A response to the high burden of disease
South Africa is faced with a very high burden of disease and consequently, a low life expectancy. The Institute for Cellular and Molecular Medicine (ICMM) of the University of Pretoria is addressing several of the critical elements contributing to the disease burden by promoting collaborative research that is multidisciplinary, interdepartmental and interfaculty in nature. The institute comprises 20 research groups in seven of the nine faculties at the University. Strong links also exist between groups within the ICMM and national and international partners and collaborators. The two major focus areas of the Institute are stem cells and the human genome.
Stem cells are the building blocks of the body, and in recent years their potential to treat and cure a number of life-threatening diseases has been recognized. The ICMM has developed a world-class stem cell facility that is involved in the isolation, characterization and manipulation of stem cells for therapeutic purposes. The Institute is in the process of building a clean-room facility which will allow for the initiation of stem cell clinical trials for a number of key diseases. This will be a first for the country.
Work on the human genome is aligned with the priorities of the Southern African Human Genome Programme (SAHGP) which was launched early in 2011. Given the highly recognzed genetic diversity of our population, South Africa is very well positioned to make major contributions to understanding the origin and mechanisms of globally-important communicable (HIV, TB, malaria) and non-communicable (diabetes, heart disease, cancer) diseases. Prof Pepper, the head of the ICMM, together with other colleagues, nationally and internationally will spearhead several key projects which will link genomic information to strategies that will address the national burden of disease.
UP has built a state-of-the-art cellular and molecular laboratory for the ICMM in the Pathology Building on Prinshof Campus. In addition, several groups in the ICMM have recently been successful in obtaining highly competitive and prestigious funding awards, including the Medical Research Council’s South African Flagship Research Projects Award and the National Research Foundation’s Infrastructure Funding Instruments Award.
The ICMM makes a major contribution to the alleviation of the high disease burden in South Africa, and also adds to the global efforts to reduce morbidity and mortality and the impact that this has on all facets of our lives.
To see the work of the institute, visit http://www.up.ac.za/institute-for-cellular-and-molecular-medicine/
To find out how you can significantly raise the effectiveness of the Institute, please contact:
Prof Michael S. Pepper Tel: +27 (0)12 319 2179 (PA) Tel: +27 (0)12 319 2190 (Direct)
E-mail: [email protected]