HEALTH SCIENCES > DEAN'S REPORT

2010 proved to be another successful year for research in the Faculty of Health Sciences, with the most talked-about event of the year being the International Research Review that took place in November.

The decision to subject the Faculty’s research endeavours to peer review was the brainchild of Professor Gregory Hussey, Deputy Dean: Research. The panel was chaired by Dr Leon Fine, Professor of Biomedical Sciences and Medicine, and Director of Graduate Research Education at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and included a distinguished panel of internationally recognised health scientists. The panel reviewed the Faculty’s current research achievements and challenges, and its recommendations will be a critical contribution to the formulation of the Faculty’s research strategy for the next 10 years.

Across the Faculty and its disciplines, our academics continue to excel, with achievements ranging from research excellence awards and significant funding grants to peer recognition of global excellence and leadership as evidenced in prestigious publications, as well as the appointments of our colleagues to the governing boards of various international research bodies. One of the major thrusts initiated in 2010 was the stimulation of clinical research activities. Although this has always been an area of strong research emphasis within the Faculty, the approach has not always been closely linked to clinical practice and the training of health care practitioners. In recent months, a concerted effort has been made to strengthen these and to draw clinical research into the mainstream research arena, and these efforts are already beginning to pay off.

In 2010, the Faculty was home to more than 1 300 postgraduate students, with 242 of these being PhD candidates. During two graduation ceremonies, the University awarded 112 master’s degrees and a laudable 32 PhDs. Disciplines of focus ranged from the basic and clinical sciences to public health and population sciences. In addition, the Faculty boasted 117 postgraduate diplomas and 63 honours degrees, representing an important component of a taproot into more senior research degrees. Of importance is that the Faculty also hosts a significant number of postdoctoral fellows, numbering 68 in 2010.

A notable achievement was the increase in the number of publications in accredited journals by our Faculty from 348.89 in 2008 and 370.94 in 2009, to 383.42 units being published in 2010. This is approximately 70 per cent more than the number of publications, as measured by units, achieved five years ago.

In the year under review, researchers in the Faculty brought in almost R280 million in research contract funding, with the lion’s share coming from foreign organisations such as the US-based National Institutes of Health and the UK-based Wellcome Trust. We also take great pride in the relationships that we enjoy with South African funders across the spectrum, from government agencies to the corporate sector, and we continue to appreciate the invaluable contribution that they make to our research enterprise.

The Health Economics Unit celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2010. This Unit, which is widely recognised as the leading health economics academic institution in Africa, is also one of the most well-established and respected research units in this field in low- and middle-income countries. It continues to conduct research to inform national health financing policy developments, while also producing graduates who have been appointed to positions of influence in both academia and practice.

We were well represented at the 2010 Discovery Foundation Awards, with five individuals and two divisions having been awarded prizes, and the Institutional Award to Zithulele Hospital will facilitate the building of partnerships with the Faculty to advance our commitment to the training and support of rural health practitioners.

I continue to be immensely proud of the people who make up the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Cape Town, and thank them for their dedication and commitment.

Professor Marian Jacobs
Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences

 

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