Landmark institute launched to fight HIV/ TB
By NJABULO BETHELEZI in Durban
DURBAN, (CAJ News) – IN a project funded to the tune of R1,2 billion (US$83,6 million), two South African research organizations have partnered on a ground-breaking new interdisciplinary institute to fight tuberculosis (TB), HIV and related diseases.
The Africa Health Research Institute combines the renowned Africa Centre for Population Health’s detailed population data from over 100 000 participants, with the KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for TB-HIV’s (K-RITH’s) basic science, experimental medicine and world-class laboratory facilities.
Announced at the 21st International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa, the new venture is made possible through grants from Wellcome Trust and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). University College London (UCL) and the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) are significant academic partners.
Wellcome and HHMI are two of the largest funders of biomedical research. The establishment of the Africa Health Research Institute represents the first time the organisations have partnered in the global health arena.
Prof. Deenan Pillay, Director of the Africa Centre for Population Health, and incoming Director of the Africa Health Research Institute, says KwaZulu-Natal is at the centre of the dual epidemics of HIV and TB.
“We will link clinical and laboratory-based studies with social science, health systems research and population studies to make fundamental discoveries about these killer diseases, as well as demonstrating how best to reduce morbidity and mortality,” Pillay says.
Prof. David Lomas, UCL Vice-Provost (Health) says the university takes a collaborative approach to tackling major global challenges and forging successful partnerships.
He says the Africa Health Research Institute will become a significant global partner for UCL, in line with its Global Engagement Strategy. It will strengthen the translation of research into new therapies that address the HIV/TB co-epidemic and benefit human health.
UKZN spokesperson, Lesiba Seshoka, says the unification is a major achievement.
“It maximises the opportunities for impact of world leading research on the twin epidemics of HIV and TB,” Seshoka adds.
HHMI President, Robert Tjian, believes the new research centre is well positioned to make the critical scientific advances needed to improve our understanding of and advance treatment for these two deadly infectious diseases.
“The unification of these institutes makes possible a spectrum of research previously unimagined by either the Africa Centre or K-RITH separately,” says Tjian.
– CAJ News
Short URL: http://cajnewsafrica.com/?p=14218