Scholarships and Research Grant Funding

The SAMRC’s Research Capacity Development (RCD) Division supports the growth of health research capacity by offering scholarships to South African citizens studying towards their Masters, PhDs and Post-doctoral qualifications in Medical and Health Sciences.

The Division also focuses on strengthening capacity development within previously under-resourced universities to ensure that they are able to produce scientific knowledge for the advancement of health.

All applications for SAMRC funding undergo a review process. Only the very best candidates and/or research projects receive funding.

All scholarship applicants must be registered for the degree they are seeking funding for.


The National Health Scholars Programme (NHSP) is an initiative of the National Health Research Committee (NHRC). The NHSP is funded by the Public Health Enhancement Fund (PHEF) under the auspices of the National Department of Health (NDoH)

There is no set amount of scholarship value. The scholarship value  is determined by establishing how much the SA Government would pay the candidate if they were full time employed with the qualifications they currently hold. Thus the scholarship value  is equivalent to the after-tax take-home pay of the candidate, based on the salary scales of the relevant post (or equivalent) in the National Department of Health.

Eligible candidates: the priority is to focus on professions in which research skills are scarce or still being developed such as Biostatistics, Nursing, Health Economics, Health Systems  etc as well as to strengthen under represented designated groups, institutions and research tracks, on PhDs and where compelling Masters degrees.

Applications are invited for scholarships that are funded by the Public Health Enhancement Fund (PHEF) under the National Health Scholars Programme. The PhD scholarships for are tenable in South African universities. Funding is for a full degree period ( completion) as a tax free scholarship for full-time study.
Closing date: Tuesday, October 30, 2018 - 23:59

 The first group of National Health Scholars Program was funded in 2013.

For more information contact dedicated administrator:
Pumla Zonke at or call 021 938 0250

Visiting Research Scientist at University of Cambridge | Cape Town Area, South Africa

Caroline Pule is funded by National Health Scholars Program, her research focuses on understanding the physiology of drug resistant and tolerant M. tuberculosis and their host response in the context of the host macrophage. she explores these by the use of proteomic analysis, fluorescence dilution and macrophage-model experiments and integrate resulting data using bioinformatics, her key strengths, have completed scientific writing and life skills workshops, Caroline Pule Science and Literacy Foundation (CPSLF) in 2011, in order to help empower and educate less-fortunate individuals, thereby giving back to South African’s who don’t have similar opportunities

Ms Caroline Pule, currently funded under the National Scholarship Program (NHSP)


The SAMRC Researcher Development Grant is a strategic Staff PhD Development Grant.

The value is R250 000.00 once off to fund last year of the PhD.

Application process is initiated by email to Dr Maitin stating intension to apply for support.

Guidance will be provided after initial profiling.

For more information contact dedicated administrator or call 021 938 0945

Ms. Portia Simelane at the 2018 International Aids Conference, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Ms. Simelane is one of the beneficiaries in the Researcher Development Grant category in 2018. She has recently been invited to present her abstract, “Socio-Demographic Factors Affecting Patients Adherence to Antiretroviral Therapy in a Wellness Centre in South Africa” from her PhD work at the 2018 International Aids Conference, Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Ms. Simelane’s study has also been selected for presentation by the London School of Health and Tropical Medicine for the Women Leaders in Global Health Conference taking place on the 08th-09th November 2018.


The SAMRC has partnered with the Government of Switzerland via the Swiss Vaccine Research Institute  (SVRC) and the University of Lausanne (UL) in a capacity development program in the research field of Vaccine Development. This is an e-learning facilitated program.  As at four (4) universities within South Africa are hosting scholars participating on the program, namely MUT, SMU, UKZN and WSU. The value of the scholarship is R278 000.00 for completion of the Master degree. The next request for applications will be later in the year.

For more information: contact dedicared administrator:
Thobile Mabuya at or call  021 938 0432

2018 IMVACC Kick-off meeting

[ L-R : in the middle; International Student, Prof Jean-Pierre Kraehenbuhl ( convener ), Dr Lebelo, Dr Mtingi and Dr Tladi ]

The kick-off meeting and induction were held in Switzerland earlier this year between 12 – 13 March 2018.  The new scholars will be the third cohort of participants in the partnership between SAMRC, SVRI and the University of Lausanne (UL) and they are expected to complete their degrees in 2019.


There is a dearth of MBChB or D.D.S graduates that read for PhD research degree. The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) continues to strengthen efforts that take cognizance of this paucity of Clinician researchers in South Africa.

The value of the scholarship is R500 000.00 p.a per scholar up to maximum of 4 yrs.

For more information: contact dedicared administrator:
Thobile Mabuya at or call  021 938 0432

Dr Mohammed Dalwai

Dr Alex Doruyter, completed an SAMRC-funded PhD in 2018; Under the SAMRC Clinician Researcher PhD Scholarship Program

His work investigated various neuroimaging correlates of social anxiety disorder (SAD) and how these relate to social cognitive function. His work demonstrated disruptions in several brain regions and networks that contribute to our understanding of social cognitive deficits in SAD, and how these are affected by therapy. Results from his work may inform future experiments investigating the underlying biology of SAD and understanding the mechanism of treatment effects in the disorder. The PhD has generated several publications and conference papers with additional publications expected in the coming months. Dr Doruyter remains involved in several neuroimaging research projects investigating psychiatric and neurological conditions.


The purpose of the research fellowship is to contribute and assist in accelerating the building of intramural research capacity and scientific leadership within the SAMRC. This is done by creating opportunities for intramural research units within the SAMRC to host post-doctoral scientist that has demonstrated a potential to become established researcher.

The value of the grant is R350 000.00 p.a per fellow for 3 years with an option to extend to further 2 years subject to satisfactory performance and the availability of funds.

As at February 2018, Research Capacity Development (RCD) Division boasts six units hosting a total of fourteen post-doctoral fellows. The host research units are:  Centre for Tuberculosis Research Unit (TBRU), Biomedical Research Innovation Platform (BRIP), Health Systems Research Unit (HSRU), Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs Research Unit (ATODRU), Cochrane South Africa and Gender and Health Research Unit (GHRU).

For more information: contact dedicated administrator:
Thobile Mabuya at or call  021 938 0432


Dr Taime Sylvester

Dr Sylvester joined the Department of Biomedical Sciences at Stellenbosch University in 2014 when she started her PhD in Molecular Biology.  Her research focusses on characterizing the immune response of African lions to Mycobacterium bovis infection. In 2018, Taime joined Prof Rob Warren’s TB Genomics Research group, in the SA MRC Centre for Tuberculosis Research at Stellenbosch University, as a post-doctoral fellow. In partnership with in-country collaborators, during her postdoctoral period she will also aim to investigate the molecular epidemiology of tuberculosis in Namibia. She also has a keen interest in the role of epigenetics in tuberculosis infection


This is a strategic initiative of the President of the SAMRC. The objective of the project is for the SAMRC to increase its footprint nationally to include all strata of universities - particularly to include under resourced universities otherwise referred to as Historically Disadvantaged Institutions (HDIs). To date, eight universities have been invited for participation under this initiative, namely: i) University of Limpopo, ii) University of Venda, iii) University of Zululand, iv) University of Fort Hare, v) Walter Sisulu University, vi) University of the Western Cape, vii) Mangosutho University of Technology and viii) Sefako Makgatho University.

Each university is awarded one million rand per financial year (R1 000 000.00 per FY) for five years.  Currently there are 16 funded PIs hosted in the eight universities.

For more information contact dedicated administrator: or call 021 9380873


Prof Solani Mathebula - PI on the RCDI (HDI) Programme

Prof Mathebula has won research awards from University of Limpopo.  The SAMRC awarded him a grant for research as a PI on the RCDI (HDI) programme and he has since achieved remarkable milestone by recently publishing two papers within a short time with his grant. These papers appear in African Vision and Eye Health on the topics, “Comparison of the amplitude of accommodation determined subjectively and objectively in South African university students” and “Biochemical changes in diabetic retinopathy triggered by hyperglycemia”. Through this research Prof Mathebula hopes to make an impact on the quality of life of HIV/AIDS individuals.


Postgraduate scholars are identified and supervised by a PI funded under the RCDI project described in 6 above. The scholars do research towards an MSc or PhD at the University in which the funded PI is doing his/her research. Post graduate scholars are awarded scholarships worth R160 000.00 pa for MSc and R200 000.00 pa for PhD to degree completion.

Application process is by identification and invitation by RCDI funded PI at the HDI.

For more information contact dedicated administrator: or call 021 9380873

Dr Nontokozo Daphney Matume (Researcher)

Dr Matume who has just graduated for her PhD degree at the University of Venda, was funded by the SAMRC on the Post-Graduate Scholarship program. She was a student under our PI Prof Pascal Bessong on the RCDI program who is investigating “Acquired and transmitted HIV drug resistance in Limpopo Province”

The SAMRC has just awarded her a Post-Doctoral fellowship in Molecular Genetics to improve her skills as she is set towards becoming an independent researcher.

She has published in Journal of Clinical Virology, as well as Anti-HIV-1 replication properties of a herbal preparation (Pheko). WANNPRES 2014 abstracts African Journal of Traditional Complement Alternative Medicine. (2015) 12(S):1-44. She has done a few oral and poster presentations at several conferences.

SAMRC is proud to be part of her journey to success.


A strategic initiative of the President of the SAMRC. The objective of the project is the establishment of a 2-year pilot mid-career scientist programme to fast-track and transition mid-career scientists to independent researchers who will become equipped to write their own grants and thereby secure their own salary and research support. The mid-career scientist programme will invest in promising mid-career scientists to facilitate their retention in the public sector in areas of strategic interest to both the NDoH and the SAMRC.

To date, four mid-career scientists have been invited for participation under this project, namely: i) University of Cape Town, ii) University of Western Cape, iii) Walter Sisulu University, and VI) Sefako Makgatho University.

Each mid-career scientist is awarded one million two hundred fifty rand for the first year (R1 250 000.00per FY) and one million five hundred rand for the second year (R1 500 000.00 per FY)

For more information contact dedicated administrator: or call 021 9380873

Dr Sibeko Sengeziwe

Dr Sengeziwe Sibeko is a 44-year-old South African citizen who received education, including medical training, in South Africa. She qualified as an Obstetrician and Gynecologist in 2005 and successfully completed Global Health Training under the Fogarty International Scholars program in 2007 at the National Institutes of Health in Washington DC. She subsequently completed training as an Epidemiologist at the Columbia University in New York under a CU-SA Fogarty AITRP Fellowship award in 2009. She has recently graduated from the University of Oxford with a DPhil (PhD) in Clinical Medicine focusing on Mucosal Immunology of the female genital tract. The Oxford Nuffield Medical Fellowship, Discovery Foundation Academic Fellowship, Oppenheimer Memorial Trust, and the South African Medical Research Council’s (SA MRC) Clinician Researcher Program Scholarship funded her DPhil studies. Prior to going to Oxford, she was previously a Research Gynecologist working full-time.


Funding for MSc or PhD.  This program focuses on funding Generic Black Candidates (African Black, Indian, Coloured and Asian) whose research supervisors are employees or researchers at SAMRC -  working for the SAMRC as researchers within SAMRC intra or extra mural research units. The research supervisor may also be an SAMRC funded Principal Investigator working as a research scientist at any of the universities in South Africa.

The SAMRC Internship Scholarship Programme has renewed 18 beneficiaries that will be continuing in the 2018/19 Financial Year

For more information contact dedicated administrator:  call 021 9380911/0945


Ms. Neziswa Titi

Neziswa Titi is a PhD Scholar in the SAMRC Internship Scholarship Program hosted by the Violence, Injury, and Peace Research Unit (VIPRO) and is registered with Unisa’s Psychology Department. She has been working as a Scientist at the SAMRC for a couple of years before being granted a PhD scholarship through the Program. The funding enabled her to work in the Trans-disciplinary African Psychologies Programme (TAP) where her PhD is located under the mentorship of her supervisor, Professor Ratele. 

Early Career Scientist Convention



Division Manager: Dr Thabi Maitin