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CAN holds first scientific symposium at Stellenbosch
Author: Corporate Communication / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie
Published: 05/02/2018

The Crick African Network (CAN), of which Stellenbosch University (SU) is one of five African partner institutions, held a unique scientific symposium on 'Basic Science of Infectious Diseases in Africa' at Spier, Stellenbosch recently (26-28 January 2018). Hosted jointly by the University of Cape Town (UCT) and the Crick Institute, London, as well as SU, the symposium brought together specialists in science and technology from the Crick institute as well as experts from both SU and UCT.

The symposium formed an integral part of CAN's activities, whose goal it is to train next generation of leading scientists in Africa, dealing with the most pressing diseases on the continent. To this end, 18 prestige postdoctoral fellowships will be awarded over the next four years, allowing fellows to spend one year at the Crick Institute and one year at their respective African host institutions.

Opening the event, Prof Eugene Cloete, Vice-Rector for Research, Innovation and Postgraduate Studies at SU, highlighted the critical role of technology and innovation as well as postgraduate fellows in addressing Africa's unique challenges. Prof Valerie Mizrahi, Director of the Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine at UCT, emphasised the critical role of science in driving the economy of a country. Also discussed at the symposium, was TB-centered research conducted by UCT and SU scientists who highlighted the importance of especially advanced imaging technologies in pushing this field forward.

“The symposium has been highly valuable as it addresses multiple aspects uniquely, which will be fostered in the next 4 years. It also creates a unique training ground for building know-how around, eg. advanced imaging techniques which is critical to stay on par with the latest developments," says Dr Ben Loos, head of the neuro research group in SU's Department of Physiological Sciences and one of the principal partners of CAN.

The symposium was followed by a two-day workshop which focused on globally competitive scientific proposal writing and presentation thereof as well as talks on career guidance. Unique interaction between faculty, including international and local experts, and postdoctoral fellows led to the design and presentation of highly competitive, polished, statistically sound and attractive research proposals.

Similar workshops follow in the next few months in the other African partner institutions, after which the call for fellowships will open.

  • Photo: Scientists at the CAN symposium.