Child abuse study set to inform policy
From UCT Daily News - 21 October 2013
Making SA safer for children: (From left) co-researchers UCT's Prof Catherine Ward and Prof Lillian Artz with executive director of Centre for Justice and Crime Prevention, Patrick Burton.
A national study involving over 10 000 adolescents could strengthen existing child protection and care systems and make South Africa a safer place for children.
The study - the first of its kind in South Africa - is a collaborative effort between the Centre for Justice and Crime Prevention and UCT's Department of Psychology and the Gender, Health & Justice Research Unit (GHJRU). The GHJRU's director, Professor Lillian Artz, said the national incidence and prevalence study would address the gap in knowledge about child abuse and violence against children.
"Despite on-going media reports that highlight the extremely high levels of violence, particularly sexual violence, against children and young people in South Africa, there is no reliable national data that allows for a complete understanding of the problem, the contexts in which it occurs, and where resources can best be aimed," she said.
The study is funded by the UBS Optimus Foundation, which has funded similar research in Switzerland and China. The Department of Psychology's Professor Cathy Ward said the South African study would provide data on three key research areas:
- the annual incidence and lifetime prevalence rates of child sexual abuse, violence and maltreatment in South Africa;
- the relationship between child sexual abuse and other forms of maltreatment, neglect and violence; and
- the extent and nature of other forms of child abuse and violence, including physical and emotional abuse, and exposure to other forms of violence, such as peer victimisation, criminal violence, and witnessing violence.
Patrick Burton of the Centre for Justice and Crime Prevention said the data would help strengthen existing child protection and care systems.
"It will also help us identify where resources should be allocated, in order to prevent and intervene in cases of abuse and maltreatment. "In addition, the study is designed to generate comparative data to the Chinese and Swiss studies, also allowing the situation in South Africa to be analysed in an international context," Burton added.
Over the next four months more than 6 000 adolescents will be interviewed in randomly selected households throughout South Africa, together with an additional 4 000 adolescents of the same age at randomly selected schools.
The researchers will also collect data from child protection agencies servicing these selected areas and will explore gaps in both the reporting of child abuse and maltreatment, and the services offered to child victims after cases are reported.
The study will be repeated in five years and researchers believe the findings and recommendations could result in policy revisions that improve services for all children and adolescents in South Africa.
Both Artz and Ward are members of UCT's Safety and Violence Initiative (SaVI), a university-wide research collaboration that contributes to promoting safety, reducing violence and raising awareness about these issues.Fact box
- Some 58% of South Africa's 18.5 million children are born into poverty and live in households with an income less than R604 per person per month.
- The Human Sciences Research Council says malnutrition stunts the growth of more than 25% of children under the age of three.
- The government has committed R1.2 billion to early childhood development and other initiatives that support children's development.
- Antenatal care offers a critical opportunity to address risk factors and ensure a healthy pregnancy. While 90% of pregnant women attend at least one antenatal visit, only 40% access early antenatal care in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy.
- Access to early learning is on the increase: 90% of present-day five to six-year-olds attended an early childhood development centre or underwent formal schooling, and 99% of seven- to nine-year-olds attended school, but quality remains a problem. The average grade three score in the Annual National Assessments was 41% for mathematics and 52% for literacy.
Six of UCT's best for Women in Science finals
From UCT Daily News - 29 June 2013
One in six: Prof Lillian Artz, director of the Gender Health and Justice Research Unit, is among UCT's six finalists in the DST Women in Science Awards in the category, The role of science and research against violence towards women: Distinguished Researcher.
Six UCT women are finalists in the Department of Science and Technology (DST) 2013 Women in Science Awards.
The winners will be announced by the Minister of Science and Technology on 16 August.
The awards are part of the DST's efforts to grow the country's tally of women scientists and researchers.
The theme for this year's awards is The Scourge of Violence against Women: What is the role of science and research? This is rooted in the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women's 2013 theme: Elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls, a topic of high interest in South Africa, given the high levels of violence against girls and women in our society.
The six UCT candidates and their categories are:
- Professor Lillian Artz - The role of science and research against violence towards women: Distinguished Researcher
- Shameemah Abrahams - Fellowship Master's
- Valerie Chiriseri - Fellowship Master's
- Nomakhwezi Mvumvu - Tata Scholarship Master's
- Leah Matshinha - Fellowship Doctoral
- Vuyolwethu Siyo Tata Scholarship Doctoral
Red Cross Children's Hospital lab wins 'NHLS has Talent' competition - April 2013
Here's our home-brewed music vid we came up with for the NHLS has talent competition, shot, recorded and produced entirely on site in our lab. Ebi Dollie, our electron microscopist wrote the song/lyrics, the rest of us just chipped in and made a go of it and we had loads of fun in the process. The words are listed below. Enjoy!
The Red Cross Renegades
People search a lifetime, to find what we have
Making a difference, bringing joy to the, sad
We know things happen, that get us down
But lets be strong enough, to, turn it around
Yes its tough sometimes, when you're having a bad day
But lives depends on us, so nothing stands in our way
We asked ourselves, what's the secret to feel right
To smile all day and to help us see the light
So here's our secret we're sharing, it comes from deep inside,
It's made of many feelings it'll keep you satisfied,
It has love, hope and joy with a sprinkle of prayer
And its really, really simple, it's because we care
At times we all feel, our worth is neglected
But inside we believe, we'll all be respected
For worth has nothing to do, with the grade we receive
Inside is what matters, that's what we believe
Let's care about the work we do, and move towards our goals
Our inspiration lies in those we help, so put in your hearts and souls
The oath we've all made puts those who need us first,
And with their smiles, we'll all be reimbursed
Because we care and do it from deep inside
It's the most amazing feeling, come join us for the ride
Of caring and loving and joy in what we do
Together we can make a difference, both me and you
So here's our secret, we're sharing, it comes from deep inside,
Its made of many feelings, it'll keep you satisfied,
It has love, hope, and joy with a sprinkle of prayer
And its really, really simple, it's because we care
UCT scholar in new AIDS vaccine development - 30 October 2012
New ground: Prof Carolyn Williamson is part of a team of scientists investigating a new approach to developing an AIDS vaccine.
UCT's Professor Carolyn Williamson is one of the lead investigators on a ground-breaking study that has discovered an important new approach for developing an AIDS vaccine.
Williamson, of the Divison of Medical Virology and the Institute of Infectious Diseases and Molecular Medicine in the Faculty of Health Sciences, is part of a Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) consortium that has conducted the research over the past five years.
The study, published in the latest Nature Medicine journal, describes how a unique change in the outer covering of the virus, found in two HIV-infected South African women, enabled them to make potent antibodies that are able to kill up to 88% of HIV types from around the world.
Through long-term follow-up laboratory studies on these two women, the investigation team discovered that a sugar (known as a glycan) on the surface protein coat of the virus at a specific position (referred to as position 332) forms a site of vulnerability in the virus and enables the body to mount a broadly neutralising antibody response.
Williamson, who has a joint appointment with the National Health Laboratory Service, noted that HIV is a rapidly evolving virus and, as a result, the viruses circulating in the world have diversified into many different subtypes.
"One of the biggest obstacles in HIV research is to make vaccines that can elicit antibodies - called broadly neutralising antibodies - that would prevent infection with any one of these subtypes."
In this study, Williamson continued, potent antibodies were identified that could effectively block nearly 90% of viruses tested, including viruses from Africa, America, Europe and Asia.
"The advancement made in this paper is that a mechanism was identified on how these antibodies evolve in HIV infected people, and this is important as it can provide us with clues on how to design vaccines what could generate these types of responses."
UCT members who contributed to the study are post-graduate students Daniel Sheward and Melissa-Rose Abrahams, as well as post-doctoral fellow Nobubelo Ngandu.
DST Woman in Science Awards - August 2012
Three masters students from Clinical Laboratory Sciences have been awarded Fellowships for Masters Studies from the Department of Science and Technology
Narjis Thawer - Medical Virology
Akhona Vava - Medical Biochemistry
Sumaiyya Thawer - Immunology
Claude Leon Foundation Merit Award for Young Lecturer to Dr Bill Horsnell - August 2012
Join us in congratulating Dr Bill Horsnell on winning a Claude Leon Foundation Merit Award for Young Lecturers. Bill is a lecturer in the Division of Immunology, Department of Clinical Laboratory Sciences, and is also an Associate Member of the IIDMM.
Rising stars: Prof Danie Visser (far left) and Advocate Geoff Budlender (far right) with Claude Leon winners (from second from left) Dr Ake Faqereng, Dr Adam West, Dr Tirivanhu Chinyoka and Dr William Horsnell
Four up-and-coming UCT scholars received some positive affirmation when they were presented with the university's Claude Leon Foundation Merit Awards for Young Lecturers.
At a ceremony in August, Professor Danie Visser, deputy vice-chancellor responsible for research, and Advocate Geoff Budlender, a trustee of the Claude Leon Foundation, formally presented the awards to the winners - Dr Tirivanhu Chinyoka of the Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics, Dr Ake Fagereng of the Department of Geological Sciences, Dr William Horsnell of the Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine, and Dr Adam West of the Department of Botany.
The recipients each received R50 000.
The annual awards, in their second year, were established to recognise and assist the work of young academics (younger than 41), and are available to young lecturers in the science, engineering and medical science (excluding clinical research) fields.
The aim is to nurture and strengthen the next generation of scholars by helping them increase the rate of their work published in peer-reviewed journals, leading to promotion opportunities for excellent candidates to senior lecturer and associate professor positions.
Structural Biology Research Unit accreditation - March 2012
The Structural Biology Research Unit in the Division of Medical Biochemistry, Department of Clinical Laboratory Sciences has been successfully accredited by the URC.
What is Structural Biology (SB)?
SB is a key discipline in 21st century biology and medicine. Insights obtained through structural studies have defined, and continue to define, our understanding of biological systems and have profound implications for interventions in the health arena (and other industries). SB is concerned with gaining insight into the workings of biological systems through the determination of the three dimensional structures of biological objects ranging from cells to macromolecules.
Hence, the establishment of a SB Research Unit will contribute both to our fundamental understanding of biology and disease as well as to drug discovery through determination of biological structure at a variety of different scales.
What is Purpose of the Unit?
- To establish an identifiable home for promotion of research and human capacity development in structural biology at UCT.
- To raise funds explicitly to enable structural work to be done at UCT.
- To create an enabling environment for the education of postgraduate students and post-doctoral fellows in the field of SB
- To develop the discipline by engaging in multi scale structural research on biological objects ranging from molecules to cells (i.e. through training people and conducting research).
- To create a mutually supportive and synergistic environment for the development of the discipline of SB.
What is the nature of the SB Research Unit?
The Unit will be a grant funded entity, operationally located in the Division of Medical Biochemistry, Department of Clinical Laboratory Sciences at UCT Medical School, under Directorship of Prof Trevor Sewell. Currently most structural work is undertaken in labs in the Electron Microscope Unit, Molecular and Cell Biology (on UCT upper campus), the Sturrock lab in Medial Biochemistry at Medical School, and in the Structural Biology Division at UWC.
New NRF Ratings for CLS Researchers - November 2011
Congratulations to the following:
|Prof Ed Sturrock||B1 rating|
|Prof Trevor Sewell||B2 rating|
|Assoc Prof Nicola Mulder||B3 rating|
|Dr Shaheen Mowla||Y2 rating|
CLS and HUB Research Day was held on 7 September 2011 in the New Learning Centre.
20 oral presentations and 54 poster presentations were given by students and a small number of staff members. The proceedings was well attended and the departments congratulate the winners:
1st prize oral - Aretha Cooper MSc student HUB
2nd prize oral - Lindi Roberts PhD student Virology
3rd prize oral - Toni-Lee Sterley PhD students HUB
1st prize poster - Kristy Offerman - MSc student Virology
2nd prize poster - Saeb Aliwani - PhD HUB
3rd prize poster - Simon Broadley MSc student Electron Microscope Unit
Lafras Steyn prize for innovation - Nina Holderness PhD student Medical Biochemistry
Aisha Pandor from Human Genetics receives Doctoral Fellowship from the DST, South African Women in Science 2011
The award recognises Aisha's academic achievements together with her Social Responsiveness (i.e. engaging with the community outside of her primary research/training).
From the DST website:
Ms Pandor is currently finalising her PhD studies at the Division of Human Genetics at the University of Cape Town. Her thesis involves investigating the molecular mechanisms behind retinitis pigmentosa 17, a form of hereditary blindness, and using her results to explore methods of gene therapy for this disease. She has published her findings in an international peer-reviewed journal, and is preparing three more manuscripts on her research. Ms Pandor has spoken at meetings of retinal support groups and has also organised a seminar on research, healthcare, education, and policy for people with disabilities at which education experts and a representative from the Department of Women, Children and Persons with Disability gave talks. Apart from her PhD, Ms Pandor is studying towards an Associate in Management at the UCT Graduate School of Business. Ms Pandor has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the prestigious David and Elaine Potter Fellowship.
Shareefa Dalvie from Human Genetics awarded a UCT Research Associate-ship
Congratulations to Shareefa Dalvie who was awarded a UCT Research Associate-ship at a special Award Ceremony by the Vice Chancellor, at the Postgraduate Centre, Otto Beit Building, on Upper Campus on the 18th of August 2011.
This award is open to all postgraduates at MSc and PhD level. The competition from the Division was tough because of the excellent postgrads we have.
The shortlisting/ranking within the Division was done by a subcommittee of Exco, and included Jacquie, Collet and Raj. The competition is obviously stronger as it progresses through Department, Faculty and University. A major emphasis is the recognition of research productivity, as in paper/s published. Shareefa had one paper published in a journal, and another (Chapter in a book, as first author) in press (while she was still an MSc student). Her attendance at two advanced international courses was also taken into account (both Stats Genetics courses by that stage, and more recently for whole genome sequencing at the Univ of Southern California). Shareefa's mentorship and supervisory roles, i.e. contributing to capacity development, were also taken into account.
Immunology MSc student among Mail & Guardian's 200 Top South Africans
Umeshree Govender in the Science & Technology category
Scientist Umeshree Govender has a favourite motto: "Don't be afraid to have a good 'booty-shake' in a lab coat!"
The 24-year-old Govender, who has always dreamed of "saving the world", has made an impressive start. Using groundbreaking techniques she is battling against a silent killer: bilharzia ...
copyright Mail & Guardian M&G Media Ltd
Prof Raj Ramesar's visit to Hydra
Prof Ramesar of the Division of Human Genetics was recently invited to be part of the PaCT research meeting on the Island of Hydra, by the Dept of Public Health of Harvard University. He was asked to write a little piece for their Harvard Epi newsletter (called Epitome). The different points of view are interesting.Read article
AG Oettle Memorial Medal of Honor citation
The CEO of CANSA takes pride in presenting the AG Oettle Memorial Medal
to PROFESSOR ANNA-LISE WILLIAMSON of the Division of Medical Virology
L-R: Mrs Sue Janse van Rensburg (CEO of CANSA) Professor Basil Bloch (Retired from UCT)
Professor Anna-Lise Williamson (UCT/NHLS), Dr Carl Albrecht (Head: CANSA Research)
Prof Williamson was born in Johannesburg and attended schools in Zambia and Zimbabwe. She completed her university studies at the University of the Witwatersrand in 1985. In 2004 she was promoted to Professor at UCT. In 2008 she was awarded Chair in Vaccinology (South African Research Chairs Initiative). Currently she holds the position of Project Director, Division of Medical Virology at the University of Cape Town.Prof Williamson is an international recognized expert on human papillomavirus (HPV). Her strength is the ability to bring together multidisciplinary teams of people to do fruitful research as well as train post-graduate students. Her initial work was on a novel retrovirus in sheep, but it is her ongoing research on the human papillomavirus - a leading cause of cervical cancer - and the human immunodeficiency virus that has defined her career thus far. As head of the HIV Vaccine Development Group at UCT, Williamson nursed the first African-developed candidate vaccines - both targeting HIV subtype C, the most common strain in Africa - to human trials in 2009. The group has an ongoing interest in studying HPV types associated with cervical and oral disease. The immune response to HPV is an ongoing interest with assays that have been developed to study mucosal immunity to HPV. Prof Williamson published 150 journals, non-refereed articles and abstracts in internationally recognized journals. Her publications reflect productive collaborations with Department of Public Health (UCT), Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (UCT), pathologists, dentists, immunologists, veterinary researchers and internationally recognised scientists from the USA, Singapore and the UK. Recent collaborations include researchers from Japan and Sweden. Most of her local and international collaborations have been on HPV. In 2006 her laboratory became a WHO regional HPV reference laboratory and is the only one in the "Africa" region. WHO is supporting the establishment of a global WHO HPV Laboratory Network whose mission is to "contribute to improving the quality of laboratory services for effective surveillance and monitoring of HPV vaccination impact through enhanced, state-of-the-art laboratory support". Prof Williamson's work has proven enormously influential to researchers worldwide. CANSA honors this distinguished scientist for advancing cancer research and the understanding of our most devastating diseases.
Young Researcher Award for Dr Jo-Ann Passmore of the Division of Medical Virology
Next generation: The College of Fellows presented its Young Researcher Awards at the College of Fellows dinner. Here with vice-chancellor Dr Max Price (centre) were honoured Dr Shadreck Chirikure, Dr Gina Ziervogel, Dr Elmi Muller, Assoc Prof Genevieve Langdon, Dr Jo-Ann Passmore and Dr Amanda Weltman.
Dr Jo-Ann Passmore has recently been awarded the UCT College of Fellows Young Researcher Award which is awarded in recognition of outstanding scholarly work by young academics who have made significant independent contributions to research in their field and who have been in full-time employment at UCT for not more than 5 years.
Dr Jo-Ann Passmore is a senior lecturer in the Division of Medical Virology. Jo-Ann is a dedicated young academic who plays a pivotal role both in research and teaching. She has an internationally recognised research group that investigates immunity in the female genital tract during HIV transmission and identifies correlates of protection against mucosal HIV infection. Jo-Ann has many publications in high impact virology journals. She presently supervises five PhD students, three M.Sc students and a B.Sc honours student and lectures to both Infectious Diseases and Immunology honours students and 2nd year Human Biology students.
Dr Jackson Marakalala, a post doctoral student in the Division of Immunology was awarded the highly prestigious Sydney Brenner Fellowship from ASSAF.
Recipients of the annual ASSAf awards, from left, Dr Mohlopheni Jackson Marakalala from the Institute of Infectious Diseases and Molecular Medicine who was awarded the Sydney Brenner Fellowship Award and Professors Diane Hildebrandt from the University of the Witwatersrand and Eugene T Cloete from the Stellenbosch University, who both received the Science-for-Society Gold Award.
Photo courtesy of ASSAF