Unit Director: Professor Paul Ruff
The Wits/MRC Common Epithelial Research Centre (CERC) will focus on breast, colorectal, hepatobiliary and pancreatic cancers diagnosed and treated at the University of the Witwatersrand Faculty of Health Sciences (Wits) Teaching hospitals, Chris Hani Baragwanath and Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospitals. These three adenocarcinomas selected fall within the top ten most frequent cancer deaths in South Africa. Breast is the commonest cancer among women and colorectal third highest for both men and women.
The primary aims of the programmes will be:
- Collaboration and integration of multi-disciplinary cancer management at Wits teaching hospitals, especially between surgeons and oncologists;
- To enhance existing research collaborations across Faculties of Health Sciences (clinical/epidemiology and biomarker research), Science (molecular cell biology) and Engineering (bioinformatics and data management support) at Wits;
- To expand utilisation of the National Cancer Registry and existing Wits hospital-based cancer registries for better patient management;
- To improve national and international cancer management and research collaborations;
- To enhance and improve existing research biobanks (Wits, NHLS and laboratory facilities)’
- To provide data to the National Cancer Registry; and
- To expand the recently developed NCR regional population-based registries.
CERC Research activities will determine patient demographics, clinical epidemiology, treatment, cancer risk and prognosis as well as outcomes. Prognostic and predictive biomarkers will be evaluated as suitable markers for cancer detection and treatment outcomes for all three epithelial cancers. Personal, social and health system barriers will be identified to enable recommendations guiding health policies for earlier diagnosis and treatment.