Knowledge brokerage

The operational environment
All three nodes are actively involved in the sharing of knowledge amongst researchers within the CBTBR through lab meetings held at least weekly. Journal Club meetings, held weekly at the three sites, also provide an opportunity to share broader-based scientific issues and ideas within the field of biological sciences within and beyond CoE hosting institutions. Team members, staff and students also attend numerous local and international conferences / workshops, often as invited speakers, where they shared their work with the international community. Regular meetings with the relevant health authorities, such as the Western and Eastern Cape Departments of Health, to share findings.

Knowledge translation to stakeholder groups
CBTBR members were involved in numerous public awareness activities countrywide in 2017:

Science communication, outreach activities, public awareness, public engagement, and publicity - click to open or close information

The SU Node (Dr Whitfield – PostDoctoral Candidate) has been actively involved in promoting public engagement within the Division of Molecular Biology and Human Genetics to engage the public. Presentations promoting Science and Research were given to the following schools:

Date School visited No of Students present

20 April 2017

Somerset College


5 May 2017

Fairmont High School


8 May 2017

Bishops High School


24 May 2017

Bridge House School


1 June 2017

Harry Gwala Secondary School


25 July 2017

Rondebosch Boys High School


31 July 2017

Stellenbosch High School


3 August 2017

Westerford High School


22 August 2017

Rustenburg Girls High School


5 September 2017

Paul Roos Boys High School


16 October 2017

Bloemhof Girls High School


This platform has results in over 1500 students addressed/engaged.

  • Dr Anastasia Koch jointly led the Eh!Woza public engagement project with artist Ed Young. She oversaw the successful completion of the 2017 workshop programme with 20 workshops held, and four films produced by learner participants. This pioneering public engagement project was awarded two Wellcome Trust Pubic Engagement grants (one in collaboration with WITS University for social science research around sexuality [PI: Dr Nolwazi Mkhwanazi], and the other for a collaborative project with MSF around TB and music video production [PI: Mr Ed Young]). UCT node researchers, Joanna Evans, Mandy Mason and Charles Omollo, assisted with facilitating the Biology Workshops conducted by the Eh!Woza public engagement programme, with the aim of educating learners aged 15 – 17 from Khayelitsha, Cape Town, about the intricacies of biomedical TB research, specifically TB drug discovery.
  • The Eh!Woza project has inspired the PhD project of Bianca Masuku, an Anthropology student who is based at UCT, co-supervised by Digby Warner, Anastasia Koch and Nolwazi Mkhwanazi (WiSER, WITS), and supported by a bursary from the CoE for Human Development. The title of her thesis is “Beyond the lab and behind the lens: An anthropological exploration of a youth-based TB community engagement project in Khayelitsha, Cape Town”. The Eh!Woza project is a community engagement initiative that aims to document and engage with the problem of TB/HIV within the township of Khayelitsha where the diseases are endemic. Through inter-disciplinary collaboration this project serves as a bridge between biomedical research, youth education and the arts in order to understand how people understand and experience TB disease. Through the lens of anthropology, this research study makes use of this community engagement project to provide an ethnographic analysis of a youth-based initiative on TB working with young people between the ages of 15-17 years recruited from a Khayelitsha-based educational NGO. Exposed to high impact biomedical research and provided with filming equipment and skills, the participating youth document the story of TB within their communities using the knowledge they acquire from the initiative. With this Bianca asks: How does Eh!woza, a youth-based community engagement project, navigate the experience of TB in the township of Khayelitsha? Bianca’s research is still in progress and fieldwork has commenced following preliminary data collection from May to October 2016 and 2017. The preliminary findings of this study have revealed four key points/themes that will be explored further. These are:
    • The science-based workshops of the Eh!Woza project establish a particular understanding of TB disease oriented within a biomedical framework that neglects the experience of the disease outside of the laboratory. This revealed the limits of biomedical research in capturing and realising the social burden of the disease through the narratives of the ill. The media workshops capture both the perspectives of the youth and affected individuals within the community on the lived reality of TB illness. In doing so, they work to show what influences people’s understandings of TB and the effects these have on the way the disease is experienced and navigated.
    • The manner in which the youth choose to represent themselves and their community highlights how they navigate their own position in their communities, articulating a particular voice about the role they play in creating particular understanding and narrating how disease is understood and lived within social worlds. 
    • Perceptions of community members about TB as an infectious disease are influenced by the social reality of poverty and its daily constraints. 
    • Engaging youth on an infectious disease such as TB through film not only creates a platform for young people to represent their own perspectives of the disease, but also exposes them to the reality of the disease in their own communities.
  • Prof. Warner participated in a series of workshops in 2017 that were hosted by UCT’s Office of Postgraduate Studies and aimed at equipping Postdoctoral Fellows at UCT with the skills necessary to supervise postgraduate students. Prof. Warner also served as mentor during a related workshop which was designed to develop writing skills among recent postdoctoral appointees within the University.
  • On World TB Day 24th March 2017, members of the Wits node participated in the Unmask Stigma campaign aimed at building public awareness that TB today remains an epidemic in much of the world. Created and manned exhibitions on TB statistics and posters. A photo booth, microscope, posters and other props were displayed to educate students on TB. Flyers with TB information was given to passer-by’s. The exhibition photographs were posted on social media to create awareness about the danger associated with TB. 
  • Members of the Wits node participated at the Wits Students’ Pathology Society event: Pathology and Precision Medicine Week at Wits medical school. Information on the research carried out at the CBTBR and the kind of careers one could pursue with the training was provided.
  • Dr. Machowski was involved in the maintenance of the CBTBR Website  (, Facebook page ( and Twitter account (CBTBRwits). She is also involved in setting up and maintaining the Molecular Biosciences Research Thrust (MBRT; website.

TB under the Microscope
“TB Under the Microscope” is a collaborative exhibition between scientists and social scientists. As part of the greater collective of ‘Swallowing the World: A Multidisciplinary Curatorial Project on Tuberculosis in South Africa’, the project arises from the desire to share scientific research on Tuberculosis with the broader public. Through collaboration with a number of scientific researchers from the DSTNRF Centre of Excellence for Biomedical Tuberculosis Research and the SAMRC Centre for Tuberculosis Research, the body of work consists of enlarged microscopic images of Mycobacterium tuberculosis – the bacteria that causes the disease, Tuberculosis. The project is made possible by the generous funding of the Wellcome Trust.

This exhibit aims to showcase the work of scientists dedicated to better understanding Mycobacterium tuberculosis in order to contribute to the development of better treatments and vaccines for TB. One of the major aims is to foster a space in which the work of scientists is brought ‘out of the laboratory’ and into the realm of the public; where TB science is made accessible and understandable to more than a few. Bringing these scientific understandings into the public realm adds another dimension to the social discussions around TB. Rather than centering the experiences of TB patients, this project explores the care and passion of researchers, humanizing the ‘cold face of science’. In doing so it decenters, but does not ignore, the infection and disease inside human beings and the social experience of having TB.

These images – familiar to some, strange to most – allow the viewer to enter into another world that would not be possible without the aid of technology; an invisible world seemingly as unreachable as outer space, and just as fascinating. The images center the bacteria in such a way that it is rendered a ‘subject’ rather than an object of scientific research and prompt us to question; what new understandings of TB are brought into being when this ‘bug’ is reframed in such a way?

Through these microscopic images, one can further contemplate the dichotomy between a deadly pathogen responsible for killing 1.5 million people globally every year and its aesthetic beauty when placed outside the context of the human body. Indeed, these images lend themselves to unknown and invisible worlds, and the many truths, experiences and understandings that orbit around TB. We have thus chosen to visualize the bacteria through microscopic images in order to take the viewer on a journey, exploring the many dichotomies that emerge when these fascinating and terrifying bacteria is reframed and ‘made visible’ through the work of science and the passion of scientists.

FameLab 2017
In December 2017 (6th to 7th), three of our students, Timothy De Wet, Bianca Masuku and Tsaone Tamuhla were invited to participate in the FameLab heat at Science Forum South Africa (SFSA) 2017.

By taking part, they would stand a chance to represent the centre at the national semi-finals of FameLab South Africa 2018.

FameLab is one of the longest running science communication competitions in the world, with over 30 participating countries globally. It is an exciting initiative to find new voices in science, technology, engineering, maths and innovation (STEMI).  Science Forum South Africa is an initiative of the Department of Science and Technology, which took place 7-8 December 2017 under the theme, “Igniting conversations about science”.

All three representatives were selected to compete in the final heat of the competition. This was a great platform and opportunity for the students to learn and showcase their projects. Well done to the team!

Values-Driven Renewal Process
In November 2016, an external professional consultant from the University of Stellenbosch Business School, facilitated and presented a strategic plan for the SU node.  Walzl and his management team participated and contributed to the contents of this strategic plan, which highlights the SU nodes’ vision, mission, values and strategic objectives. This activity showed that a comprehensive approach was needed to change the culture of the node and therefore embarked on a general Values-Driven Renewal Process at the beginning of 2017. The node enlisted the company, Retha Alberts and Associates to drive this process. The aim was for the facilitators to use a scientific model to align the process with the Vision, Mission and Values of the node. These conversations centered around Transfoprmation, Decolonization, Equity, Diversity etc. Approximately 200 members from the SU node participated in these workshops. Staff and students were divided into focus groups of approximately 20 for a facilitated organizational development process that included gauging the staff’s understanding and buy-in of the vision, mission and the espoused values and their willingness and ability to demonstrate these values in their daily behavior. In addition, an assessment of the current climate and culture within the node was undertaken to gain a better understanding of the constraints and enablers that would ensure the realization of the vision and mission. The participants were asked to propose ways in which to co-create an inclusive, harmonious collegial and sustainable successful new culture and the transformational leadership required within the node. The facilitators then diagnosed and interpreted the participants’ inputs, and proposed meaningful processes (a ‘roadmap’) of capacity building interventions, that were then presented over a period of approximately 8 -12 months. The importance of taking into account and striving for diversity (i.t.o. age, race, gender, position / seniority) and using an inclusive approach, e.g. ensuring that all staff, across all divisions and functional areas were included (“all voices need to be heard”) was emphasized.

The next steps (Roadmap) in the Values-Driven Renewal Approach was the following: (i) Interactive workshops with the management team (40 individuals) to discuss “Change Readiness” – Effective crucial conversations influencing behavior and performance feedback. (ii) Interactive workshop with management to discuss Emotional Intelligence (MBTI) and this included conflict handling and team work. (iii) Individual coaching (1:1) to facilitate individual growth. This arm of the roadmap will take place in the first semester of 2018, and (iv) Interactive Embracing Diversity Workshops with all staff and students from the SU node.

BSc Honors Mentoring Project
In 2017, Prof Sampson and Dr Smith (SU node) started a mentorship program for the BSc Hons class of 2017. All Hons students (mentees) were paired up with a mentor (senior student) from the node. Mentoring is seen as a voluntary relationship between a person of lesser experience and a person of greater experience that is based on mutual trust and respect. The inception year of this program was a success and will be expanded to other new students joining the Division. Goal-setting vision, professional development and domain-specific knowledge were some of the key points that was highlighted.

Knowledge brokerage

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© CBTBR 2006 | Last updated: 3 July, 2018