Scientists Discover New Genetic Markers that Identify which People with HIV are Likely to Progress Faster to AIDS-related Illnesses

Scientists Discover New Genetic Markers that Identify which People with HIV are Likely to Progress Faster to AIDS-related Illnesses
Dr Veron Ramsuran and Dr Vivek Naranbhai.

The study highlights the importance of early HIV testing and antiretroviral treatment

A study published in the prestigious journal Science sheds new light on how specific human genes can lead to the faster progression of AIDS-related illness in people living with HIV who are not on treatment. UKZN scientists led the international research team that discovered that a specific-type Human Leucocyte Antigen (HLA) gene complex helps HIV infected cells to escape the body’s first line of defense, an immune cell known as natural killer (NK) cells. 

The research team comprised scientists from the KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform (KRISP), the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) and the Human Pathogenesis Programme (HPP) – all based at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) - together with researchers from the US National Institutes of Health, the Ragon Institute as well as researchers from Harvard, Oxford, Vanderbilt, Northwestern and Stanford Universities, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, MIT, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, University of California, San Francisco Department of Health, and Microsoft.

The study of 9 763 people with HIV in South Africa and the USA showed that individuals with the specific HLA type progress from asymptomatic HIV infection to becoming ill with AIDS faster. In these individuals, their viral load (number of viruses in their blood) was higher and their CD4 immune cells were destroyed more rapidly before they started antiretroviral treatment. It is estimated that about 2 million of the approximately 7 million people living with HIV in South Africa have this specific HLA type. 

Most of the laboratory research for this study, led by Dr Veron Ramsuran, a scientist at KRISP in the College of Health Sciences, at UKZN and a Research Associate at CAPRISA, and Dr Vivek Naranbhai, a scientist who is currently at Harvard University and is affiliated with CAPRISA, was conducted in three laboratories: at the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research (FNLCR) of the National Institute of Health (NIH), the Ragon Institute of the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University in the USA and at the KRISP laboratories at Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine. 

This work is a culmination of five years of research, which included post-doctoral studies by Dr Ramsuran with Dr Mary Carrington at FNCLR. Besides studying HLA in almost 10 000 people, the team conducted additional laboratory experiments with cells in test-tubes, including those assessing HIV infectivity. These experiments confirmed that the specific HLA-A expression had a direct effect on NK cells and that blocking the interaction between HLA and NK cells with certain drugs reverses this effect. 

‘I was pleasantly surprised by the findings as I expected the opposite results since the HLA genes were thought to protect against viruses,’ said Ramsuran. ‘The human genome contains genes that help to guard the body against bacteria or viruses. We have now shown a potential detrimental effect of specific HLA types in people living with HIV who are not on treatment. Further, we now understand that this is due to the interaction between HLA-A expression and NK cells.’ 

‘This study demonstrates how by doing a locally responsive investigation as a team at the highest level can lead to new insights. This is the largest genetic study in HIV thus far. Moreover, these findings are exciting because drugs to target the HLA interaction with immune cells are being developed for cancer but may be repurposed for HIV treatment and cure strategies,’ said Dr Vivek Naranbhai. 

‘The HLA genes are highly variable across humans and the impact of this variation on how well a given individual infected with HIV can control the virus is very significant, but complex,’ said Dr Mary Carrington, Director of the Basic Science Program at FNLCR. ‘Our results show that expression levels of these genes contribute to the overall effect of HLA variation on HIV control through the innate, as well as the adaptive immune response. Now we must carefully consider how to use this information for the benefit of patients with HIV.’ 

‘These results open a new door to understanding why some people become sick with AIDS so soon after acquiring HIV infection,’ says Professor Salim S Abdool Karim, Director of CAPRISA and Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) at UKZN. ‘The study’s findings highlight the importance of regular HIV testing so that people with HIV can get to know their status and start antiretroviral treatment early, well before they become ill with AIDS.’ 

The publication can be accessed at: http://science.sciencemag.org/content/359/6371/86

Words: CAPRISA and KRISP


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UKZN Hosts Value-AG Modelling Tool Workshop

UKZN Hosts Value-AG Modelling Tool Workshop
Participants at the Value-AG workshop.

Academics and researchers from the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES) hosted a workshop on the VALUE-AG modelling tool with training provided by researchers from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the University of Adelaide in Australia.

Dr Marta Monjardino of CSIRO and Mr Brendan Brown of the University of Adelaide joined forces with researchers from SAEES, the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (KZNDARD), the uMgungundlovu Municipality (UMDM) and SouthSouthNorth in Cape Town.

The Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science (CAES), Professor Albert Modi, thanked all those in attendance and Dr Tafadzwa Mabhaudhi and others who planned the workshop as part of work on the uMngeni Resilience Project (URP). The UMDM-led project focuses on increasing resilience of vulnerable communities through interventions such as early warning systems, climate-smart agriculture and climate proofing settlements.

Groups were encouraged to discuss agricultural innovations and their implementation, with Brown pointing out that the application of these tools helped in understanding the adoption of agricultural innovations. Monjardino and Brown gave examples of successful system-wide practice changes in Australia, such as no-till agriculture, and covered challenges in evaluating agricultural innovations.

The Value-AG tool, still in development, combines two tools introduced during the workshop. The first is the Adoption and Diffusion Outcome Prediction Tool (ADOPT), involving influences on adoption of agricultural innovations by farmers. The tool is intended to predict the likely adoption and diffusion of specific innovations; inform research, development and extension, and make adoption and diffusion considerations more available, understandable and applicable.

The second tool introduced was the CSIRO-developed Integrated Analysis Tool (IAT), a whole-farm bio-economic model developed to explore biophysical and economic impacts of innovations in smallholder farming systems. The model comprises three components, including an economic model, a livestock model (for ruminants) and the APSIM model (or another preferred model) for crop and forage.

Mr Richard Kunz of SAEES thanked Monjardino and Brown for their inputs, while Monjardino thanked participants for their attendance and enthusiasm, saying the process was a two-way one which had inspired her and Brown.

Modi thanked the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) for their funding of the URP and its commitment to training postgraduate students through the project as well as the opportunity the project provides for academics to give back.

Words and photograph by: Christine Cuénod


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Computer Science Lecturer at International Cybersecurity Conference in the USA

Computer Science Lecturer at International Cybersecurity Conference in the USA
Mrs Rosanne Els (front row, second from right) with URISC attendees in Denver, Colorado.

A Lecturer in the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science (SMSCS), Mrs Rosanne Els, attended a week-long workshop in Colorado in the United States on the topic of Understanding Risk in Shared CyberEcosystems (URISC).

In addition to receiving training on cybersecurity, Els attended the international SuperComputing (SC17) conference - a flagship high-performance computing (HPC) industry conference and technology showcase which attracted more than 10 000 participants.

Els was among URISC applicants awarded travel grants via a competitive application process through STEM-Trek Nonprofit, which supports travel and professional development for HPC-curious scholars from under-represented groups and regions.

Beneficiaries of STEM-Trek programmes are encouraged to ‘pay it forward’ by promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics in their home communities.

Applicants included cybersecurity professionals, HPC systems administrators, educators and network engineers who support research computing at the US and sub-Saharan African colleges and universities.

Workshop delegates represented 11 countries and 12 US states.

Highlights of the workshop included a URISC introduction to open-source materials developed by the Center for Trustworthy Scientific Cyberinfrastructure (CTSC) at Indiana University.

STEM-Trek Director Ms Elizabeth Leake presented a session on coaching in the art of external relations, specifically on how to foster administrative and legislative buy-in for a greater cybersecurity investment on university campuses.

Specialists from Internet2InCommon, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of Illinois’ CTSC and the South African Centre for High Performance Computing, and Indiana University’s CTSC, presented on various cybersecurity topics.

Els teaches Computer Science and programming modules in SMSCS and has interests in game playing as a learning aid, the use of Lego Mindstorms to aid problem-solving skills, data mining, internet technologies, and e-commerce for small enterprises and high-performance computing. Els, who has been at UKZN since 1994 pursuing innovative teaching, is keen to see an improvement in the gender imbalance in Computer Science.

Words: Christine Cuénod

Photograph supplied by Elizabeth Leake


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HEARD Students Present Research to International Audience in Sweden

HEARD Students Present Research to International Audience in Sweden
HEARD PhD students who attended workshops and seminars at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.

Four doctoral students at UKZN’s Health Economics HIV and AIDS Research Division (HEARD) took part in an intensive programme of workshops and seminars on qualitative research methods at the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg (UG) in Sweden.

The trip was made possible through a bilateral National Research Foundation-STINT capacity-building research grant involving HEARD, UKZN and the University of Gothenburg.

The collaboration supports programmatic research and development activities, including student and staff exchanges, aimed at the implementation of joint research projects focused on health systems and HIV research in eastern and southern Africa.

HEARD’s PhD programme has recently expanded and is now one of the largest in the region. As part of the institution’s commitment to promoting excellence in scholarship on the African continent, HEARD’s doctoral programme aims to train and support 60 candidates over the next four years.

HEARD’s 2018 cohort of PhD students hail from across sub-Saharan Africa, including countries such as Ethiopia, the Gambia, Ghana, Malawi, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

Research Director at HEARD Dr Kaymarlin Govender explains: ‘This partnership (with the University of Gothenburg) has been invaluable to HEARD’s interdisciplinary PhD programme by bringing collaborators from both countries to work in common areas of interest.’

Strategic connections were forged and HEARD’s students had the opportunity to present their research topics to an international body of academics.

It is clear that the efforts of HEARD and its partners have not gone unnoticed by its students. Remarking on the academic significance of the trip, PhD student, Mr Paul Mbanga said: ‘This was truly sweet music to my scholarly thirst and hunger pangs.’ Commenting on the importance of the trip in providing support for her PhD thesis, Ms Lillian Akoth Oogo said ‘the trip could not have come at a better time’.

The visit not only provided an opportunity for the exchange of information, but was also valuable in creating a cultural experience as students were treated to local cuisine and enjoyed sightseeing at maritime monuments including the Poseidon statue and the Sjoemanstornet.

Students also visited a Christmas and medieval market and enjoyed an ice ballet.

 For Zimbabwean student, Ms Limkile Mpofu, the feeling of togetherness with her HEARD classmates provided great joy. ‘It was a get together for the students from Africa. It was such an amazing moment to see Africans coming together,’ said Mpofu.

As HEARD continues to bring together and invest in African scholarship with the aim of advancing health equity in the continent, future PhD candidates can look forward to the best in African education and development.

Words: Thomais Armaos


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Thirteen Presentations Featured at Durban Research Action Partnership Symposium

Thirteen Presentations Featured at Durban Research Action Partnership Symposium
Participants at the research symposium.

An attitude of curiosity and perseverance in science was advocated by UKZN’s Professor Colleen Downs during her opening presentation at the annual research symposium of the Durban Research Action Partnership (D’RAP).

D’RAP is a joint initiative between the University of KwaZulu-Natal and the eThekwini Municipality’s Environmental Planning and Climate Protection Department.

More than 40 students, municipal officials, scientists and University staff attended the Symposium, which featured 13 presentations from students on research they undertook on D’RAP projects.

Downs, one of the academic supervisors involved in D’RAP, spoke about how the partnership was a special one as it featured the Municipality and University working together. She encouraged participants to nurture an attitude of curiosity and perseverance in science. 

Downs emphasised the importance of having data for the management of the effects of the Anthropocene (the current geological age) in which forest loss, extinction and decline are affecting ecosystems and ecosystem services. D’RAP’s work across a gradient from urban to protected areas generates such data, and according to Downs, is making an impact and putting South Africa on the map.

‘Africa needs to be heard,’ she said, ‘and a lot of the work being done would not be possible without citizen science. A lot of the work you are doing in the eThekwini Municipality involves the people who live here.

‘Today highlights the interdisciplinary work we’re doing, which is particularly important in this “post-truth” kind of age,’ said Downs, who encouraged postgraduate students to continue contributing to increased knowledge about biodiversity and ecosystems.

Manager of the Climate Protection Branch in the EPCPD Dr Sean O’Donoghue and Manager of eThekwini Municipality’s Restoration Ecology Branch Mr Errol Douwes gave an overview of D’RAP research outputs and outcomes since 2011 in the form of lessons learned by UKZN researchers and the Municipality.

Douwes emphasised the importance of science in areas of driving local action and sustainable development, and of having a matrix of open spaces, and focusing on protection and management, restoration and spatial planning.

‘Developing knowledge that’s going to help us be aware of the right thing to do in terms of this novel situation of climate change where we’re facing unprecedented types of weather and vulnerabilities is where the importance of the research comes in,’ said O’Donoghue.

‘We have to know what we need to get our communities to do and how much our ecosystems can absorb the impacts of climate change before we reach tipping points.’

Topics focused on urban ecology and on plant and animal species living in urban and peri-urban areas falling under the eThekwini Municipality.

Species under study included vervet monkeys, crowned eagles, ants, forest birds and mammals as well as invasive and indigenous plant species. Presenters also spoke about remote sensing of foliar nitrogen, the effect of eco-estates on animal biodiversity in KwaZulu-Natal, the effects of habitat size and fragmentation on birds and mammals, and the proper use of terminology in forest management.

Words and photograph: Christine Cuénod


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Umfundi Weziqu ze-PhD Uthole Umklomelo Wegolide Ngokwethula Inkulumo Evelele Engqungqutheleni Ephambili

Umfundi Weziqu ze-PhD Uthole Umklomelo Wegolide Ngokwethula Inkulumo Evelele Engqungqutheleni Ephambili
UMnu Kershen Naicker wase-UKZN nendebe yakhe i-Clariant ayiklomelile.

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Umfundi weziqu ze-PhD eSikoleni seKhemistri neFiziksi (SCP) uMnu Kershen Naicker uklonyeliswe yi-Catalysis Society of South Africa (CATSA) ngendondo yegolide i-Clariant yangonyaka wezi-2017 ngokwethula kanye nendebe yenkulumo yomfundi evelele engqungqutheleni ebise-Pilanesberg.

Le ndondo inikwa ovelele ngokwezingabunjalo lenkulumo nezinga lobuchwepheshe bomsebenzi, kubhekwa nobunzulu bocwaningo, ukubukeka kwenkulumo nolwazi lwezesayensi olutholakalayo.

U-Naicker wethule inkulumo esihloko sithi-: The Unsteady-State Oxidative Dehydrogenation of n-octane Using Metal Oxide-Based Catalysts. Lo msebenzi uthinta ukuguqulwa kopharafini babe yimikhiqizo elusizo njengoba kukhiqizwa amathani ayisigidi ngonyaka emhlabeni jikelele, ukukhiqizwa kwale mikhiqizo kungaba nomthelela omkhulu kwezezimboni.

‘Kube yintokozo enkulu ukuhlomula ngale ndondo ephambili,’ kusho u- Naicker.

‘Le ndondo ihlonipha izingabunjalo laocwaningo kanye nomthelela we-Catalysis Research Group (CRG), i-SCP ne-UKZNemphakathini wesayensi,’ usho kanje.

I-PhD ka-Naicker alulekwa kuyo uSolwazi Holger Friedrich, Dkt Sooboo Singh no Dkt Sam Mahomed, ithinta ukuphenya indlela yokusebenzisa ama-bulk metal oxides ihlanganiswe nendlela engazinzile yokuqonda ngokulumbana kwe - lattice oxygen phezu kwe- n-octane.

Unethemba lokuthi ucwaningo lwakhe luzoba yisisekelosama-catalytic designs ngomuso uma kuthuthukiswa ukuqonda kangcono ngokulumbana komoyampilo i-lattice nezinhlobonhlobo zama-metal oxide uma kwenziwa ama-linear parafins.

U-Naicker uphothule iziqu zakhe ze-BSc emkhakheni we-Chemistry e-UKZN ngaphambi kokubhalisela iziqu kwezeKhemistri e-Durban University of Technology (DUT). Ucwaningo olwenziwa u-Friedrich kanye nethimba le-CRG lwaholela u-Naicker ekutheni abuyele e-UKZN ezokwenza iziqu zeMastazi nezobuDokotela.

Emva kokuphothula iziqu zakhe ze-PhD, u-Naicker unethemba lokuthi uzoqhubeka kwezokufunda adlulisele ulwazi lwakhe kwabanye. Uphinde watusa kakhulu othisha base-SCP e-UKZN ngokugqugquzela abafundi babo ukuze basebenze ngokuzikhandla.

U-Naicker, ubonge abazali bakhe nonkosikazi wakhe ngokunakekela nokumeseka kwabo ezifundweni zakhe zonke, waphinde wabonga nabaluleki bakhe, abangani nozakwabo ngokwelekelela kwabo emsebenzini wakhe, waphinde wabonga iKolishi YezoLimo,YezobuNjiniyela NezeSayensi (CAES) Sasol kanye nohlelo i-Technology and Human Resources for Industry Programme (THRIP) eMnyangweni WezoHwebo NezeziMboni ngokuxhasa izifundo zakhe.

Amagama: ngu-Christine Cuénod (cuenod@ukzn.ac.za)

Isithombe sitholakale ku-Kershen Naicker (206505483@stu.ukzn.ac.za)


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Professor Pardon Muchaonyerwa Named Among 13 Soil Scientists to Watch Globally

Professor Pardon Muchaonyerwa Named Among 13 Soil Scientists to Watch Globally
Professor Pardon Muchaonyerwa.

UKZN’s Professor Pardon Muchaonyerwa has been named by Food Tank - in honour of World Soil Day - as one of 13 Soil Scientists to watch globally.

Muchaonyerwa, who has researched soil ecosystem function and health, and sustainable agriculture across several African countries for the past 15 years, is currently a member of the Soil Science Society of South Africa (SSSSA) and the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS).

Muchaonyerwa said he was honoured by the wider recognition, which also emphasises the importance of Soil Science as a discipline that underpins various other fields that improve humanity’s wellbeing.

‘The contribution of soil science to food, fibre and timber production and in environmental aspects such as climate change and attenuation of pollutants, is undervalued,’ said Muchaonyerwa.

He highlighted that the rate of soil degradation was more rapid than its formation, necessitating well-trained experts to address resulting global challenges. He says soil scientists trained in South Africa should be of a high calibre to contribute to tackling challenges unique to South African soils.

‘Major issues facing our soils globally include degradation (physical, chemical and biological) and desertification, with the impacts worsened by the effects of climate change,’ said Muchaonyerwa.

He emphasised that phenomena such as soil erosion, compaction, crusting and hard-setting were serious environmental challenges that reduced the productivity of land and water bodies.

‘Like other tropical and subtropical countries, soils of South Africa are either too acidic, with low nutrients, or too salt affected,’ said Muchaonyerwa. ‘Wastes from anthropogenic activities, including mining and other industrial activities, reduce the quality of some of the best potential soils.

‘Effective management of soil resources requires a clear understanding of these resources and how they interact with other biophysical and socio-economic factors, as well as collaboration between researchers from across disciplines working with resource users.’

Muchaonyerwa conducts research into soil productivity and organic waste management for food and fibre production and environmental sustainability. His current research projects include carbon stocks and productivity of humic soils in South Africa; nutrient recovery from agricultural wastewater using duckweed and the fertiliser value of the macrophyte biomass; phosphorus and potassium management in agriculture; gully rehabilitation for sediment retention and carbon storage, and organic wastes and biochar for soil productivity improvement.

Muchaonyerwa joined Soil Science in the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES) at UKZN in 2011 after seven years at the University of Fort Hare, before which he worked at his alma mater, the University of Zimbabwe.

Words and photograph: Christine Cuénod


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UKZN Academic Addresses International Tropical Agriculture Conference in Australia

UKZN Academic Addresses International Tropical Agriculture Conference in Australia
Professor Hussein Shimelis (second from left) at a book launch in Brisbane.

The South African Sugarcane Research Institute (SASRI) Chair of Crop Science at UKZN, Professor Hussein Shimelis, presented a paper at the biennial International Tropical Agriculture Conference (TropAg2017) in Brisbane, Australia.

The event, which attracted 720 delegates, was aimed at enhancing international experience among leading scientific experts and facilitating collaboration, development of new projects and technology transfer. Various research papers were presented on advances in agricultural industries in the subtropics and tropics, including work on grain and pulse crops, sugarcane and horticultural crops, and livestock. Oral and poster papers were presented covering a diverse range of topics.

Shimelis presented a poster titled: Ethylmethanesulfonate Mutagenesis of Vernonia (Centrapalus pauciflorus var. ethiopica) to Enhance Seed Oil Content and Fatty Acid Composition, which was delivered under the theme of Future Field Crops.

The aim of his study - conducted in collaboration with the University of the Free State with financial support from the National Research Foundation - was to induce genetic variation and alter seed oil content and fatty acid composition in a novel industrial crop, vernonia, through ethylmethylsulfonate (EMS) mutagenesis.

Results of the study suggest that the effect of EMS mutagenesis on fatty acid composition in vernonia could be genotype-specific, and is influenced by the EMS dose.

‘There is potential to increase solely vernolic acid, while at the same time reducing the other fatty acids during vernonia improvement,’ said Shimelis.

While at the conference, he attended the launch of a book he co-authored titled The Business of Plant Breeding: Market-led Approaches to New Variety Design in Africa (edited by Dr Gabrielle J. Persley and Dr Vivienne M. Anthony). Shimelis contributed Chapter 4 of the book, headed: New Variety Design and Product Profiling.

‘The education module is based on current concepts and best-practices in demand-led breeding,’ said Shimelis.

The book was compiled by various experts and educators from public and private sectors across Africa and internationally, and is aimed at postgraduate educators and scholars in plant breeding, crop improvement and seed systems, and for continuing professional development of plant breeders.

Words: Christine Cuénod


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UKZN Delegates Deliver Impressive Presentations at SKA Conference

UKZN Delegates Deliver Impressive Presentations at SKA Conference
Members of UKZN’s Astrophysics and Cosmology Research Unit who participated in a Square Kilometre Array postgraduate conference in Cape Town.

Students, postdoctoral researchers and staff from UKZN’s Astrophysics and Cosmology Research Unit (ACRU) delivered well-received presentations at the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) postgraduate conference in Cape Town.

The SKA funds astronomy and engineering students and postdoctoral researchers who have a record of academic excellence and an interest in working on the project.

The conference - a platform for deserving students and postdoctoral researchers to display their research- was attended by a large number of professional South African and international astronomers.

UKZN’s delegation, the biggest university group in attendance, delivered excellent presentations which resulted in significant engagement with the audience. The event provided an opportunity for participants to share ideas and experiences involving the astronomy landscape and also led to discussions about future collaboration with local and international astronomers.

ACRU doctoral student Ms Sinenhlanhla Precious Sikhosana delivered an excellent poster presentation on: Diffuse Radio Emission in ACTPol Clusters, which is the subject of her research. Sikhosana said the highlight of the conference for her was the question and answer session. ‘It was less formal, more interactive and people raised views on how to make the conference better, while we, as students, received constructive criticism from senior academics.’

ACRU masters student Mr Kabelo Kesebonye presented a poster on his work titled: Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) Measurements at a Possible HIRAX Outrigger Site in Botswana. For Kesebonye the highlight of the conference was meeting other SKA postgraduate students and hearing about their projects. ‘I got to learn a lot about radio astronomy from just listening to people talk about their research,’ he said.

Kesebonye plans to read for a PhD in Astronomy so that he can further develop his instrumentation and research skills.

Said senior Astronomy lecturer at the ACRU Dr Matt Hilton: ‘The annual South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO) bursary holders’ conference provides a valuable opportunity for our postgraduate students and postdocs to gain experience in delivering presentations. The range of work being done in South African radio astronomy is very impressive, including the engineering and science projects with MeerKAT. I was encouraged by the overall level of the presentations delivered by students and postdocs. The plenary talks organised by SARAO were also excellent.’

Words: Strini Rajgopaul


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Umnyango Wase-UKZN WezoMumomziba Uhloniphe Abanikela Ngemizimba

Umnyango Wase-UKZN WezoMumomziba Uhloniphe Abanikela Ngemizimba
Kuhlonishwa abanikela ngemizimba: Imindeni yabanikela ngemizimba kanye nabasebenzi base-UKZN.

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Umcimbi waminyakayonke i-Inspectorate and Reverence Ceremony ubanjwe umkhakha wezoMumomzimba lapho bekuhlonishwa imizimba engama-28 eyanikelwa e-UKZN ukuze kwenziwe ucwaningo futhi kuqeqeshwe ngonyaka odlule.

Abaholi bezenkolo, abasebenzi bomnyango wezomumomzimba, abaphathi, kanye nemindeni yabanikelile bahlanganele eSikoleni Sezokwelapha i-Nelson R Mandela Medical School ethekwini kanye naseKhempasini i-Westville ukuze kuhlonishwe labo abanikele ngemizimba yabo ukuze isetshenziswe uma kuqeqeshwa noma kucwaninga abafundi bezokwelapha nabezempilo.

Umxhumanisi wohlelo lokunikela ngezidumbu e-UKZN uMnu Salem Kharwa ubonge abanikelayo ngegalelo labo ekuqinisekiseni ukuthi inhloso yokufunda nokufundisa ezindaweni lapho zihlinzelwa khona izidumbu kuyaqhubeka futhi nezinhlelo, imihlahlandlela nemibandela equkethwe emthethweni i-Human Tissue Act iyalandelwa.

‘Imizimba enikelwe ibaluleke kakhulu futhi iyahlonishwa ngoba iyinsiza ebalulekile kakhulu ekufundiseni nokuholela iSikole ukuba sikwazi ukukhombisa abafundi ukuthi kuhlinzwa kanjani,’ kusho uKharwa.

‘Imiphefumulo esiyihloniphayo namuhla inikele ngemizimba yayo ukuze kuzuze izwe. Abelaphi abasezingeni eliphezulu bawumphumela wesihe sayo futhi ngalokho sebeguqule izwe laba ngcono,’ kusho uMfundisi Alby Justino wase - Durban Christian Centre.

Umkhakha Wezomumomzimba unezifundo zamabanga aphansi kwezoMumomzimba ezifundwa abafundi kwezokwelapha kanye nonompilo jikelele izifundo zabaneziqu nazo ziyafundiswa kubafundi bezesayensi yezokwelapha.

Amalungu oMkhakha Wezomumomzimba azoba nomkhankaso wohlelo lwabanikela ngemizimba lapho ulwazi mayelana nokunikela ngomzimba luzosatshalaliswa.

Abantu abafuna ukwazi kabanzi ngohlelo lokunikela ngemizimba bangafonela uMnu Salem Kharwa ku-031-260 4585 noma ku-imeyili ethi kharwas1@ukzn.ac.za.

Amagama: nguLihlithemba Sosibo SosiboL1@ukzn.ac.za


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Tackling Infections to Benefit Africa

Tackling Infections to Benefit Africa
Tackling Infections to Benefit Africa - Virtual Community.

The UKZN Infectious Diseases Cluster School in the College of Health Sciences hosted a seminar on the Tackling Infections to Benefit Africa (TIBA) Initiative.

Acting Dean of Research in the College of Health Sciences Professor Moses Chimbari spoke on TIBA which is an Africa-led, wide-ranging, multi-disciplinary research programme that explores and draws lessons from the ways different African health systems tackle infectious diseases.

Chimbari, who holds a PhD in Schistosomiasis Control from the University of Copenhagen, is a Deputy Director at TIBA and a TIBASA project leader.

‘We are still on our first two-year cycle of TIBA and my key commission at this stage includes building a strong TIBA Team, establishing an African Chapter of the International Association for Ecology and Health (IAEH), rolling out CB courses, growing student numbers in this programme and recruiting more mentees,’ Chimbari told the seminar. ‘Most importantly, this programme will assist the UKZN College of Health Sciences in strengthening social cohesion, African health, and also in improving informatics and big data which are key components of our UKZN strategic direction.’

In the next four-year cycle of the programme, TIBA will shift the focus to bring IAEH to Africa and in so doing strengthen and localise the eco-health postgraduate situation, grow student numbers in the programme, produce a large number of South African graduates, and consolidate the programme and planning for the next five-year cycle.

TIBA will assist Africa by providing a better understanding of infectious disease transmission in different endemic areas, improving diagnostic tools and disease management programmes and strengthening health systems.

‘TIBA is an exciting initiative that provides a good prospect for impactful research collaborations. Our main TIBA question is: can Africans take a lead in finding solutions to the problems of Africa?,’ addressed Academic leader in the Discipline of Infectious Diseases in the School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences at UKZN, Professor Manormoney Pillay.

The TIBA initiative, which is supported by the African Academy of Sciences, the African Union and NEPAD, comprises UKZN, the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom; the Botswana Institute of Technology Research and Innovation at the University of Botswana; the Africa Centre of Excellence for Cell Biology and Infectious Pathogens at the University of Ghana; the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI); the University of Rwanda; the University of Khartoum in Sudan and the National Institute for Medical Research in Tanzania.

This African Health Initiative is aimed at harnessing the expertise and technical capabilities in biomedical and social sciences at the University of Edinburgh and among the African partners to reduce the burden and threat of infectious diseases in Africa by informing and influencing health policy and strengthening health systems through improving:

Words: Lihlithemba Sosibo


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Music Lecturer to perform at Jazz Centre

Music Lecturer to perform at Jazz Centre
UKZN Music Lecturer Sibusiso Mashiloane who will perform with his band at UKZN’s Centre for Jazz and Popular Music from 6pm on Wednesday, 7 February.

UKZN’s Centre for Jazz and Popular Music features Music lecturer Mr Sibusiso Mashiloane and his band in a performance titled ‘Rotha: A Tribute to Mama’ on Wednesday, 7 February.

Pianist and composer Mashiloane released his second album - Rotha: A Tribute to Mama - last year and has been performing music from it throughout South Africa and in Mozambique.

His band comprises lecturer Sazi Dlamini on guitar, jazz student Dalisu Ndlazi on bass and graduates Riley Giandhari on drums and Zoe ‘the Seed’ Masuku doing vocals.

The music on the Rotha album is a tribute to cherished and influential figures, experiences and memories in Mashiloane’s life but most importantly to his mother Rotha, who died in 2016 while he was in studio recording the album.

The acoustic traditional jazz album radiates South African heritage sounds and universal jazz influences.

Discussing Mashiloane’s recent Cape Town performance, Carol Martin of All Jazz Radio said: ‘The sounds were raw and danceable, persistent, then mellowing. Mashiloane’s leadership takes one on a journey of cadences with tones of African rhythm and blues Zulu-style and fused with swing-bop, hip-hop, gospel and funk. Often, a blues-rock unfolds, then Mashiloane’s piano sets the fast pace, and finally, crescendo!’

Mashiloane’s focus now is to teach and organise live music performances with his students focusing on South African composers and, in line with this development, he is currently busy with his PhD focusing on South African composers.

‘I have a long-term view of conscientising Africans about the value of their own works and aim to breed a new decolonised generation of musicians, music collectors and live music audiences who will pride themselves about their own African heritage,’ he said.

Entry to the performance at the Centre for Jazz and Popular Music (CJPM) on Level 2, Shepstone Building on UKZN’s Howard College campus, costs R80 which reduces to R50 for pensioners and R25 for students with a student card.

Doors open at 5.30pm and the show starts at 6pm. For more information contact Thulile Zama at Zamat1@ukzn.ac.za or 031-260 3385.

Words: Melissa Mungroo


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Anxiety a Risk Factor of Cardiovascular Disease, UKZN Seminar Hears

Anxiety a Risk Factor of Cardiovascular Disease, UKZN Seminar Hears
At the Psychiatry Department’s seminar are (from left) Professor Bonga Chiliza, Professor Christer Allgulander and Dr Lennart Eriksson.

Swedish Professor Christer Allgulander has suggested screening patients in a variety of medical areas - especially cardiology, endocrinology, dermatology, neurology and primary care - for symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Allgulander made the suggestion while addressing a seminar hosted by UKZN’s Department of Psychiatry in the College of Health Sciences and attended by specialists from a variety of psychiatric, clinical and therapeutic disciplines in the health sector in KwaZulu-Natal.

In his presentation titled: Anxiety as a Risk Factor of Cardiovascular Disease, Allgulander said depression was one of the psychiatric conditions increasing the risk of myocardial infarction, strokes and type 2 diabetes. A more recent discovery is that anxiety is also a risk factor and that it appears to drive other well-known risk factors such as obesity, smoking, sedentary lifestyle and substance use.

‘Anxiety may increase the wear and tear of the cardiovascular system via stress hormones and by impairing adherence to medications. Poor adherence must be addressed regarding maintenance therapies for both psychiatric and somatic conditions,’ he cautioned.

He recommended the use of PHQ2 - a patient health questionnaire and a self-administered tool for screening and diagnosing depression in patients - by psychiatric specialists. He said the questionnaire also assisted psychologists in selecting and monitoring treatment.

Allgulander encouraged psychiatry researchers to focus and widen their research on two interesting phenomena which, he says, have not been sufficiently explained - Takotsubo (broken heart syndrome), and White Coat Hypertension.

Allgulander is a senior lecturer in Psychiatry in the Department of Clinical Neuroscience at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden. He specialises in pharmacotherapy, epidemiology, genetics and the prognosis of generalised anxiety, panic anxiety, and social anxiety.

Allgulander is also an honorary professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health at the University of Cape Town, and an adjunct associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the Washington University School of Medicine in the United States.

He is on the advisory board of the Taiwanese Journal of Psychiatry as an honorary member of the American Psychopathological Association and is an honorary member of the South African Society of Psychiatrists. He is also a member of the Anxiety Disorders Research Network of the ECNP, and a member of the F1000 Faculty.

Words: Lihlithemba Sosibo


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College of Humanities Celebrates Staff Excellence

College of Humanities Celebrates Staff Excellence
Prize winners and guests at the College of Humanities staff excellence awards function.

The College of Humanities hosted its annual staff excellence awards event during which professional and academic staff were recognised for their hard work, dedication and positive impact.

Speaking at the gathering, acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Humanities, Professor Stephen Mutula, congratulated staff for their outstanding contribution and innovative output in 2017. ‘We recognise the hard work you put in and applaud your work ethic and commitment to the College.’

Acting Director of Professional Services Mr Dane Arumugam added: ‘I am proud of the College of Humanities team. They have performed exceptionally well.’

Professor Douglas Wassenaar received the Grant Award for his role as a Principal Investigator (PI) and Co-PI research and training grants worth about R200 million to date.

Most of these grants are interdisciplinary, building on longstanding national and international collaborations. His grants focus on health research training, health research ethics training, research on health, and social science research ethics questions.

‘The most humbling and rewarding part of these projects is working with and funding the development of talented young postgraduate and postdoctoral students. None of this would have been achieved without the close collaboration and support of many gifted and loyal colleagues. It takes a village,’ said Wassenaar.

Professor Maheshvari Naidu was recognised for being among UKZN’s Top 10 Most Published Women Researchers at UKZN and among the Top 30 Most Published Researchers.

‘One of the wonderful collateral spin-offs from the staff awards function was the immense spirit of collegiality at the event,’ said Naidu. ‘Over and above the various awards made to staff, it was great to see the level of academic and professional camaraderie among all the staff present.’

Mr Lucky Chili of the College Finance office received the Collegiality award and the REACHt award.

‘Winning the awards was among my greatest ever achievements - it was an honour to be recognised by the College,’ said Chili. ‘The awards have motivated me to continue to excel and I dedicate them to my team in Finance and all my colleagues in the College.

‘I also thank Mr Dane Arumugam for assisting me in my procurement space and trusting me with this critical portfolio,’ he said.

Staff members who had long service and others who were retiring were also recognised at the function.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Albert Hirasen


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Chinese Delegation Visits Law School

Chinese Delegation Visits Law School
School of Law’s Acting Dean and Head Professor Warren Freedman receiving a gift from China’s Deputy Minister of Justice Mr Zhao Dacheng.

Republic of China’s Deputy Minister of Justice Mr Zhao Dacheng accompanied by a delegation from his ministry visited UKZN’s School of Law to discuss legal education in South Africa and collaboration opportunities.

Discussions focused on the general situation of Higher Education in the field of Law in South Africa, job opportunities for Law graduates and ways to publicise legal knowledge to make the general public more aware in that sphere.

The benchmarking visit, initiated by South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development Mr John Jeffery, was part of a national tour during which the Chinese delegation met representatives from Legal Aid South Africa, the Law Society of South Africa and Westville Correctional Services.

‘We are very honoured to be here at UKZN because legal education is important to our (China’s) development as a country hence we are very interested in legal education and how to train talented and ethical legal practitioners. Our discussion today has been meaningful as the different views of academics have enriched our thinking on how we can better promote our democracy and rule of law,’ said Dacheng.

The visit was also a learning curve for law academics as the delegation shared insights on China’s five-year legal publicity plan aimed at educating the public about the law, training government leaders on how to obey the law and possible personnel exchange opportunities.

UKZN’s Law School Acting Dean and Head Professor Warren Freedman said the School was keen on exploring staff and student exchange and collaboration opportunities with China.

‘We have learned a lot about how the Chinese legal system works and are very interested in steps China has taken to promote the rule of law and the respect there is in that country for the Constitution, especially among young people,’ said Freedman. ‘We have been looking to the west for ideas for too long - it’s now time to look at China,’ he said.

Words and photograph: Thandiwe Jumo


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Research Top of School of Accounting, Economics and Finance Agenda

Research Top of School of Accounting, Economics and Finance Agenda
Participants of the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance Research Day.

Publish or Perish: Embracing Research Publication – that was the bold theme of this year’s School of Accounting, Economics and Finance Research Day.

The forum which has been held annually for seven consecutive years is aimed at contributing towards increasing research output in the College of Law and Management Studies.

The event, attended by 70 delegates, saw 30 academics and postgraduate students showcase quality research work done in areas of sustainability, finance management, entrepreneurship and capital, banks and exchange rates, health economics and regional economics.

‘It is important for all of us to embrace the University’s publication agenda when it comes to research,’ said Dean and Head of the School, Professor Mabutho Sibanda. ‘Presenting research on these platforms provides an opportunity to get constructive feedback from your peers making you think out of the box and encouraging you to produce quality research. The College and UKZN need academics and postgraduate students who produce quality research.’

The plenary sessions featured presentations by Ms Charmaine Lathleiff, Dr Colette Muller and Dr Claire Vermaak, Mr Lazarus Muchabaiwa and Professor Josue Mbonigaba, and Ayodeji Ogunlesi & Dr Gerry Bokana.

Ms Charmaine Lathleiff presentation was on: Imagining an Authentic Workplace Using Simulation: Exploring Simulation Pedagogy in Auditing Education. The presentation unpacked a more interactive way of teaching and applying theory in a practical setting.

Ms Colette Muller and Ms Claire Vermaak presented research they are working on with a masters student, Ms Singizi Sarah Nkulu, titled: A Double Disadvantage? Investigating the Gender Gap in Labour Market Outcomes Between African Immigrants and Citizens in Post-Apartheid South Africa.

Mr Lazarus Muchabaiwa and Professor Josue Mbonigaba presented on: The Impact of the Adolescent and Youth Sexual and Reproductive Health (ASRH) Strategy on Knowledge, Service Utilisation and Outcomes in Zimbabwe, while Ayodeji Ogunlesi & Dr Gerry Bokana: Agricultural Productivity and Food Security Stability in sub-Saharan Africa: LSDV and SYS-GMM Approach.

For the first time in the event’s history, the research sessions ran parallel with a Software Workshop for academics and Postgraduate students doing managerial accounting as well as a 3 Minute Thesis Competition. The 3 Minute Competition involved PhD candidates from various schools in the College, presenting their theses in three minutes.

Competition finalists included Law academic Mr Lee Swales who won the first prize with a presentation titled: An Analysis of the Regulatory Environment Governing Electronic Evidence in South Africa: its Implication for the Application of the Rules Applicable to Hearsay Evidence, Authentication and Weight; and whether These Factors are influenced by the Nature of Proceedings.

The following presentations were also featured: 

Swales was followed by Soni - who also won the People’s Choice Award - with Mathew coming third.

Words: Thandiwe Jumo


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UKZN Athletics Club Hosts Successful Comrades Route Test for Runners

UKZN Athletics Club Hosts Successful Comrades Route Test for Runners
UKZN Athletics Club members on a Comrades Marathon training run.

The UKZN Athletics Club recently hosted the first of three training runs to prepare hopefuls for the 2018 Comrades Marathon in June.

The down run route test, which attracted more than 300 KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and Gauteng runners, offered three different starting points with the race finishing at Howard College’s Gate 10. Runners had the choice of doing 60km, 50km or 40km.

Athletics Club member and PhD Town and Regional Planning student Mr Sanele Mbambo said the training run was open to all athletes.

Among those who attended were gold and silver medal recipients and well-known runners like Prodigal Khumalo and Siphiwe Ndlela.

Addressing runners, Mbambo said: ‘Thank you for participating. The success of the training run depends on you! Thanks also to our coach Mduduzi Khumalo for his role and all the incredible work he does in preparation for Comrades.’

Wishing his teammates and all Comrades runners well, Mbambo encouraged them to enjoy the journey and to stay focussed and disciplined, sticking to their training and diet, and looking after their bodies.

Words: Sithembile Shabangu


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Data Palooza Victory for UKZN PhD student and Aussie colleague

Data Palooza Victory for UKZN PhD student and Aussie colleague
Mr Salut Muhidin and Mr Tesleem Kayode Babalola.

UKZN College of Health Services PhD student Mr Tesleem Kayode Babalola and a student colleague from Australia teamed up to win the Longitudinal Data Palooza event organised by the DST/MRC South African Population Research Infrastructure Network (SAPRIN).

Babalola’s team mate was Mr Salut Muhidin of Macquarie University in Sydney, who is currently at Statistics South Africa’s provincial office in Cape Town.

Convened by SAPRIN Director, Professor Mark Collinson and Dr Kobus Herbst, the Longitudinal SAPRIN Data Palooza is an intensive hands-on analytic workshop event.

Analysts were given the opportunity to explore harmonised data from Health, Demographic and Socio-Economic Surveillance (HDSS) sites in South Africa which make up the DST/ SAPRIN.

Longitudinal data was collected beforehand from three South African HDSS sites – the Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI), Dikgale and Agincourt - since their inception, involving about 400 000 individuals and more than four million person years of observation.

Teams comprising participants from across the world were given a hands-on opportunity to explore the longitudinal dataset with the task of developing an analysis idea or to undertake an analysis or data visualisation on the data.

The analysis idea and data visualisation termed: Youth Transition to Adulthood, created by Babalola and Muhidin was voted the best analysis idea.

‘We used SAPRIN data to address the problems of the high unemployment rate, the low level of formal literacy and the poor family structure/sexual relationship crisis among the South African youth,’ said Babalola.

Babalola is currently a Public Health Medicine doctoral student investigating the technical efficiency of Public Sector district hospitals in KwaZulu-Natal under the supervision of Professor Indres Moodley.

Words: Nombuso Dlamini


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Medical Students Complete Six-Week Stay in Rural Area

Medical Students Complete Six-Week Stay in Rural Area
Homestay students with their host families.

Final-year Medical students celebrated the completion of a rural ‘homestay project’ with their ‘adoptive parents’ at the College of Health Sciences (CHS).

Known as a ‘rural block’ and co-ordinated by the Discipline of Family Medicine, the project involved students spending six weeks at rural sites as part of a decentralised training programme.

They had an opportunity to choose to actually live among the community for the six- week period of the project which investigated the use of homestays and whether they were a viable option for alternative accommodation for health sciences students.

‘We wanted to see whether homestays serve as a vehicle for community embeddedness for the students and also to explore whether opportunities exist, as a result of the project, for community development activities in support of the social accountability imperative,’ said the CHS’s Head of Family Medicine, Dr Bernhard Gaede.

The project began in August 2015 with the identification of four rural sites in the vicinity of the Church of Scotland in Msinga, St Andrews Hospital in Harding, the Bethesda Hospital in Ubombo and the Mseleni Hospital in a remote area of northern KwaZulu-Natal.

Suitable host-families, found close to the hospitals, received funding for accommodating the students.

Gaede said 45 out of 211 final year students in 2016 chose to do homestays and this increased to 105 out of 195 students in 2017. ‘A number of students had to be turned down due to the lack of available accommodation in the community.’

The year-end gathering at the College was attended by the host ‘parents’ from the four sites as well as students who stayed in the community during their ‘rural block’.

The students and their host parents exchanged gifts and took ‘selfies’.

Gaede spoke on the homestay project and the plan for the future while students recounted some of their experiences while living in the communities.

It was obvious that warm and close relationships had developed between the hosts and the students involved.

One of the students introduced himself as Dr Lande-Gumede – Lande being his own surname and Gumede that of the family he lived with for six weeks.

One of the host-mothers said: ‘I now have six children who are doctors!’

Words: Nombuso Dlamini


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Students and Supervisors Attend Proposal Writing Workshop

Students and Supervisors Attend Proposal Writing Workshop
Workshop attendees, facilitators and supervisors.

About 30 masters and doctoral students and supervisors from the College of Health Sciences attended an Early Bird Proposal Development workshop hosted by the School of Nursing and Public Health.

The week-long forum aimed to enhance the students’ knowledge of various research methods in preparation for their research protocol write up.

‘The goal was to assist students who want to start their research proposal early in the year, particularly MMedSci candidates hoping to complete their degree in a year,’ said workshop organiser, Dr Themba Ginidza.

The workshop was organised to help students in low-income brackets who struggle to complete a research masters or PhD in the minimum completion time because they cannot afford the fees.

It is hoped the knowledge and skills gained from the workshop will help improve the quality of masters and PhD dissertations produced by the students thus improving their degree completion time.

The workshop was run by eight academics from different disciplines within the School of Nursing and Public Health, Rural Health Medicine, Occupational and Environmental Health, and Public Health Medicine.

It included an introduction to public health; an overview of the proposal; an outline of the proposal-lecture; an outline of the proposal-individual work; problem analysis; conceptual framework and ethics; qualitative research; qualitative research tools; qualitative data analysis research; proposal background and literature review; background on quantitative research methodology; sample size calculation; quantitative analysis; quantitative data collection tools; data collection; formatting and referencing, and project planning and development.

The workshop was well received by the students who all agreed they had learned a lot.

‘I would like to thank Dr Themba Ginindza for organising this valuable workshop for our School,’ said the Academic Leader Research for the School of Nursing and Public Health, Dr Tivani Mashamba-Thompson.

‘I would also like to thank all the facilitators who gave of their time to deliver a high-quality workshop as well as their commitment to quality service delivery and transformation.’

Mashamba-Thompson also thanked the masters and PhD candidates who by attending the workshop, she said, showed their commitment to learning and to a goal of completing high-quality degrees. ‘I believe that the outcome of this workshop will help build research capacity, improve degree completion times, boost research productivity levels for our School and help the University of KwaZulu-Natal reach its transformation target.’

Words: Nombuso Dlamini


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Hassle free Registration on all UKZN Campuses

Hassle free Registration on all UKZN Campuses
Registration went on smoothly as UKZN welcomed new and returning students.

Registration began on all UKZN campuses this week with the University welcoming new and returning students to the 2018 academic year.

As the Premier University of African Scholarship, UKZN is one of the top universities sought after by matriculants throughout South Africa.

UKZN received more than 90 000 applications from prospective students this year for about 8 800 first year spaces available.

The School of Health Sciences received the most applications with the total of 39 131 and accepted 502 students while the School of Education accepted 988 students of the total of 20 887 applications.

About 15 913 students across the University have registered so far with 2 933 of those being first years.

Ms Nqobile Ntanzi, a first-year Law student from Verulam said she is looking forward to her experience of being a UKZN student, getting her degree and living her dream of being a lawyer.

On campus registration is currently underway. Students have until 2 March to pay all fees required for the first-semester registration.

Student Academic Administration Director Mr Bruce Banda said the registration process was going smoothly and the University’s online registration system was helping ensure there were no hassles or walk-ins.

For more information on registration and orientation times and venues, click on this link.

Lectures for new and returning students start on 5 February.

Words: Sithembile Shabangu


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First African Woman to Head Clinical Medicine

First African Woman to Head Clinical Medicine
Professor Ncoza Dlova who has been appointed Dean and Head of the School of Clinical Medicine.

Professor Ncoza Dlova has been seconded to the position of Dean and Head of UKZN’s School of Clinical Medicine for a two year period.

Dlova has enjoyed a successful career as Chief Specialist and Head of Dermatology at UKZN. In her two years as the first Black African Head of Department and Professor of Dermatology, she has achieved phenomenal successes owing to her passion and drive for excellence with her main areas of research being in the areas of dermatology, ethnic skin and hair diseases, pigmentation disorders and HIV and AIDS.

Dlova initiated several successful campaigns which have been recognised locally by the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Department of Health, and the National South African Dermatology Society, and also internationally.

Notable successes include fundraising R450 000 to refurbish the Skin Clinic at King Edward VIII Hospital in Durban; introducing a WhatsApp consulting service between dermatologists in regional hospitals and medical doctors in rural hospitals thus reducing hospital referrals and patient transfers; driving a national Anti-Skin Bleaching campaign on the streets of Durban in partnership with the Department of Health in KZN, and establishing a dermatological surgery programme to provide training in dermatological surgery allowing specialists to offer a more comprehensive service to skin cancer patients and relieve some of the burdens on plastic surgeons.

The dermatological surgery programme was developed in partnership with the Harvard Medical School in the United States and Blade and Light - a US-based organisation involved in global dermatology training.

Dlova is also the elected Africa dermatologist on the International Board of Unilever USA and has collaborated on the organisation’s community outreach initiative Direct Relief to provide continued medical education to healthcare professionals through a R1 million grant to improve the management of skin conditions in KZN and the Eastern Cape.

She has trained more than 25 African dermatologists since she qualified as the first Black African dermatologist in KZN and is a C1 NRF-rated researcher with more than 60 peer-reviewed publications. She has also written three books and 15 book chapters and co-supervised a large number of PhD and masters students.

‘Her phenomenal contribution to the global growth of African Dermatology cannot be overemphasized,’ said Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Health Sciences, Professor Busisiwe Ncama.

‘Dlova is intuitive and will be an exceptional asset to the College as Dean - the first African woman to hold this position in the 70-year history of the Medical School. I am honoured to have her on my leadership team.’

Words: Lihle Sosibo and Maryann Francis


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