The Institute has a solid research base in human health sciences and is entering a phase of rapid growth as it responds to the heavy national and regional burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases. Under leadership of Professor Michael Pepper the Institute is growing faster than anticipated. The ICMM is currently the leading house on stem cell research and therapy in the country and was recognized as such by the recent award of a highly prestigious MRC University Flagship grant, which clusters pockets of the work and provides funding for the next five years. This year has also seen him submitting an application to the MRC to establish the Institute as an MRC Extramural Unit on Stem Cell Research and Therapy.
Several cross-cutting disciplines have been defined in an effort to focus the Institute’s activities, including genetics/genomics, cell-based therapy, the neurosciences, bio-entrepreneurship and the regulatory (legislative) environment. The Institute is primarily a research facility in which the emphasis is on trans-disciplinary and cross-cutting technologies. Several departments/divisions in the Faculty of Health Sciences are involved in projects within the Institute, as are most of the faculties across the University: Economic and Management Sciences, Engineering, Humanities, Law, Natural and Agricultural Sciences, Theology and Veterinary Sciences. The Institute also works closely with the private sector to further its goal of delivering marketable health care solutions.
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Institute for Sport, Exercise Medicine and Lifestyle Research (SEMLR)
The vision of the Institute for Sport, Exercise Medicine and Lifestyle Research is to be an international leader in scientific research to promote sporting excellence, reduce exercise-related injuries and medical complications, and to promote health and well-being in the population through lifestyle interventions on a platform characterised by world class education, service delivery and the use of modern technology. The vision of the Institute is to conduct high impact, world class, translational research in the following specific focus areas —
- Prevention, management and rehabilitation of patients with Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) of lifestyle through patient-centred, comprehensive, lifestyle interventions that include promotion of physical activity and participation in recreational sport.
- Prevention, non-surgical management and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal and other injuries in sports, including all physically active individuals participating in recreational sports.
- Prevention and management of medical complications and illness in sports, including all physically active individuals participating in recreational sports.
- Enhancing excellence in sports performance.
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The Institute for Sports Research (ISR) was established in 1979 and is based at the University of Pretoria’s LC de Villiers Sports Campus in South Street, Hatfield. The Institute proudly offers a wide variety of professional services to the University's staff and students, as well as to a variety of sporting fraternities and the general public. The ISR is staffed with highly qualified professionals who specialise in biokinetics, sports science and research. Additionally, the ISR provides the practical training of the University's undergraduate and postgraduate students studying either biokinetics or sports science.
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The Centre was established to initiate collaboration between faculty members and private company enterprises, like the South African National Blood Service (SANBS), to use morphology to answer critical medical research questions. This has been particularly successful, and the focus of the Centre now emphasize the role of platelets, blood cells and coagulation in inflammatory diseases. Since 2010 the collaboration has expanded to include world-renowned research centers where active and ongoing collaboration now study the role of iron in inflammation as well as the possible clinical effects of chelators.
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The vision for the Centre for Ethics and Philosophy of Health Sciences is to develop academic capacity and produce scholarly output that builds on international developments in the field and responds to professional regulatory requirements, niche opportunities and needs for ethics and conceptual sophistication that are pertinent to the professional practice and theoretical engagements of all health sciences. To this end the Centre will provide a synergistic research platform for its associates and students.
The detection and integration of diverse exogenous environmental inputs (eg light, temperature, stress, visuals, nutrients, toxins, odorants, pheromones and pathogens) and endogenous signals (eg hormones, growth factors, inflammatory and stress mediators, neurotransmitters, metabolites, ions, water and electrolytes and lipids) in the vertebrate brain is crucial for homeostasis and survival. The hypothalamic region at the base of the brain integrates these diverse inputs via the secretion of neuropeptides which are released into a portal system to target the anterior pituitary which regulates reproduction, adrenal function, thyroid function, appetite, metabolism and growth. Hypothalamic neuropeptides are also secreted into the general circulation to target end organs such as the kidney (water and electrolyte regulation), uterus (parturition) and breast (lactation). The field Neuroendocrinology has therefore yielded important insights into normal and deranged homeostasis in vertebrates and produced a range of billion dollar therapeutics which are widely used in man, companion animals and livestock. Indeed it is fair to say that there are no area of biomedical physiology and pathophysiology that are not impacted by Neuroendocrinology, and some of these, such as obesity, metabolic syndrome and diabetes, are now global pandemics with vast implications for ill health. Despite its impact Neuroendocrinology is insufficiently researched in Africa and the Centre for Endocrinology – spanning the full specrum of atomic level structural and melocular biology, cell biology and physiology – proposes to fill this gap through drug development to clinical research.
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Centre for Viral Zoonoses
UP CVZ will achieve this by investigating endemic and emerging zoonotic viral diseases of public health significance in humans, animals and the environment. The Centre will encourage collaborative research involving partners from multiple disciplines within the University of Pretoria but also including regional, national and international collaborators. UP CVZ will join forces of established research groups in arbovirology, bat and other small mammal viral zoonotic diseases, rabies and rabies related lyssaviruses, viral pathology, medical entomology and ecology. The Centre will strive to generate new knowledge through surveillance, building diagnostic capacity through innovation, epidemiology, pathology, pathogenesis and ecology of zoonotic pathogens in humans and animals and identify intervention strategies for effective disease control.
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The Forensic Anthropology Research Centre is involved in research, including contract research, that is either wholly defined academically or in consultation with a commissioning client. The Centre aims to establish a centralised resource base with a single, well-defined identity, for all aspects regarding human remains, whether it be forensic, heritage related or humanitarian in nature or origin (and as is often the case, overlapping these distinctions) in South Africa foremost, but also for the region, continent and globally. The main thrust of the Centre will, however, be forensic and pertaining to matters of violent crime and missing persons.
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The UP Institute for Sustainable Malaria Control (UP ISMC) is pioneering trans-disciplinary research on innovative, safer and sustainable malaria control methods. Research is done in three clusters, each focusing on a specific aspect of malaria with cross-cutting themes within and between the clusters. Researchers in the Parasite Control cluster studies the biology of the malaria parasite and the discovery of biochemical mechanisms that can be used to block transmission. Safer physical methods of mosquito control and integrated vector management is the focus in the Vector Control cluster, with biting behaviour studies enabling researchers to determine where best to target mosquitoes. The Human Health cluster focuses on studies pertaining to human and environmental health, especially the potential health effects associated with currently used insecticides for malaria vector control, but also the education of communities in malaria endemic areas. Remote sensing through the use of satellites and modelling to study climate effects and human cross-border movement on malaria, amongst other factors, is a new venture within the Centre.
The UP ISMC is a SA MRC Collaborating Centre for malaria research.
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The Environmental Chemical Pollution and Health (ECPH) Research Unit was established through a collaborative partnership between the Faculty of Health Sciences' School of Health Systems and Public Health (SHSPH) and Andrology in the Department of Urology. The Unit uses the EDC and Toxicology laboratories. The Andrology laboratory functions as a clinical and research laboratory that investigates male reproductive health. The EDC component offers a comprehensive battery of bio-assays for estrogenic and androgenic activity in environmental samples and specific chemicals. The Toxicology section is primarily a research laboratory to assess reproductive health in humans and wildlife. The Unit conducts research on the occurrence, health effects and projected future impacts of chemicals, especially EDCs, on environmental pollution and health.
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Community Oriented Primary Care (COPC) is an internationally recognised, integrated approach to primary health care that brings health and other professionals, organisations and people together in defined geographical areas to identify and respond systematically to health needs. COPC originated in South Africa about seven decades ago, was adopted as the model of primary health care delivery and is currently practiced in many parts of the world.
The UP COPC Research Unit was conceptualised as a research environment to explore and innovate the practices and processes of doing ICT enabled COPC in the re-engineering of primary health care in site specific localities. It is a complex, layered and multi-partner health research-learning-service engagement that mobilizes skills and expertise across all sectors around a common vision of doing primary care using the best available knowledge and practice.
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This Unit was established in September 1997 and strives to increase the quality of life of South African mothers and their babies.
Its mission is to develop health strategies at primary and secondary care levels for mothers and infants by researching solutions to specific problems which are generally acceptable to the women, health care workers and health administrators involved.
Each research programme runs through four phases:
- identifying the respective problem by developing audit systems;
- developing a solution either by performing systematic reviews of the literature (within the Cochrane Collaboration) or by clinical research;
- implementing the proposed solutions; and
- testing the effect by using the audit systems already in place.
The Unit uses the ICA Solution audit system as a basis for identifying the problems. The Perinatal Problem Identification Programme (PPIP) - a computer-based perinatal care audit system - was the original system that was developed using the ICA Solution audit system, and the methodology has since been expanded over the years to include audits on severe maternal morbidity, maternal mortality and infant mortality.
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According to the World Economic Forum’s 2013-2014 Global Competitiveness Index (GCI), South Africa is ranked 53rd out of 148 countries, one of the major reasons being the high burden of disease which includes communicable (infectious) and non-communicable (including diseases of lifestyle and cancer). The MRC Stem Cell Research Unit will provide a multidisciplinary approach aimed at contributing to the alleviation of communicable and non-communicable diseases in South Africa.
Their main focus is on adult stem cells, namely hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). A mojor component of their work will continue to address the ethical, legal and social implications /consequences of the work being done on stem cells.
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Rand Water Chair in Public Health and Water
The Rand Water Chair in Public Health will develop a more coordinated approach to and expand water-related training and research within the Faculty of Health Sciences to address the research needs identified by Rand Water, i.e. drinking water human health risk assessment and epidemiology.
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Regulations for the establishment and operation of institutes, centres and units
The objective of the regulations is to provide a consistent and coherent framework to allow for growth, expansion and consolidation of current and past research activity within identified strategic research foci at the University.
The regulations are based on the following principles:
- Separation between basic research, services, social responsibility activities and activities which have primarily a commercial focus.
- None of the entities whose formation is defined in this document should have the primary responsibility for offering degree programmes. Degree programmes should be offered by departments or schools, with the participation of the members of these entities.
- That full or part-time members of the entities would normally be appointed within academic departments.
- That research entities are evaluated at regular, pre-determined intervals to be determined by the Vice-Principal (Research) and/or in consultation with the Senate Research Committee
- That entities already established prior to these regulations being approved are to be re-evaluated with a view to making their position congruent within the broader framework provided by this document.
- The Research Office will be responsible for the maintenance of an institutional database of all active research entities and their status as determined by the Vice-Principal (Research) and/or the Senate Research Committee (SRC).
Click here to download the document Regulations for the Establishment of Institutes, Centres, Units [S 3563/05]
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