Dean's Corner - August 2017

14 Aug 2017 - 15:15

Welcome to the second edition of Faculty News for 2017.
Since our last issue, much has happened to celebrate in the Faculty.

In this edition, we share the illustrious accomplishments of our Faculty staff, students and alumni through their academic work, research, innovative curriculum development and impactful community engagement.

Our main story, from the School of Public Health and Family Medicine, tells of an inspirational partnership piloting a new model for strengthening community engagement on health in disadvantaged areas. By providing training, the programme equips citizens with skills to fill gaps in health and counselling services in their communities.

We congratulate staff and alumni for recognition of demonstrated excellence: among them are Professor John Ele-Oo Ataguba at the NSTF-South32 Awards, for winning this year’s NTSF-TW Kambule Award for an emerging researcher; eight of our alumni and staff made this year’s Mail and Guardian Top 200 list for their contributions to science, teaching and community health; Professor Ambroise Wonkam, whose work in remedying the history of neglect in sickle cell research, was boosted by funding from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI);  alumnus Professor David Rubinsztein of the University of Cambridge was recently elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of London, joining Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein in this prestigious society which acknowledges outstanding contributions to science; and to Professor Johan Fagan for his gold medal by the International Federation of Otolaryngology Societies (IFOS)  in recognition of his contributions to ENT internationally through his two open access textbooks, and for advancing head and neck surgery in Africa by training head and neck surgeons.

Curriculum innovation is in the spotlight with the new diploma in cosmetic formulation, a first for Africa, convened by Professor Nonhlanhla Khumalo, which addresses the divide between scientists who develop cosmetic products and dermatologists. On the clinical training front, Dr Rachel Weiss and Dr Natashia Muna, together with a team of colleagues from Health and Rehabilitation, Disability Studies, African Languages and the Intervention Programme, are forging a new path in medical teaching with the Patient Partner Programme, with the focus on developing patient centred communication.

We hosted for the first time the World Heart Federation Emerging Leaders 2017 seminar, which brought together 25 Emerging leaders (Els) selected through a competitive process from around the world, three of whom are from UCT. Focusing on the cross-cutting theme of access to essential medicines,  the seminar was hosted by the World Heart Foundation’s President-Elect Professor Karen Sliwa at the Hatter Institute for Cardiovascular Research in Africa.

Please do read findings published in a new report involving Professor Naomi (Dinky) Levitt, of the Division of Diabetic Medicine and Endocrinology, on how ill-prepared sub-Saharan Africa is to cope with the growing health burden of diabetes. Professor Levitt warns that diabetes and its complications could reverse some of the recent health gains in our region, overwhelm our health systems and cripple patients’ personal finances as they fund their own healthcare.

Two new super-resolution, state-of-the-art and multi-functional Carl Zeiss confocal microscopes, recently launched in the IDM, will help researchers take an unprecedentedly close look into the cellular processes that govern diseases like tuberculosis, cancer and HIV/AIDS.

We are proud of our students whose activities on campus challenge and encourage us to acknowledge our diversity and history. During May, the Health Sciences Student Council coordinated a jam-packed Africa month with activities that included fundraising for the Impilo Student Bursary Fund and a colourful Africa Day celebration.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Faculty community, including alumni, for their generous contributions to the Impilo Fund. I am pleased to report that through these efforts, we have been able to assist our students with paying their outstanding fees. We will continue to raise funds to support academically talented students in financial need.

Best wishes