South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC)
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Media statement

7 February 2014

South African Medical Research gains international accolades

“After decades of decline, South Africa’s Medical Research Council (MRC) has undergone a dramatic turnaround in recent years, with a more than 50% increase in government funding,” according to the prestigious scientific journal, Nature Medicine.

The February issue of Nature Medicine released this Thursday night details the encouraging changes in medical research in South Africa, commenting that “the MRC has undergone a complete overhaul” in “reorienting its research priorities on national health challenges.”  An accompanying Editorial in the same journal highlights how “skilled leadership” and strong government support “has helped revitalize the MRC”. 

The MRC’s revitalization strategy was developed in April 2012 when Professor Salim S. Abdool Karim was appointed MRC President. Under his watch, the MRC’s research is making a greater impact on improving health in South Africa. The new vision has inspired new confidence in the MRC internationally; and government funding for the MRC has, as a result grown from R246 million in 2012/3 to R446 million in 2014/5 with several additional increases to follow thereafter.  

Reacting to the report in Nature Medicine, Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi commented “We are proud of the MRC’s accomplishments. The MRC’s turnaround strategy led by Professor Abdool Karim has enabled South Africa to resume its rightful place as one of the global leaders in medical research.” 

Minister of Science and Technology, Mr Derek Hanekom agrees, "The MRC has emerged as one of the leading lights in the South African science & technology landscape. Its achievements bode well for the future of medical research in our country."

The articles in Nature Medicine highlight the MRC’s rejuvenation into a new revitalized entity, where the research addresses the country’s most important diseases. This, together with significant efficiency improvements in support and administration, has freed up funds for research at South Africa’s medical schools and universities.

Professor Mike Sathekge, Chair of the MRC Board commented that, "The MRC is now a uniquely placed South African institution that blends scientific excellence and innovation with the highest ethical standards in all of the medical research it funds and conducts with the aim of improving health".  Dr Roseanne Diab, Chief Executive Office of the Academy of Science in South Africa said that, “The MRC has a fine record of which South Africa can be justifiably proud. I believe that with the inspiring leadership that we have seen recently from government and the science community, that the MRC is poised to take South African medical research into a new era.”

As Professor Abdool Karim departs from the MRC in March 2014, having completed a 2-year term as President, Nature Medicine notes that Abdool Karim “…and his team have acted as a spark plug to reignite the power of the MRC; it’s now in the hands of the government and the institution’s next leader to keep that powerful engine running.”

The articles are available on the Nature Medicine Website and can be accessed below.

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Aziel Gangerdine
Head of Corporate Communications
South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC)
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