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MRC/Wits Developmental Pathways for Health Research Unit (DPHRU)

The MRC/Wits Developmental Pathways for Health Research Unit (DPHRU) is situated in the Department of Paediatrics in the School of Clinical Medicine. Addressing the national priorities of increasing life expectancy, decreasing maternal and child mortality and strengthening health system effectiveness, DPHRU forms a unique research platform with substantial infrastructure and equipment, extensive longitudinal data from the Birth to Twenty cohort, and well-established links with the urban and rural South African communities. Specifically, DPHRU investigates genetic, physiological, psycho-social, and lifestyle determinants of growth and development, obesity and risk of cardiometabolic disease, and healthy ageing through innovative multi-disciplinary methodologies across the lifespan. 

DPHRU draws upon a conceptual framework that sees health in adult life as a product of a multi-generational process that can be affected adversely by shocks or deprivation, as well as enhanced by the existence of protective factors or appropriate interventions at critical periods. Insight into the converging complexity of environmental and social factors across the lifespan in South Africa is critical for understanding the pathways to the development of ill-health, effective advocacy, and development of successful interventions. DPHRU is well positioned to provide scientific and local formative and intervention research in the area of developmental origins of health which will complement existing research entities tackling metabolic disease, health, and wellbeing in South Africa.

DPHRU forms part of:

  • Wits Molecular Biosciences Research Thrust: Health for Africa
  • Wits Chronic Diseases of Lifestyle Research Thrust
  • MRC Cardiovascular and Metabolic Diseases National Collaborative Research Programme.