Strengthening clinical research capacity in South Africa

30 May 2015

The Director of the Clinical Centre at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Dr John Gallin, was in South Africa in May to co-host a workshop in Cape Town on Clinical Research with the South African Medical Research Council as part of ongoing efforts to strengthen local clinical research capacity. While in South Africa, Drs John and Elaine Gallin also visited Durban and met with representatives from CAPRISA and faculty from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN).

Dr Gallin presented an overview of the NIH Clinical Research Centre and training opportunities for South African clinicians to the DVC and Deans of the College of Health Sciences.

The NIH Clinical Research Training Program is a highly respected model which offers ‘the best and the brightest’ students the opportunity to spend a year at the NIH-campus for an intensive clinical or translational research project. The participants, known as Fellows, are paired with senior NIH physician-scientist mentors on projects that are similar to their interests. Dr Gallin explained that the Fellows had the opportunity to gain practical experience in laboratories, clinics and wards with leading NIH researchers. Emphasis is placed on translational research, i.e., the evolution of basic research into patient therapies.

Dr Elaine Gallin, now a special advisor to QE Philanthropies, was the first Program Director for Medical Research at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. During her tenure she made a visionary investment in establishing the Doris Duke Medical Research Institute at the Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine. “The subsequent expansion of research infrastructure by the NIH and the HHMI and the impact it has made on knowledge generation and capacity building of a new generation of clinical researchers is testament to Elaine Gallin’s profound vision 15 years ago.” said Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim CAPRISA’s Associate Scientific Director.

They also visited the Vice-Chancellor of UKZN, Dr Albert van Jaarsveld who shared his vision of using science and technology for social transformation.