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. We also attend numerous local and international conferences, often as invited speakers, where we share our work with the international community. We have had numerous meetings and contacts with health authorities, such as W and E Cape Departments of Health, to share with them our findings and the implication of these. These are just some of the bodies we have met with. Team members also advise international organisations, such as GATB and WHO.
Knowledge translation to stakeholder groups
CBTBR members were involved in numerous public awareness activities countrywide in 2012:
Public awareness, public engagement, and publicity
- Prof. Mizrahi delivered her Inaugural Lecture entitled, “Knowing the Enemy: Survival and Subversion Strategies of Mycobacterium tuberculosis” at UCT on 22 August. This public lecture attracted a wide audience from across Cape Town.
- On 20 November, the Health Sciences Postdoctoral Association (HSPDA) of UCT held its inaugural Postdoctoral Research Day as part of the Faculty Centenary Celebrations. UCT node postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Joanna Evans, chaired this event, and Drs. Vinayak Singh and Krishnamoorthy Gopinath served on the Organising Committee. Postdoctoral fellows from across the University were invited to participate, with the aim of increasing awareness of the research being carried out by postdocs in other Faculties and encouraging further academic interaction between UCT postdocs. As a result, the audience of approximately 170 people, comprising postgraduate students and staff members as well as postdocs, was treated to a selection of presentations that covered topics ranging from Astronomy and Chemistry to Zoology and Immunology. Three distinguished plenary speakers, Emeritus Prof. Wieland Gevers (IIDMM, UCT), Prof. Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan (Zoology, UCT) and Prof Robert Millar (IIDMM, UCT) delivered excellent lectures centered around the theme of how to succeed as a postdoc in academia. The Faculty of Health Sciences, together with IIDMM, sponsored a very generous sum of R12000 prize money for the top three presentations in both the oral and poster categories, which were decided upon by a selection of academics from within the Faculty. This event was a great success that was thoroughly enjoyed by all who attended.
- Members of the UCT node also participated in a number of outreach activities:
- Prof. Mizrahi interviewed by SABC radio and SABC television at the 3rd SA TB Conference in Durban. Television interview was broadcast on the main news bulletins on SABC1, SABC2, SABC3 and e-TV on June 12 and June 13, 2012.
- Ms. Anastasia Koch is a member of the Health Sciences Postgraduate Students Council (HSPSC), and serve as the co-head of the Social Responsiveness Portfolio. The aim of the portfolio is to provide a space and structure for HSF postgraduate students to contribute to community outreach initiatives, and to develop a culture of social responsiveness within the HSF. Events that have been arranged by this portfolio include: a postgraduate students quiz night that was held on 4 October 2012 to raise money for Friends of the Children's Hospital Organization, and workshops with postgraduate students to plan a series of health-related events to be held in partnership with Ikamva Youth in Khayelitsha in February 2013.
- Two Grade 11 students from the LEAP school (http://leapschool.org.za/) were hosted by PhD students, Anastasia Koch and Zanele Ditse, in August 2012. The students, who are interested in pursuing a career in scientific research, spent two days in the MMRU to find out what a career in biomedical research might entail.
- Dr. Evans participated in the Pinelands High School Careers Evening (21 June 2012) and advised learners on careers in Microbiology/Molecular Biology.
- Dr. Warner adjudicated essays submitted to the Royal Society of South Africa Schools Essay Competition in June 2012.
- On the 19th September 2012, the Faculty of Health Sciences at Wits University hosted their biennial Health Sciences Research Day. This event was chaired by Dr Bavesh Kana from the Wits node and the other members of the node were extensively involved in organization of the day, coordinating exhibitions and review of the abstract book. The day was a phenomenal success and served as a wonderful platform to garner greater enthusiasm for research within and across many different disciplines. The event was attended by over 1000 delegates, with 90 oral and 187 poster presentations, covering topics within five themes: Clinical Research and Therapeutics for Health; Diseases of Lifestyle; Education, policy and systems; Infectious Diseases and Molecular and Comparative Biosciences. Research Day 2012, which fell under the auspices of the Wits90 celebrations, was held in the spirit of celebrating the Faculty’s achievements in research, which was reflected in the record number of abstract submissions and overall increased attendance by researchers, exhibitors, government officials, senior visitors from other Faculties and senior University staff. The Deputy Minister of Health, Dr Gwen Ramokgopa gave the opening address which was followed by plenary lectures by Dr Jonathan Lewis (Director of ZIOPHARM Oncology) and Professor Shabir Madhi (Executive Director of the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) and Director of the Respiratory Meningeal Pathogens Research Unit). Three round table discussions were convened in the afternoon, where top, highly qualified experts gathered to tackle different issues (A world without AIDS; Eliminating TB and Colliding Epidemics – Africa in Transition). Dr Kana, along with other members of the organizing committee raised R 463 000 in sponsorship to fund the event, R 187 500 of which was disbursed as awards for excellent research presentations. The Health Science Research day 2012 promoted a renewed passion for scientific research and related activities and would not have been possible without the extensive involvement and time commitment from the Wits node of the CBTBR.
- During the Wits Health Sciences Research Day 2012, the members of the Wits node of the CBTBR created an exhibit to profile the work done on TB at Wits University. There was significant contact with undergraduate and postgraduate students from various disciplines, many of whom wanted to know more about TB.
- Dr Bavesh Kana participated in an open round table discussion at the Wits Health Sciences Research day on strategies for eradication of TB in South Africa, 19th September 2012. This discussion was attended by a broad spectrum of people from within and outside the University.
- Dr. Christopher Ealand and Ms Nicole Narrandes participated in the Wits Cross-Faculty Open Day. They created and manned an exhibit to profile the work done at the CBTBR to high school students.
- In July 2012, Dr Bavesh Kana was invited to participate in the Talking Heads program. This program involved the gathering of 50 of the most interesting thought leaders/experts in South Africa. Each of these leaders meets with 4 groups of 6-8 people from the general public to discuss their area of expertise. Dr Kana was engaged in this program as an expert and used the opportunity to profile the TB problem and the work done at the CBTBR to members of the general public/other professionals.
- In March 2012, Dr Kana served as a judge in the 2011 edition of the Discovery Health Journalism Awards. He reviewed health related journalism in different categories, including television, radio, print media and trade publications. He provided feedback to journalists regarding reporting style and made recommendations to improve health reporting in these sectors. Dr Kana was also invited to attend the awards function where presentations were made to the journalists with winning entries.
- Dr Bavesh Kana also had the opportunity to provide mentorship and advice to postgraduate students, nurses and community health care workers on building academic careers in science at two local conferences. The first workshop was conducted at the South African Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 2012 Meeting, 29 January – 1 February 2012, Champagne Sport Resort, Drakensberg, South Africa. This was a unique opportunity to provide career guidance to MSc, PhD students and postdocs with varying research backgrounds. The second workshop was held at the Research Capacity Building Session of the 3rd SA TB Conference, 12-15 June 2012, International Convention Centre, Durban, South Africa. In this case a broader local audience of postgraduate students, nurses and clinicians attended to seek his advice on pursing academic research.
- Dr Bavesh Kana was invited to give a talk at the Midrand Graduate Institute on developing research careers in the South African setting. He addressed an audience comprising undergraduate and postgraduate students. Senior members of the academic staff also attended.
- Prof. Warren presented two lectures in the MBChB module on Infections and Clinical Immunology in 2012. Title: Molecular Epidemiology of Drug Resistant TB in South Africa.
- Numerous radio, TV and newspaper interviews locally and abroad. Owing to extreme administrative burden, opportunistic interviews, no accurate records were kept.
Prof Corfield has continued her involvement in outreach activities that engage the general public in a greater awareness and appreciation of biomedical science; since 1998, she has received support and encouragement for this work from different stake holders and has actively encouraged the participation of others in these events. These activities have been undertaken with “outreach” funding from the CBTBR or with the Community Liaison Office/Research Translation Office of the MRC, with Ms Benita Mayosi.
A highlight of 2012 has been that Prof Corfield was judged the most worthy recipient of the 2011/2012 NSTF-BHP Billiton Award in the category “To an Individual or a Team for an outstanding contribution to SETI through Science Communication for Public Awareness over the last 5 years – sponsored by the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA)”. The award was made to Prof Corfield for producing a package of innovative SETI-based public engagement activities which she shares with other scientists and science communicators through training workshops and printed/electronic/DVD resources. This award requires that the winner presents a series of lectures to high school learners (particularly), Prof Corfield presented the first of these in August 2012 to learner visiting iThemba Labs, Western Cape. The title of her presentation was “A different scientist’s journey; enjoying the ride” which traced her interest and education in science from primary school to doctorate and her 47 year career in varied natural science disciplines, including the last 26 years of research in CBTBR investigating the molecular genetics of heart disease.
Prof Corfield continued to promote the use of the Murder Mystery genre to engage the general public in the science underpinning DNA forensics and in the ethical issues that this technology raises. She has written three more “who-dun-it” scenarios which have been used in public engagement activities, at Scifest Africa 2012 and the CT Science Centre, also train science graduates in public engagement skills.
During 2012, Prof Corfield was involved in other activities that furthered public awareness of various aspects of science. One of these is the continued rollout of the DNA Project, an organisation which seeks to raise awareness of the importance of DNA forensic evidence through many activities. During 2012, Prof Corfield has presented, DN: CSI, which she has helped develop with other trainers working with the DNA Project, to the South African Police (SAPS), security companies, school learners of all ages and the general public. Again in 2012, in response to the need to raise awareness of the range of health-related careers available to school learners, Prof Corfield presented a talk entitled “Careers in Health Care” to Stellenbosch University’s bridging programme.
The activities in which Prof Corfield and members of CCBTBR were involved in 2012 are detailed below:
- February 13 DNA:CSI workshop Pinelands High School
- February 16 DNA:CSI workshop Diep River SAPS
- March 10 and 11 Scifest Africa Sci-friend science communication training workshop run in conjunction with international science communicators
- March 14-20 Scifest Africa daily DNA Detective (7); DNA:CSI (7); Murder Mysteries (2) workshops
- May 21 “Careers in Health Sciences” presentation to bridging course learners at Stellenbosch University
- June 25 DNA:CSI workshop Group 4 Security Services (2)
- August 15 NSTF BHP Billiton presentation to high school learners visiting iThemba labs
- October 31 Murder Mystery staff training and presentation at CT Science Centre as part of their Public Understanding of Biotechnology programme
- December 5 Member of discussion panel at Teachers’ Forum to discuss Body Worlds exhibition