Psychiatry
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Department of Psychiatry

Research - Research Units

The South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) Chair in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Chair overview

The South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) is a flagship programme of the National Research Foundation (NRF) and is supported by the Department of Science and Technology and the NRF. The SARChI Chair in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was awarded to Professor Soraya Seedat in 2007 and initiated in January 2008. PTSD is a severe, chronic and debilitating psychiatric disorder that occurs after exposure to extremely traumatic events and significantly impairs normal functioning and quality of life. Since its inception, the program has attracted a steady flow of both laboratory and clinically geared students and staff at honours, masters, doctoral and postdoctoral level.

The SARChI Chair in PTSD has a strong gene-brain-behaviour research focus (animal and human). Our human genetics research group aims to identify genetic factors that play a role in increasing or decreasing individual risk for PTSD by applying a three-pronged approach, which involves conducting gene expression and epigenetic analyses, as well as protein-protein interaction analyses. Projects in this regard include investigation of the effects of exercise on memory deficits brought on by stress, investigating the therapeutic effects of D-Cycloserine on fear extinction in an animal model for PTSD, and identification of ligands of proteins that are known to be involved in PTSD (e.g. wolframin). Projects within the clinical domain span a wide spectrum and include investigation of the psychopathological, neurocognitive, and imaging aspects of PTSD in the context of adolescent trauma, HIV, and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, among others.

SARCHI 2014 newsletter​ 


 

Projects Underway

A selection of research projects currently underway are listed below. 

For more detailed information about any of these/other projects, please contact

The Head, Prof. Soraya Seedat, sseedat@sun.ac.za; or

The administrative officer, Vanessa Jones; vanessaj@sun.ac.za

 

  1. Effects of alcohol abuse on the brain in the context of earlier ART-initiation among HIV infected individuals
  2. The role of non-coding RNAs in fear extinction
  3. Insights from the micro biome in understanding the shared roots of neuropsychiatric disorders and modifiable risk factors for cardiovascular disease
  4. Association between motor cognition and treatment outcomes in patients with alcohol- and/or cocaine addiction in a rehabilitation programme
  5. Hormones in hair as possible predictive biomarkers of posttraumatic stress disorder in women who have been raped
  6. Relationship between childhood trauma, neuropsychological deficits, neural circuitry, and anxiety proneness in high-anxiety prone and low-anxiety prone adolescents
  7. Effectiveness of prolonged exposure for adolescents with PTSD as administered by counsellors: Comparative trial of supportive counselling
  8. Relationships between anxiety, childhood trauma, resilience and physiological determinants of health, both centrally and peripherally, in adolescents
  9. Understanding and treating trauma and violence-related pathologies in South African Townships: Emergence and modifiability of epigenetic and neural memories of traumatic stressors and appetitive offending
  10. A comparison of neuropsychological functioning and structured MRI in traumatised adolescents with and without PTSD
  11. A phase IIb randomised placebo- controlled trial of zinc and vitamins A&D in HIV positive patients with early Clade C associated neurocognitive impairment on stable antiretroviral treatment


 

SAARCHI Members

Staff

Professor Soraya Seedat
Chair holder
sseedat@sun.ac.za

 

Fatima Ahmed
Research Assistant
fahmed@sun.ac.za

 

Leticia Hintsho
Research Nurse

busiswa@sun.ac.za


Tracey Jacobs
Research Assistant

tjacobs@sun.ac.za


Vanessa Jones
Programme Administrator
Tel: +27 21 938 9784

vanessaj@sun.ac.za


Hartwig Visser
Technical Lab Manager

Hartwig27@sun.ac.za

 
Sr Irene Mbanga
irenemb@sun.ac.za

 
Ms Jani Nothling
Research Assistant
janinothling@sun.ac.za


Candice Simmons
Clinical Psychologist
csimmons@sun.ac.za


Tanya van de Water
Research Psychologist
tanyavdw@sun.ac.za

EileenThomas
eileenthomas@sun.ac.za

Prof Helena Kuivaniemi
Molecular, Biology and Human genetics
hkuivaniemi@sun.ac.za

Sian Hemmings
smjh@sun.ac.za

Bulelwa Zibi
Junior Technical Assistant
bulelwazibi@sun.ac.za

Malizo Ngxolo
Driver

Postdoctoral Fellows

Stefanie Malan-Muller
smalan@sun.ac.za

Georgina Spies

ggiocos@sun.ac.za 


 
Postgraduate students
Susanne Bakelaar
susanbakelaar@hotmail.com

Melanie Bishop
mbishop@sun.ac.za

Lindi Martin
lmartin@sun.ac.za

Jaco Rossouw
Jacorossouw@telkomsa.net

Monet Viljoen
14320444@sun.ac.za

Khethelo Xulu
kxulu@sun.ac.za

Melanie Cilliers
Mel.deist@gmail.com

Sylvanus Ikiyo Toikumo
sylvanus89@sun.ac.za