIV, TB and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) through its progress on Goal 1, which focuses on breaking the cycle of transmission.
“Collaborative research efforts are instrumental to making discoveries that will ultimately save lives. Furthermore the NIH is pleased to play a significant role in building capacity for the next generation of South African scientists whose research will impact positively on the health of South Africans,” says Mr Steven Smith, Health Attaché at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The second phase of the Collaborative Biomedical Research Programme will see the NIH providing matching funding of R45 million each year over the next five years to the joint programme. A Request for Applications (RFA) will be published in early 2019.
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