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Wits selected as SAMRC Cancer Centre

- By Vivienne Rowland

Wits University is one of three tertiary institutions in the country selected by the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) to establish a new Clinical Cancer Research Centre.

This initiative, spearheaded by the SAMRC, will see an investment of more than R37 million over five years for cancer research at Wits, the University of Cape Town (UCT) and the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN).

Coming shortly after commemorating World Cancer Day on 4 February, the centres are the SAMRC’s response to tackling one of the country’s and the world’s leading causes of illness and death.

Professor Paul Ruff, Head of the Division of Medical Oncology at the University and the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital, will head the MRC/Wits Common Epithelial Cancer Research Centre, which will be an exciting collaboration between the Medical Oncology and Surgery Departments at Wits, as well as at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital, the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital and the Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre as well as the National Cancer Registry.

“This is a fantastic development for our research team and for the University of the Witwatersrand, and will foster collaboration between oncologists, surgeons, basic scientists and epidemiologists in order to find answers to three of the most common and problematic cancers in South Africa, being breast, colorectal and pancreatic cancer,” said Ruff.  

“The SAMRC is dedicated to exploring medical research in the hope of reducing the burden of non-communicable diseases such as cancer,” said Professor Glenda Gray, President of the MRC.

“We currently have an exceptional unit that focuses solely on non-communicable diseases but the rapid rise in the number of cancer-related deaths in South Africa in the last few years has urged us to further investigate the disease in a South African context,” she elaborated.

The cancer research centre at UCT will concentrate on gynaecological cancer research under Professor Lynn Denny, while UKZN will focus on gastrointestinal cancer research under Professor Thandinkosi Madiba.

Read the article on Health24 

* Read the article in the Sunday Times

* View the MRC's video on the announcement 

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