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Animal and Zoonotic Diseases (AZD) Institutional Research Theme

The Institutional Research Theme (IRT) “Animal and Zoonotic Diseases” (AZD) was established at the University of Pretoria to build and expand on our current strength and research capacity in animal diseases in order to establish this focus area as an internationally highly regarded  centre of excellence based on its standing and leading role in South Africa and the African continent.  The focus on animal diseases includes diseases that spread from animals to humans (zoonoses) and involves research carried out in the Faculties of Veterinary Science, Natural and Agricultural Sciences and Health Sciences. 

As the only University in South Africa with a Faculty of Veterinary Science, the University of Pretoria is uniquely placed to provide research capacity across the whole of the animal disease research chain from disease identification to diagnostics and the development of new tools for disease prevention and epidemiological control. This capacity is strengthened and supported by a strong focus on basic research, vaccine development and diagnostic other tools required for epidemiological control and surveillance.  It is further supported by specialized expertise and infrastructure spread across three faculties with the Faculty of Health Sciences housing the only Biosafety Level 3 laboratory at the university that can investigate some of the most dangerous zoonotic diseases.

The AZD-IRT  involves principal investigators that direct more than 15 different research programmes with a focus on a range of animal and zoonotic diseases such as rabies, African horse sickness, Theileria and a range of bacterial as well as tick-transmitted diseases. The research covers aspects related to epidemiology, pathogen characterization, diagnostics, ecology and the development of recombinant vaccines and therapeutic agents. The AZD-IRT is currently directed by Prof Henk Huismans and the AZD-IRT provides bridging financial support for new research projects, post graduate bursaries and post doctoral fellows. It also supports infrastructure development and bridging financial  supports for the appointment of research fellows and other appointments within its research domain. 


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