As a first step towards the development of a Sports, Exercise, Medicine and Lifestyle Research Institute at the University of Pretoria (UP), the Faculty of Health Sciences has appointed Prof Martin Schwellnus as head of the new Institute. This development is one of four strategic objectives that the University will be pursuing over the next five to ten years.
UP already houses one of the most productive and successful postgraduate training programmes in Sports and Exercise Medicine in South Africa offering postgraduate training in sports medicine, biokinetics, exercise science, physiotherapy, nutrition and sports psychology. The University is also home to the nationally acclaimed High Performance Centre (hpc) for elite athletes, which is situated on the LC de Villiers Sports Grounds in Hatfield, Pretoria. The hpc has consistently produced top South African athletes, some of whom have earned medals at the recent Commonwealth Games and also at the 2012 Olympic Games.
Prof Schwellnus is a renowned physician in the field of sports and exercise medicine and is credited with the establishment of the first postgraduate training programme in Sports Medicine in South Africa, which was established at the University of Cape Town in 1989. Over the past 25 years, Prof Schwellnus has had a very active career in clinical service, teaching and research, for which he received international recognition. He is a former president of the South African Sports Medicine Association (SASMA), a former vice-president of the International Sports Medicine Federation (FIMS), and has served in the international Olympic Committee (IOC) Medical and Science Group for 14 years. For the past six years, Prof Schwellnus also served as the director of one of only four IOC-accredited international research centres. He has published more than 100 peer-reviewed articles in accredited international scientific medical journals and has supervised numerous master’s and PhD students. He is a dedicated clinician who provides clinical care to athletes and patients with chronic lifestyle-related diseases through a comprehensive lifestyle intervention programme. An avid supporter of a healthy lifestyle (including regular exercise) for young and old, he is a recreational trail runner, mountain biker and golfer.
Prof Schwellnus will take up his position at UP early in 2015. He has indicated that some of his main objectives for the Institute will be to develop multidisciplinary research programmes, to provide excellent teaching opportunities for students, and to deliver a top-quality clinical service to both athletes and the general public.
‘With the full support of the leadership at the University of Pretoria, I am very excited to start working with a highly competent, enthusiastic and supportive multidisciplinary team of colleagues. We look forward to building this new Institute into an internationally recognised flagship facility,’ said Prof Schwellnus.