Faculty Research Units supported by the SA Medical Research Council (MRC)


Research Unit Basic Information

The UP Institute for Sustainable Malaria Control (ISMC), based at the University of Pretoria, coordinates and promotes research programmes (in partnership with other organisations) that focus on new approaches to safe and sustainable malaria control and management.

Key focus areas

  • Produce new knowledge on safe malaria control in Africa;
  • Align research goals with those of the National Department of Health (to eliminate malaria in South Africa by 2018 );
  • Work with regional, national and international partners on malaria management projects;
  • Support initiatives for malaria control in Africa;
  • Use sustainable and environmentally safe malaria control technologies;
  • Develop effective management strategies for malaria cases;
  • Promote health education in high-risk areas; and
  • Increase the amount of malaria researchers by supporting the development of the next generation.
  For more information, kindly visit the UP ISMC main webpage, or visit the MRC website

The Cancer Research Institute, based at the University of Pretoria, is focused on mapping the molecular drivers of cancers that South Africans are susceptible to, with key focus on:

  • Mapping the landscape of cervical and oesophageal cancer, to understand the underlying causes of these cancers and to discover targets for the development of novel and more effective targeted therapeutics.
  • The discoveries from this research will enable development of new precision prevention strategies through early interventions to reduce risk and associated high incidence of cervical and oesophageal cancer in developing countries.
  • The project will pave the way for clinical trials using effective, targeted drugs to treat these diseases as well as the establishment of educational programmes and changes in health policies aimed at reducing incidence and mortality rate.
  •  This will be achieved through leveraging the information on discoveries from this Unit for the development of precision prevention and promoting avoidance of behaviours associated with high risk.
  • Discoveries from the Unit will also provide the knowledge necessary for understanding the efficacy of natural and synthetic compounds in the treatment of HIV-associated cancers and will provide opportunities for integrating modern with traditional medicine to combat these cancers.
  For more information, kindly visit the CRI webpage, or MRC website

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:

  1. identifying the respective problem by developing audit systems;
  2. developing a solution either by performing systematic reviews of the literature (within the Cochrane Collaboration) or by clinical research;
  3. implementing the proposed solutions; and
  4. 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.

  For more information, visit the official MFNCHCS webpage or the MRC Centre website

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.

  For further information, visit the UP SAMRC Extramural Stem Cell Unit website or alternatively visit the MRC webpage.


Published by Nicola Vernall

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