Building cancer research in the Faculty of Health Sciences

4 Dec 2013 - 15:57

Building cancer research in the Faculty of Health Sciences

Results of a Faculty cancer research situational analysis were presented at a seminar of the Faculty of Health Sciences' new Cancer Research Initiative on 27th November 2013. Director of Cancer Research Associate Professor Jennifer Moodley presented the outcome of a cancer researcher survey, an analysis of current cancer research projects, feedback from discussions with key internal and external role players and an analysis of recent research publications.

Professor Moodley, appointed 6 months ago to to drive the creation of an integrated collaborative cancer research programme in the Faculty, indicated that there are currently 90 cancer research projects in the Faculty addressing a wide range of cancer types. These projects were classified into seven broad areas of scientific interest from underpinning basic science research to population-based research.

"This has enabled us to see which types of cancers we currently focus on and which we are neglecting, and where the gaps are along the continuum from basic to population science", said Professor Moodley.

Professor Raymond Abratt, Head of Radiation Oncology, spoke about a patient-centered approach to cancer research and the multi-disciplinary clinics at Groote Schuur Hospital that provide high quality cancer care to a large, diverse patient population.

The seminar, the first of its kind in the Faculty, and well attended by basic scientists, clinicians, clinician-scientists and public health researchers from the Faculty of Health Sciences, as well as researchers from other faculties, generated a range of stimulating comments from the floor.

From the situational analysis and discussion it was clear that the Faculty has a solid foundation on which to build with its excellent researchers and high-quality clinical services.

"We will build on this foundation", said Professor Moodley, "and be at the forefront of research endeavours to address the alarming cancer burden in South Africa, Africa and beyond. We want to integrate patient care, research, training and community engagement to help ensure that research is translated into public benefit."

Future plans include increasing collaborative, interdisciplinary cancer research; developing cancer researcher capacity to build a critical mass of skilled cancer researchers across the spectrum of research; developing a cancer research infrastructure that supports high-quality research and focusing cancer research efforts to grow niche areas. A cancer research strategy is being finalised.

Associate Professor Moodley is being assisted by an interim cancer research task team, comprising Professors Greg Hussey, Raymond Abratt, Denver Hendriks, Tania Douglas and Dr Yolande Harley.