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Head of Division: Professor N. Novitzky

Divisional Profile

The Division of Haematology at Groote Schuur Hospital is a complex unit with multi disciplinary activities that include outpatient clinics, admission beds as well as diagnostic and research laboratories. The clinical services are organised under the umbrella of the Department of Internal Medicine, while the laboratory diagnostic sections are under the broader organisation of the Department of Clinical & Laboratory Sciences and National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS). The Haematology section of the laboratory was accredited with SANAS 3 years ago and after review, this accreditation was confirmed last year.

Patients with elaborate clinical problems, bone marrow failure or requiring stem cell transplantation are referred from all provinces; particularly the Northern and Eastern Cape and particularly we receive referrals from foreign institutions in Sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, individuals with multiple myeloma and other lymphoproliferative disorders are treated together with the Department of Radiation Oncology in combined clinics. Of concern is that a substantial increase in the numbers of HIV related malignancies and particularly Burkitt’s lymphoma and leukaemia that have significantly strained our hospital beds.

The Division of Haematology provides training for both undergraduate and postgraduate students at the Medical Faculty.  Registrars and consultants participate in undergraduate training, facilitating various modules focussing in blood disorders.  At the postgraduate level, training is given at the level of Masters and PhD courses in cell biology as well as specialist training in haematopathology for medical graduates.  In addition, within the Department of Clinical and Laboratory Sciences 3 divisions participate in the training provided to Clinical Pathology candidates. Regular experiential teaching and microscope tutorials are given to registrars in Haematopathology. Journal Clubs, seminars and group teaching is offered to Haematopathology, Clinical Haematology and general medical registrars. Interdepartmental meetings are held with academic staff from Tygerberg Hospital and Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital. Faculty members from the division also regularly contribute to the teaching programmes of the basic sciences as well as Departments of Internal Medicine and Clinical and Laboratory Sciences.

In addition a University of Cape Town Leukaemia Unit established within the division, has now been reviewed and approved by the University Research Committee and will continue focusing its research work in the area of haemopoietic stem cell biology and stem cell transplant immunology. The research laboratory located at the medical school campus is well equipped to support undergraduate and postgraduate pathology and science students. Dr Shaheen Mowla has joined Dr Karen Shires to expand the molecular and cellular research in the Leukaemia Unit laboratory.  The main objective will be to pursue further research into the area normal and malignant haematopoiesis, detection of minimal residual disease in patients with leukaemia, cellular therapies and stem cell transplantation. 


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