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Research Centres

Research Centres

The SAMRC’s Research Centres, based at universities and institutions across the country, identify and gather information on leading health concerns in South Africa like Cancer, HIV and Tuberculosis.

Each Centre is staffed with experts in the same field as the projects they direct. Many of these experts also work with external specialists on the research and funding of international projects. Over the years, the SAMRC’s research has provided vital information that is used by the Department of Health and government for health planning and assessing progress towards realising government’s objectives.

Cancer Centres

The Common Epithelial Research Centre (CERC), based at Wits University, focuses on breast, colorectal, hepatobiliary and pancreatic cancer, which are among the most deadly and common cancers in South Africa.

Selected programmes are run at Wits University’s Faculty of Health Sciences Teaching Hospitals: the Chris Hani Baragwanath and Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospitals.

Key focus areas

  • Predict the demographics, genetic markers, treatment options, risk and treatment responses of patients;
  • Identify personal, social and health system barriers to guide health policies and enable earlier diagnosis and treatment;
  • Encourage surgeons, oncologists and other cancer specialists at Wits teaching hospitals to work together;
  • Enhance the working relationships between national and international cancer management and research specialists;
  • Grow the National and Regional Cancer Registries (cancer statistic sources);
  • Increase the use of the National Cancer Registry and other Wits hospital-based cancer registries to improve patient care; and
  • Improve research biobanks (how biological data is stored at Wits, the National Health Laboratory Service and other laboratory facilities).

Unit Director: Professor Paul Ruff


The Gynaecological Cancer Research Centre, based at the University of Cape Town, focuses on programmes that address the current challenges facing patients with gynaecological cancers (the most common being cervical cancer).

The Centre also works with colleagues in East London to enhance its research capacity and support other SAMRC units in addressing the burden of disease.

Key focus areas

  • Encourage teamwork among scientists and clinicians;
  • Create a specialised biobank (collection of relevant research and data) and data-capturing system;
  • Develop a registry (statistics source) that reflects the burden of disease;
  • Establish the infrastructure and skills needed for real-time data-capturing (research nurses, for example);
  • Prevent new and advanced cervical cancer cases by using point of care diagnostic tests and similar initiatives;
  • Develop new and experimental vaccines for the Human Papilloma Virus (a group of viruses known as ‘HPV’ which increase a patient’s chance of developing cancer);
  • Study therapeutic HPV vaccinations;
  • Identify genetic markers linked to the progression and regression of gynaecological cancers;
  • Monitor and evaluate HPV vaccination programmes;
  • Establish effective ways to treat patients’ symptoms (pain relief) in regions with limited resources;
  • Research the causes of late-onset cervical cancer;
  • Promote the use of mobile technology for client follow-ups;
  • Investigate the impact of HIV infection on recurring non-HPV related cancers; and
  • Produce publications in relevant industry journals.

The five-year SAMRC grant for the Gynaecological Cancer Research Centre amounts to R2.5 million per year (excluding VAT), with a 5% increase each year depending on funding.

For more information, visit the Gynaecology Cancer Research Centre's Website

Unit Director: Professor Lynette Denny


HIV/TB Centres

Advancing Care and treatment (ACT) for TB/HIV
Contact: Prof Gavin Churchyard
  Tuberculosis Collaborating Centre for Child Health (TB-CHILD)
Contact: Prof Mark Nicol
Centre for Tuberculosis Biomarker-Targeted Intervention
Contact: Ass Prof Mark Hatherill
  Tygerberg SAMRC Collaborating centre for HIV Laboratory Research
Contact: Prof Wolfgang Preiser
Clinical and Community HIV-Tuberculosis Research Collaborating Centre
Contact: Ass Prof Graeme Meintjes
  Soweto Matlosana SAMRC Collaborating Centre for HIV/AIDS and TB
Contact: Dr Neil Martinson
Centre for Basic and Translational Human TB Research
Contact: Prof Adrie Steyn
  Wits Clinical HIV/TB Research Unit, WITS Health Consortium
Contact: Associate Professor Ian Sanne
TB Free through Research and Innovation
Contact: Prof Keertan Dheda
  Wits RHI Collaborating Centre for HIV/AIDS
Contact: Prof Helen Rees