South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC)
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Media Release

3 December 2015  

R70 Million injected into TB control and implementation research

The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) today announced six new funding grants that will focus on TB research.   Together with its UK counterpart (UK MRC), the R70 million funding opportunity, provided by the Newton Fund, will support TB control implementation science over three years.

Speaking at a media briefing held at the 46th Union World Conference on Lung Health today, SAMRC President Professor Glenda Gray expressed her thoughts on this funding opportunity.  “It is pivotal that we direct funding to answer the most pressing questions relevant to TB research. We have one of the highest burdens of TB in the world. We need to assist the health system to diagnose TB quickly, link those who have TB into care, and cure all those diagnosed with TB. We need innovative implementation science to tackle a problem in South Africa to interrupt the seepage of people with TB out of care”.

South Africa’s National Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi welcomed the high impact research on TB implementation science saying, “we have the tools but need to optimize how to manage TB in our health system.  The response to TB must be bold and urgent”.

“These research awards will enable South African and British scientists the opportunity to work together to solve an acute global health issue” said British High Commissioner to South Africa, Judith Macgregor.  “It is excellent to see the UK -South Africa Newton Fund increasing research capacity and further strengthening the science and innovation partnership between our two countries”

In September 2014, the Department of Science and Technology minister, the Honourable Naledi Pandor, signed the collaborative partnership with the United Kingdom government to join the Newton Fund partnership.  These research projects will be conducted through collaborative partnerships between South African and UK researchers, with the possibility of researchers from other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa also participating. 

“Through these grants we implore the scientific expertise of TB researchers to find novel ways to identify those in the community with TB, decrease the time between diagnosis and treatment, and successfully cure our citizens with TB and prevent susceptible individuals from getting this disease.  This is the first time the SAMRC has funded TB implementation science at this scale”, Prof Gray concluded. 

NOTE TO THE EDITOR:
What is the Newton Fund?
The UK-South Africa Newton Fund is a subset of the UK’s global Newton Fund, worth £375 million fund over five years which, through science and innovation partnerships aims to promote the economic development and welfare of 15 partner countries.

In September 2014, the UK and South Africa signed an agreement to bolster their science and innovation partnership, jointly committing up to £8m per year, creating a catalyst to stimulate socio-economic development in South Africa. The fund is overseen by the UK’s Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) and South Africa’s Department of Science and Technology. The UK-SA programme focuses on research calls, fellowships, research chairs, mobility schemes, joint research programmes and activities focussing on science and technology capacity building, public health, environment and food security.  Visit: www.newtonfund.ac.uk for more information.   

List of awarded projects and their respective Institutions and Principal Investigators.

SAMRC/UKMRC Newton TB Awards – 2015

Principal Investigator Institution Title of research
Prof Wendy Stevens WITS: Department of Molecular Medicine and Haematology & the National Priority Program of the National Health Laboratory Services (NHLS) Technology supported systems for rapid impact on TB control
Dr Neil A. Martinson WITS: Perinatal & HIV Research Unit - A Division of the Wits Health Consortium (Pty) Ltd. A household cluster randomised trial of active case finding for HIV and TB, preventive treatment against TB, and ART initiation to prevent TB disease and transmission. (The HomeACF Study)
Prof Shabir Madhi WITS,  National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), SAMRC (Respiratory and Meningeal Pathogens Research Unit), Department of Science and Technology/ National Research Foundation (NRF) Application of novel strategies in district-level TB hotspots to reduce pre-treatment loss to follow-up and improve successful patient outcomes of microbiologically confirmed TB
Dr Salome Charalambous The Aurum Institute Optimizing the efficiency of household contact tracing for TB control in South Africa
Prof Olalekan Ayo-Yusuf Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University Improving TB outcomes by modifying life-style behaviours through a brief motivational intervention (PROLIFE)
Dr Kogieleum Naidoo CAPRISA, Doris Duke Medical Research Institute, Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) Addressing the challenges in scaling up TB and HIV treatment integration in public health settings in South Africa
    
Media Facilitation:  
Keletso Ratsela
Media Strategist
Tel: +27 76 0939 185
Email: kratsela@mrc.ac.za
 
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