Victor Daitz Chair lands R153-million grant for cutting-edge TB and HIV research

Professor Thumbi Ndungú, Victor Daitz Chair for Tuberculosis and HIV at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and Investigator at the KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for TB and HIV (K-RITH) has been awarded a R153-million grant ($11.2-million) to fund a ground-breaking, collaborative TB and HIV scientific research programme.  The announcement of the grant was made at an inception meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, on September 10, 2015. 

The grant will be used to set up a network of universities and research institutes, called the Sub-Saharan African Network for TB/HIV Research Excellence (SANTHE). The network’s vision is to conduct pioneering research that will improve the health of the population, and develop capacity within the continent through training African researchers and scientists. SANTHE will link 12 partner institutions and four main research sites in South Africa, Botswana, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia and aims to expand over time. 

“By working together, we feel that we can really tackle HIV and TB on this continent and also make a lasting impact in the development of the next generation of African scientists,” said Professor Ndung’u.   ''Both HIV and TB are major public health problems in sub-Saharan Africa, so the goal of this grant is to help accelerate research that will lead to cure and to the development of the vaccine to against HIV but also against tuberculosis itself which is the major opportunistic infection that people with HIV get,'' he said.

Ndung’u was one of seven leading African researchers to be awarded funding from the trust’s DELTAS Africa programme, which aims to establish cutting-edge research and training programmes across the continent.

Professor Thumbi Ndung’u went on to say that “Only by working in affected communities can we truly find solutions to public health challenges. We are exceptionally well placed in sub-Saharan Africa to make a significant contribution because of our access to large numbers of patients and samples of those directly affected by both diseases. Our research is also necessary as we get to study the actual bugs and strains that are present in Africa and we can then apply the interventions and fine-tune them.”

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Publication Date: Sep 2015