Page 88 - UCT Research Report 2011

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UCT Research Report '11
Hatter Institute for
Cardiovascular Research
in Africa
The aim of the Hatter Institute is to facilitate national and
international research collaborations and to consolidate
and expand existing efforts to combat the most serious
cardiovascular threats to health, and to improve overall
prosperity in the region. Major research areas are cardiac
disease and maternity, cardioprotection, cardiovascular
genetics, and Heart of Africa projects. In Africa,
cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of
maternal death in pregnant women. The objective of the
institute’s Cardioprotection Group is the delineation of
novel cardioprotective pathways that can be activated to
limit cell death in various pathophysiological conditions,
such as heart failure, myocardial infarction or diabetes.
The Cardiovascular Genetics Group aims to discover the
genetic basis of inherited heart diseases that cause sudden
death. This work involves the study of families with rare
monogenic disease (that is, inherited cardiomyopathies
and arrhythmogenic disorders), and the delineation of
the genetic architecture of complex traits associated with
sudden death (such as cardiac hypertrophy).These studies
hold promise of discovering the critical biological pathways
that can be targeted by drugs to prevent sudden cardiac
death. The Heart of Africa Pan-African Hypertension
Cohort (PAPUCO) was established in 2010 to describe
the epidemiology and characteristics of pulmonary
hypertension in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Director: Professor K. Sliwa-Hahnle
Adolescent Health
Research Unit
Adolescents face a wide range of health problems, owing
to a combination of biological, social, and psychological
factors. There is thus a niche for a research facility that
focuses specifically on the health needs of adolescents.
The Adolescent Health Research Unit builds on existing
research and collaborations to co-ordinate, promote, and
facilitate research into all aspects of adolescent health.
The specific aims of the unit are to facilitate cutting-edge
inter-disciplinary research that addresses key national
public adolescent health priorities; promote networking
among adolescent health researchers, practitioners,
and policy makers; increase the profile of the Faculty of
Health Sciences in the arena of world-class adolescent
health research; provide policy consultation at local,
provincial, national, and international levels; and increase
and improve educational offerings in adolescent health at
undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
Director: Professor P. de Vries
MRC/UCT Cape Heart Centre
This combined research entity is the largest heart
research group in South Africa and forms part of the
Cape Heart Group that links research between UCT and
the other universities in the region. The Hatter Institute,
which is part of the MRC/UCT Cape Heart Centre, is
involved in the study of the molecular and cellular biology
of ischaemic heart disease, as well as the molecular
and cellular pathophysiology of cardiac hypertrophy
and heart failure. The goals of the research programme
are to contribute to the fundamental understanding
of the mechanisms in the development of ischaemic
heart disease, cardiac hypertrophy, and heart failure.
The Cardiovascular Research Institute, to which the
Medtronics Institute is allied, is studying biocompatible
materials for vascular and valvular prostheses. Lipidology
is concerned with research into lipid and lipoprotein
disorders in patients in the region and novel treatment
strategies for these disorders. Additionally, their research
includes new diagnostic assays for local problems in
health care and lipid peroxidation.
Director: Professor P. Zilla
Cardiovascular Research Unit
The core research pursuit of the Cardiovascular Research
Unit centres around the concept of regenerative medicine,
with the goal of engineered regeneration of diseased
structures through co-ordinated and site-directed signalling
to facilitate gradual in-situ remodelling of surgically
replaced hybrid biosynthetic devices. These offer patients
an immediate dramatic improvement in quality of life
through return to functionality of these diseased structures.
Director: Professor P. Zilla
Research groupings
associated with this theme