Page 1 - Faculty of Health Sciences

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FACULTY OF health scienceS
Dean’s report
The Faculty of Health Sciences
has a strong reputation for
research excellence and our
research continued to progress
robustly in 2011. On the cusp of
our centenary year, the faculty
aims to build on its proud history
of medical achievement and
cutting-edge research, while
remaining aware of the need to respond to
South Africa’s and Africa’s problems in the
context of global health challenges.
To improve the health and well-being of our population,
there is growing emphasis in the faculty that the research we
are involved in should include a translational component:
scientific discoveries must be translated into practical
applications and then be implemented in an innovative
and cost-effective manner.
According to international faculty rankings in the
World University Rankings 2011, ours is the only faculty
from an African university to be in the top 200 positions
in the field of Life Sciences and Medicine. This hard-
earned reputation of the faculty has allowed it to aspire
to being in the top 50 positions by 2020 and to win
admirable levels of support from international donors.
This is an important consideration, given that the vast
majority of the faculty’s research funding comes from
foreign sources (in particular, foreign governmental and
non-profit organisations). In 2011, the faculty was awarded
R409 million in research contracts, which represents close
to 57 percent of the university’s total research revenue
(compared to 46 percent in 2010).
A further R29 million was awarded to support postgraduate
students during 2011. A total of 1 470 students registered
for postgraduate studies in the faculty in 2011, when 135
postgraduate diplomas and 69 honours, 144 master’s and
52 doctoral degrees were awarded. The national aspiration
to dramatically increase the number of postgraduate
students trained each year requires universities to not
only simply increase funding for student bursaries, but
also to support the postdoctoral and mid-career fellows
who play a crucial role in supporting and supervising
postgraduate students. Another part of our efforts to grow
the next generation of health researchers, with special
attention to those from designated groups,
was our very strong representation in
UCT’s Emerging Researcher Programme,
in which 121 of our staff participated.
This capacity-building initiative provides
research development grants, workshops,
and other mentoring activities to our young
researchers and academics, and plays a
significant part in not only strengthening
their research profiles, but also preparing
them for future leadership in research.
By revitalising its training of clinical
scholars, the faculty is responding actively
to the serious dearth of appropriately
trained clinician scientists in our country, as highlighted
in a recent report by the Academy of Science of South
Africa. The new Clinical Scholars Programme, which
provides training for research degrees in addition to the
professional training programmes offered, admitted its
first scholars in 2011. The programme will not only draw
students from UCT, but also from other African institutions
with which we have established links.
From January 2011, all clinicians in South Africa who
are in training as medical specialists are required by the
Health Professions Council of South Africa to register for
MMed/MPhil degrees, for which a research dissertation
must be completed. While this creates a real opportunity for
growing clinical scholars, it also highlights the substantial
constraints to be overcome in securing sufficient time
for research by trainee specialists and their supervisors,
and procuring adequate funds and infrastructure for
such research. This has necessitated urgent fund raising
for this purpose, with a focus on finding support for our
faculty-wide Centres for Clinical Research, Innovation and
Undergraduate research continues to grow in the
Faculty of Health Sciences, with a record number of 53
abstracts submitted by our students for the third annual
Undergraduate Research Day in 2011. The enthusiasm
of the students and the quality of the research presented
remains impressive, with a number of these undergraduate
research projects being presented at conferences or as
publications in peer-reviewed journals.
Our established researchers continued to perform at a
very high level. There are 86 NRF-rated researchers in
the faculty: nine with an A-rating, 23 with a B-rating and
38 C-rated. Encouragingly, 16 young researchers secured
a Y-rating. One of the two new A-ratings at UCT was
awarded to Professor Heather Zar of the Department of
Paediatrics and Child Health, only the third woman at UCT
to be so rated by the NRF.
Faculty of
Health Sciences