South Africa and US collaborate on medical research

16 April 2015

The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) and the American National Institutes of Health (NIH) are awarding 31 grants to American and South African scientists to support research targeting HIV/Aids, tuberculosis and HIV-related co- morbidities and cancers.

The NIH is a unit of the US’s Department of Health and Human Services.

Totalling $8-million in first-year funding, the awards are the first to be issued through the South Africa-US Program for Collaborative Biomedical Research. The programme, which was established in 2013 with funding from NIH and SAMRC, is designed to foster and/or expand basic, translational, behavioural and applied research to advance scientific discovery among American and South African researchers working collaboratively in the areas of HIV/Aids and TB.

The new awards will support research conducted at eight South African institutions and link scientists at these institutions with American researchers at more than 20 US-based research organisations, including the NIH.

“South Africa is a major partner in the fight to end both HIV/Aids and tuberculosis,” said Anthony S Fauci, the managing director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which is part of the NIH.

Scientific collaboration

“These new awards tap the scientific expertise of both of our countries in an effort to further key research in these disease areas. We are particularly gratified to work with the South African Medical Research Council given its history of visionary leadership and outstanding commitment to fostering biomedical research excellence and innovation.”

Among the newly funded research projects are those targeting HIV prevention, particularly among high-risk young women; identifying HIV-infected individuals and determining how best to link them to and retain them in medical care; developing strategies for optimising the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of HIV-associated cancers; and addressing scale-up of TB prevention and treatment strategies, particularly among TB-infected mothers and children.

Twelve of the awards will support two years of research; 19 awards will fund five- year collaborative projects. The list of initial 24 awards will be updated to include the seven remaining projects once they are awarded.

In addition to NIAID, other NIH institutes and centres participating in the South Africa-US Program for Collaborative Biomedical Research include the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Mental Health, the Fogarty International Center and the Office of AIDS Research.

It is anticipated that NIH and SAMRC will solicit additional applications for the programme in two years.

American partners

NIAID conducts and supports research — at NIH, throughout the US, and worldwide — to study the causes of infectious and immune-mediated diseases, and to develop better means of preventing, diagnosing and treating these illnesses.

NIH is the US’s primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases.

Source: National Institutes of Health