The four new South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) Extramural Research Units were launched under the theme, “Strengthening the Health Systems of the Country” on Monday, 22 August 2022 in Johannesburg.
SAMRC awarded University of Johannesburg (UJ) an Extramural Research Unit (EMU) on 24 February 2022, following the successful application by Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health, Refilwe Phaswana-Mafuya from the Department of Environmental Health. The SAMRC / UJ Pan African Centre for Epidemics Research (PACER) Research Unit was established on 1 April 2022, with Prof Phaswana-Mafuya appointed as Centre Director for her outstanding scientific research stature.
The establishment of the four new EMUs aims to increase support of under-represented scientists engaged in health research, expand and complement the existing EMUs and address South Africa’s quadruple burden of disease and emerging global health challenges such as Covid-19 under the listed SAMRC Research Programmes in Biomedical Research, Public Health, Health Systems Strengthening, HIV, AIDS and other Communicable Diseases, Maternal, Child and Women’s Health and Health Promotions and Disease Prevention.
Says Prof Phaswana-Mafuya: “The new extramural units are aimed at strengthening South Africa’s health systems in tackling current disease burden as well as pandemics such as COVID-19. PACER EMU’s research agenda is underpinned by scientific excellence, public health significance, multi/inter-disciplinarity, innovativeness, local relevance as well as global competitiveness and impact. It will inform key service delivery adaptations and innovations; new models of care in pandemic times; strengthen infectious disease outbreak management systems and public health accountability mechanisms. It will also contribute towards improved health outcomes; reduction of excess morbidity and mortality and Sustainable Development Goals.”
The establishment of the new Extramural Units is aligned to the SAMRC’s long-term goal of increasing support for underrepresented scientists engaged in health research and is also a reiteration of the organisation’s commitment to contributing to and transforming the country’s scientific landscape and its knowledge economy while maintaining world class standards and a competitive position.
On congratulating the new SAMRC Unit Directors, Deputy Minister of Health, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo reminded them of their role in establishing key enabling platforms to facilitate the generation of new knowledge through world-class applied research; to train and mentor a new generation of high-quality postgraduate students and postdoctoral fellows in multi-disciplinary research, and in so doing, equip them to compete in the science and education sectors nationally and internationally.
Dr Dhlomo said: “You also have a responsibility to increase the body of scientific knowledge through research translation into products, patents, research papers, policy, practice and health promotion including to the general public; and lastly to increase the number of health-care innovations and to produce patents and health products based on new discoveries and new research”.
The Four Extramural Units will be led by:
Prof Refilwe Phaswana-Mafuya, Director: Pan African Centre for Epidemics Research
Prof Pascal Bessong, Director: Antimicrobial Resistance and Global Health Research Unit
Prof Collet Dandara, Director: Platform for Pharmacogenomics Research and Translation Research Unit
Prof Ntobeko Ntusi, Director: Intersection of Noncommunicable Disease and Infectious Diseases Research Unit
For more information, visit the SAMRC Webpage: www.samrc.ac.za
Link to SAMRC EMU launch video: https://youtu.be/jKC1KOjoUDs