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Tackling brain health through strategic global partnerships

- Wits University

Wits Faculty of Health Sciences and Barrow Neurological Institute, USA, MoU cements relationship to further research neurological conditions

Neurological conditions continue to be the leading contributor to the global burden of disease, with most of this burden found in low- and middle- income countries, such as South Africa.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) will enable bilateral clinical training exchange opportunities between senior registrars in the Department of Neurology at Wits and registrars and senior residents from Barrow.

The scope of the relationship may expand in future to include global neuroscience research training opportunities as well.

An emerging focus of the Faculty of Health Sciences is to better understand this burden through research and clinical practice and to deliver evidence-based care through quality training and service provision.

Associate Professor Lindelani Mnguni, Deputy Dean in the Faculty of Health Sciences, says: “We are excited about the opportunity to collaborate with Barrow Neurological Institute. This partnership strengthens neurological research and training by sharing knowledge and expertise, benefitting South Africa and the US. This collaboration will enhance clinical training and research and foster a deeper understanding of neurological conditions globally, paving the way for innovative solutions and improved patient care. We look forward to the continued growth and success of this partnership.”

Barrow is the world's largest neurological disease treatment and research institution and one of the leading neurological specialist care centres in the U.S.

Dr Brad Racette, Senior Vice-President and Chair of Neurology at Barrow, says: “This MOU represents an important milestone in the relationship between Barrow Neurological Institute and Wits University as we create a unique academic partnership that will serve as a platform to train a new generation of globally minded academic neurologists and foster innovative research opportunities.”

Racette has put significant efforts into developing the Barrow Neurological Institute as a centre for global neurology – including Africa and peri-urban and rural South Africa.

He has undertaken more than 15 years of research in South Africa, including researching the neurological effects of manganese exposure with Professor Gill Nelson at the Wits School of Public Health.

More recently, Racette has researched parkinsonism [brain conditions that cause slowed movements, stiffness and tremors] in the rural context with Dr Ryan Wagner from the MRC/Wits Rural Public Health and Health Transitions Research Unit (Agincourt).

Wagner says, “This enduring partnership represents a mutually beneficial relationship that recognises the value that each institution brings.”