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Mental health genetics: African solutions for African challenges health genetics: African solutions for African challengesBenyam Worku Dubale, Celia van der Merwe & Dr Nathaniel McGregor<p><em>This article was originally published on </em><a href=""><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. Read the full article </em><a href="">here</a><em>.</em></p><p>Over the past two decades, mental health research has advanced markedly. But most <a href="">mental health studies</a> haven't included African people – either as researchers or as participants. This raises an all too familiar concern that Africa could be a bystander as advances in molecular and genetic research of the brain proceed at a breakneck speed. </p><p>A turning point in this disparity has been the realisation that the involvement of Africa in mental health research is vitally important. This is true for two reasons. Firstly, science that doesn't include diverse population groups risks being biased, inaccurate and incomplete. Secondly, African populations are genetically <a href="">the most diverse</a> due to the continent's unique position as a <a href="">land of origins</a>. </p><p>Missing this diversity has held back the progress of mental health genetics <a href="">research</a>.</p><p>A dedicated <a href="">group</a> of African and non-African researchers, clinicians and institutions are working to reverse this trend and make up for lost time. </p><p>But, the challenges are formidable.</p><p>The first is that there's been a bias in medical research in Africa towards communicable diseases. This includes HIV, tuberculosis and malaria. The need to eradicate these diseases cannot be over emphasised. But this shouldn't be at the expense of issues such as mental health and its associated repercussions. </p><p>The second problem relates to budgetary constraints. Mental health disorders account for <a href="">approximately 19%</a> of the overall years lived with a disability in African countries. But less than 1% of the health budgets of countries is attributed to mental health.</p><p>Thirdly, not many clinical trials and genetic studies have been done on the continent. Often, policymakers consider genetics a distraction to the more urgent problems faced on the continent.</p><p>Lastly, government agencies and institutions find it difficult to justify allocation of funds to genetics studies and mental health research. But given the pace of technical and analytic developments in the field, African scientists can no longer afford to ignore the possibility that the opportunities may outweigh the perils of genetic research.</p><p><strong>Breaking down barriers</strong></p><p>So what can be done?</p><p>One initiative that's trying to break down some of the barriers is the <a href="">Human Heredity and Health in Africa</a> (H3Africa). This organisation is invested in understanding health and disease in African populations by providing research opportunities to study the interplay between environmental and genetic factors that affect the spread of diseases.</p><p>The initiative is also leading efforts to get the public, institutions and governments engaged on genetic research in mental health disorders. This is part of an effort to close the knowledge gap so that insights from genetics are more accessible and understandable. </p><p>Another initiative, designed to address the problem of a lack of expertise, is being driven by the <a href="">Global Initiative for Neuropsychiatric Genetic Education in Research</a>. Genetics research is highly complex and requires knowledge in areas ranging from computational sciences to ethical studies. The initiative is bridging the training and capacity gaps of mental health genetic research in Africa through online classrooms and onsite visits for early-career African researchers. </p><p>In addition to analytic experience, the curriculum teaches a range of skills including time management, communication, networking, and building interpersonal relationships. All are designed to help fellows become independent researchers. </p><p>The programme is committed to producing the next generation of African researchers. And to set the foundation for these fellows to mentor, train and produce a second generation of scientists. </p><p>The hope is that the programme will also spearhead a new level of collaboration between African institutions and overseas collaborators. This too can help overcome the shortage of skilled genetic researchers in Africa. </p><p>Two other initiatives are also helping advance mental health research, though they aren't specifically focused on the genetics of mental health. These are the <a href="">African Mental Health Research Initiative</a> and the <a href="">Friendship Bench Project</a>. Both have paved the way for increased funding, collaboration and understanding of mental health in Africa. </p><p><strong>Additional hurdles to overcome</strong></p><p>Even after the research hurdles have been cleared, other challenges will have to be addressed. </p><p>Chief among these is the need to assuage people's fears about taking part in genetic studies. Misconception, stigma, and socio-cultural prohibitions have hampered genomic research in Africa. Participants tend to feel uneasy about the long-term use of their blood and tissue samples in genomic research. </p><p>This means that a lot of work still needs to be done to encourage people to take part in studies by contributing biological samples and clinical data. </p><p>On top of this, methods need to be found to extract samples that are both affordable and non-invasive. And finally, participants must be afforded the chance to make informed decisions about taking part in research. In particular, those with diminished or impaired autonomy need special protection.</p><p>Some work has already been done to address these issues. For example, H3Africa developed guidelines on the export of samples from African countries. But it's unclear if all institutions adhere to them. </p><p>And there are still big gaps. <a href="">Most African countries</a> don't have policies for health-related research so harmonisation isn't possible. There's also no comprehensive framework to guide mental health neuropsychiatric genetics research in Africa. This needs to be developed and should take into account how best to mobilise local and international resources.</p><p>Our continent provides incredible diversity and a wealth of knowledge that needs to be tapped. </p><p><strong><em>About the authors</em></strong></p><p><em>Benyam Worku Dubale - </em><em>Assistant Professor and Head, Department of Psychiatry, Addis Ababa University</em></p><p><em>Celia van der Merwe - </em><em>Post doctoral research fellow, University of Cape Town</em></p><p><em>Dr Nathaniel McGregor - </em><em>Lecturer and Researcher, Department of Genetics; & SU/ UCT MRC Unit on Risk and Resilience in Mental Disorders, Stellenbosch University</em></p><p><em>Fellows from the Global Initiative for Neuropsychiatric Genetic Education in Research (GINGER) contributed to this article: Felicita Omari, Benedict Akimana, Melkam Alemayhu, Shareefa Dalvie, Abebe Ejigu, Michelle Hoogenhout, Allan Kalungi, Symon M. Kariuki, Nastassja Koen, Lerato Majara, Jackline Mmochi, Emmanuel K. Mwesiga, Linnet Ongeri, Abigiya Wondimagegnehu Tilahun</em></p><p><em> </em></p><p><em>Photo: Pixabay</em><br></p>
Jonathan Jansen appointed at Stellenbosch University Jansen appointed at Stellenbosch UniversityCorporate Communications / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie<p>​​The public intellectual and former vice-chancellor of the University of the Free State, Prof Jonathan Jansen, has accepted a position at Stellenbosch University (SU).</p><p>Jansen (61), an A-rated scientist with the National Research Foundation, will take up the position of distinguished professor in the Faculty of Education, where he will be teaching and conducting research on school governance, management, leadership and policy. He will also serve as a mentor to postgraduate students. </p><p>Announcing the appointment, Prof Wim de Villiers, SU Rector and Vice-Chancellor, said the institution would greatly benefit from Jansen's expertise as foremost author, thought leader and education specialist. “Prof Jansen is arguably one of the leading pedagogues of our time, but also the proverbial voice in the wilderness, addressing not only the state of the nation, but – equally important – the state of education in our beloved country." </p><p>Prof Nico Koopman, Vice-Rector: Social Impact, Transformation and Personnel, added: “Prof Jansen is a scholar at heart. We are confident that his research expertise will have a meaningful social impact on all levels of the education system in South Africa."  </p><p>Equally pleased at the prospect of welcoming Prof Jansen to SU's Faculty of Education, Prof Yusef Waghid, acting dean of the Faculty, said: “Prof Jansen's appointment offers tremendous opportunities for colleagues to engage with him in deliberative, responsible and courageous conversations – dialogues relating to what a university is and ought to do. I am optimistic that Prof Jansen's intellectual voice and passion for education will have a positive impact on the scholarly work with which the Faculty is associated. This is another opportunity to enhance our quest for our quest for a meaningful and just schooling system" </p><p>Commented Jansen: “I am very excited about this opportunity to work at one of the best universities on the continent and with some of the leading educational researchers in the field. I do hope to make a small contribution with my colleagues to making research count in the transformation of schools and in preparing the next generation of scholars."</p><p>Jansen, a recipient of three honorary doctorates and a fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University in 2016/17, will take up the position at SU as from 1 November.​<br><br></p><p><strong>MORE ABOUT PROF JONATHAN JANSEN</strong></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Jonathan Jansen is a senior professor formerly associated with the University of the Free State, South Africa. Apart from having served as a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University in 2016/17, he is also the president of both the South African Institute of Race Relations and the South African Academy of Science.  </p><p style="text-align:justify;">He started his career as a biology teacher in the Cape after he had completed his science degree at the University of the Western Cape. He went on to obtain an MS degree from Cornell University and a PhD from Stanford. Jansen also holds honorary doctorates from the University of Edinburgh, the University of Vermont and Cleveland State University. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">In 2013, he was awarded the Lifetime Achiever Award for Africa at the Education Africa Global Awards in New York, as well as the University of California's Spendlove Award for his contribution to tolerance, democracy and human rights. The next year, he won the Nayef Al Rodhan Prize from the British Academy for the Social Sciences and Humanities<em> </em>for his book <em>Knowledge in the Blood</em> (published by Stanford University Press).  </p><p style="text-align:justify;">More recent publications by Jansen include <em>Leading for Change</em> (Routledge, 2016), <em>As by fire: the end of the South African university</em> (Tafelberg, 2017), <em>Interracial intimacies on campuses</em> (Bookstorm, 2017) and <em>Song for Sarah</em> (Bookstorm, 2017). Products of his pen to appear in 2018 include <em>Inequality in South African schools</em> (with Nic Spaull, published by Springer), <em>Politics of Curriculum</em> (as editor) and <em>Now that I know</em>, a book on South African families who were separated by the racial laws of the 1950s.<br></p><p><br></p>
Maties want to end student hunger with big collective initiative want to end student hunger with big collective initiativeCorporate Communications Division<p><strong> R10 million in 100</strong> days to create sustainable food banks on the Stellenbosch and Tygerberg campuses to ensure that, for the next three years, no Matie has to study on an empty stomach. This is the ambitious aim of Stellenbosch University's (SU) student-inspired <strong>#Move4Food</strong> drive, which will be launched today (20 August) and run until 27 November 2018, which is Giving Tuesday at SU.</p><p>Giving Tuesday has expanded from the United States in recent years to become a global day of giving.</p><p>Students, staff and alumni will engage in a wide range of peer to peer fundraising activities, like participating in the upcoming Sanlam Cape Town Marathon on 23 September 2018, to raise funds for the cause. Olympic Games silver medallist and SU alumna Elana Meyer challenged Maties rector and vice-chancellor Prof Wim de Villiers to take part in the race, and he accepted.</p><p>Earlier this year, De Villiers participated in the Cape Town Cycle Tour with alumni and friends of the University to raise money for student bursaries, and he is already practising hard for the marathon in September. He has previously run the 'Big 5' marathons – Boston, New York, London, Chicago and Berlin.</p><p>“One student that goes hungry on our campus is one too many," says De Villiers. “I am putting my time, energy and money into fighting student hunger – and I challenge staff, students, donors, alumni and friends of the University, as well as the general public, to do the same. Let's team up to help our students finish their race."</p><p>Over 60 runners have already signed up and 20 <a href="">fundraising pages</a> have been created. Among others, the SU Registrar, Dr Ronel Retief, have entered the 10km race.</p><p><strong>Launch event</strong></p><p>The launch event on Monday 20 August takes place on the Rooiplein on the Stellenbosch Campus. The event includes a mini-concert at 12:00 while a fundraising concert will take place in the Endler Hall in Victoria Street at 13:00. Entrance fee is anything between R10 and R100 or a non-perishable food item.<br></p><p><br> </p>Food insecurity prevalent food insecurity and the need for the most basic items are becoming more prevalent among students in South Africa. Despite perceptions that SU maintains a privileged position, at least 6 in every 100 newcomer students (first years and first-year postgraduate students) at SU are at risk. This translates into 465 newcomers (out of a total of 7744) – compounded by students in other years.<div><em><img class="ms-rtePosition-1" alt="Move4FoodGetInvolved.jpg" src="/english/PublishingImages/Lists/dualnews/My%20Items%20View/Move4FoodGetInvolved.jpg" style="margin:5px;width:450px;" /></em></div><p>“No student should be without food or basic needs," says Mr Ben Moolman, Student Representative Council member for Strategic Initiatives and Leadership Development. “We want to create a sustainable solution for students. Although the need goes far beyond food, this is now the most urgent need."</p><p>With the recent announcement of fee-free education, there is a general perception that students from working-class families receive financial support that covers all their university costs. “Not so," says Karen Bruns, Senior Director of Development and Alumni Relations. “There are caps on each expense component, like tuition, accommodation and food allowances. This results in shortfalls that the student is still liable for. The most pressing times for students are at the beginning of the year when students are still waiting for funding to be approved and just before final exams, when the food allowances dry up," she explains.  </p><ul><li><em>Those who want to support #Move4Food can sign up to run in the Cape Town marathon or make an online donation to the cause: </em><a href=""><em></em></a><em> </em></li><li><em>There are various other ways to #Move4Food as well, including virtual races, activity tracker challenges, sports days, commuting to work and making a cash donation. Visit </em><a href=""><em></em></a><em> for some fun suggestions.</em></li><li><em>Send an e-mail to </em><a href=""><em></em></a><em> for more information.</em></li></ul><p><em>  </em></p><p><strong>MORE ABOUT FOOD INSECURITY</strong></p><p>A recent study by the National Research Foundation has revealed that more than 30% of university students are food insecure. These findings were announced at the National Colloquium on Access to Food for Student, hosted in the Western Cape this week, seeking to find solutions to an emerging 'hunger crisis'.</p><p>Discussions centred on the effects that hunger plays in the student dropout rate. “If people are hungry‚ they cannot concentrate‚ they become stressed and anxious. A number of these students are working on top of studying and this‚ too‚ affects their academic performance," says Stephen Devereux of the National Research Foundation.</p><p><em>(Source: </em><a href=""><em></em></a><em>)</em></p><ul><li><strong>Click </strong><a href=""><strong>here</strong></a><strong> for an article on food insecurity<br><br>Picture: </strong><em>Elana Meyer challenges Maties rector to participate in the marathon </em></li></ul><p><em>  </em></p><p><br> </p>
Facilities Management launches new integrated workplace management system Management launches new integrated workplace management systemFacilities Management / Fasiliteitsbestuur<p>​<br></p><p>As part of an initiative to ensure that operations are optimised, governance improved and systems are integrated through better use of technology Stellenbosch University Facilities Management (SUFM) Division conducted a procurement process in 2016 and selected Planon' s Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS). As Planon's IWMS is used in more than 38 universities globally it is also an opportunity for SUFM to implement global best practice. </p><p>SUFM and other SU stakeholders have been developing Planon's IWMS modules of Maintenance, Projects and Sport Facilities Reservation Management.  We are now ready to go live and the scheduled date is 3 September 2018!   </p><p><strong> </strong></p><p><strong>The benefits of the IWMS</strong><strong> </strong></p><p>There are many benefits to SUFM and the University that will be realised through the implementation of the new system and the resulting changes in processes.</p><ul><li>Unified approach to dealing with Facilities Management work requests <br></li><li>Better integration and prioritisation of work requests</li><li>Better allocation of resources (funding, budgets and human resources)</li><li>More efficient and effective operational Facility Management processes</li><li>Improved stakeholder relations</li><li>Single source and storage of all work requests and access to original information</li><li>Common access point to all property portfolio information</li><li>Improved internal controls over maintenance and project management processes</li><li>Financial integration between the Maintenance module and Natural Adabas </li><li>Single sources of data for assets, spaces and people (employees and external workers i.e. consultants and contractors)</li></ul><p><strong> </strong></p><p><strong>What's new?</strong> </p><p>ALL maintenance service requests and other non-maintenance work requests will be logged on Planon, via the following mechanisms:</p><ul><li>The FM Service Desk (ext. 4666) or <a href=""></a> email address for maintenance requests</li><li>Planon' s request module available to registered users for logging Maintenance and Non-Maintenance Work Requests</li></ul><p>Registered users will be informed by the end of August of their permitted access and the link to Planon. These users, depending on their permitted authorisation, will be able to log Maintenance Service Requests or Non-Maintenance Work Requests separately. The latter includes Institutional Work Requests, such as new or upgrading of facilities. </p><p>The new method of logging requests will require financial authorisation by the designated cost centre owner prior to commencement of any work. The current program for registering of Small Capital Works (FBG115P) will no longer be available for new requests after August.</p><p>Open maintenance work orders, existing Small Capital Works requests and existing project requests as at the end of August, will be transferred to Planon. </p><p>Those people who have been identified as “Registered Users" will be contacted directly and will receive training before the end of August.<br></p><p><br></p><p><strong>Who to contact?</strong></p><p>The FM Service Desk can be contacted for normal works' enquiries on ext. 4666. <br><br></p><p>For Planon system enquiries only, please contact the following number: ext. x4655. This service will be available for September only.​<br></p><p><br></p>
Researcher receives national award for science communication receives national award for science communicationCorporate Communication / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie [Alec Basson]<p>​​​Dr Rehana Malgas-Enus, an emerging researcher in the Department of Chemistry and Polymer Science at Stellenbosch University, on Wednesday (26 September 2018) received an award from the National Research Foundation (NRF) for her outstanding contributions to public engagement with science and for making science and technology more accessible to the public. She was honoured with the Excellence in Science Engagement Award. The annual NRF Awards recognise and celebrate South African research excellence.<br></p><p>The Excellence in Science Engagement Award acknowledges researchers at South African universities and science councils who make exceptional contributions to public engagement and public understanding of science over a sustained period. It also encourages academics to help enhance the public's engagement and understanding of all the sciences (including technology, innovation, the social sciences, humanities and indigenous knowledge). </p><p>Malgas-Enus says she feel extremely honoured to have received this special award.</p><p>“I am humbled that they have recognised my efforts in this wonderful manner. I would also like to express my sincere gratitude towards my institution for recognising my contribution to outreach by nominating me for this special award. I am deeply grateful for their support and encouragement."</p><p>Passionate about science outreach, Malgas-Enus established the Stellenbosch University Chemistry Outreach Initiative (SUNCIO) which takes the science laboratory to underprivileged schools. </p><p>She does several public engagements per year, in the form of motivational talks to young girls, taking the “laboratory" to underprivileged schools in designated areas to promote science, articles in print media as well as radio interviews to make science more accessible to the general public. She has also designed four Practical Chemistry kits so that learners at schools that don't have a laboratory or resources, can easily do the prescribed physical sciences practical work in their classrooms. </p><p>In 2013, Malgas-Enus established the RME-NANO research group which focuses on the design and application of organic and inorganic nanoparticles in areas such as the treatment of wastewater and blood clotting. Apart from the NRF Award, Malgas-Enus also received the Claude Leon Lecturer Merit Award, the Rector's Award for General Performance and the CHEC (Cape Higher Education Consortium) Funding Award for Outreach.</p><p>She has published papers in leading journals in her field and also supervised and co-supervised master's and doctoral students.</p><p>Malgas-Enus says she would like to encourage her fellow emerging researchers to not only do world-class research but to also contribute to outreach in a manner which yields the greatest impact and can make a difference to communities.</p><p>At the same ceremony, Profs Michael Samways (Department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology) and Simon Schaaf (Department of Paediatrics and Child Health) obtained special awards for having received an A-rating from the NRF.</p><ul><li><strong>Photo</strong>: Dr Rehana Malgas-Enus (right) with Dr Therina Theron, Senior Director of SU's Division for Research Development, at the ceremony.<br></li></ul><p><br> </p>
FMHS researchers reveal pivotal work on managing TB, HIV researchers reveal pivotal work on managing TB, HIVKim Cloete<p style="text-align:justify;">Four researchers from the Desmond Tutu TB Centre (DTTC) at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS), Stellenbosch University, have recently graduated with PhDs after conducting research which holds valuable lessons for the way TB and HIV is managed in South Africa.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Sue-Ann Meehan's research followed her extensive experience in setting up mobile HIV testing clinics, where encouragingly a large number of men were tested for HIV. Meehan showed that men made up more than half of the over 180,000 people who visited the DTTC's mobile testing centres. Specially made tents and caravans were set up at taxi ranks and other easily accessible public places in and around Cape Town. Waiting times were significantly shorter at the mobile units than at clinics and many people who tested HIV-positive linked to clinics to start treatment.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Not everyone accesses clinics and so community-based HIV testing services have a vital role to play in finding and diagnosing those living with HIV," said Meehan.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">In his PhD research, Peter Bock, who co-leads a global study on HIV prevention, found that providing antiretroviral treatment (ART) to people with high CD4 counts resulted in a 63% reduction in the incidence of TB. However, he also found that a high proportion of people who received ART when their CD4 counts were high, did not continue taking ART.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“I hope to continue with meaningful HIV work. If my research can contribute to both local and global efforts against HIV, I would really value that. I'm very grateful for the opportunity to work in the HIV treatment field, which can lead to positive and groundbreaking health effects for people in communities," said Bock.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Rory Dunbar developed an operational model to explain why GeneXpert - a new molecular diagnostic test for TB - led to a 157% increase in cost, yet did not lead to an increase in the number of tuberculosis cases that were diagnosed. His research recommended that improving the systems at clinics as well as reducing the test costs would ensure that the test could be more affordable and lead to more TB cases being diagnosed.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Dunbar said it had been a tough but rewarding few years.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“It's been long hours grafting away to get a PhD, but I always remember the bigger picture - that I'm working to improve people's health and living conditions. I hope that my research will help policy makers as well as the Health Department to better strategize and implement diagnostics for TB in future."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Florian Marx's mathematical modelling work focused on detecting and preventing the transmission of TB among former TB patients. His research showed that focused interventions to detect and prevent tuberculosis among former TB patients could substantially reduce the transmission of TB in the entire local population.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Mariana Kruger, executive head of the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health at the FMHS, said the four researchers had done incredible work.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“The knowledge these four researchers have generated will tremendously benefit public health policy and programmes."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Kruger said it was very significant that four researchers from the same research centre graduated with PhD degrees at the same time. This was a real boost for the Desmond Tutu TB Centre as well as the faculty. She also credited former director of the DTTC, Nulda Beyers, who was the supervisor for all four graduates.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Nulda put tremendous effort into this. It's a mammoth task to supervise four PhDs at the same time and to have them all finish at the same time too."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Beyers, said it had been a privilege working with each one of them.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“It is fantastic to see how they have developed as young scientists, the way they can reason through science, and also very importantly, how they have developed as people. A PhD is not a doctorate in science. It's a doctorate in philosophy. So it's really about life."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Beyers said she hoped the benefits and challenges outlined in the research would be a priority for programme implementers in the Department of Health.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“This research could help advise how to manage TB and HIV. We have very good policies in South Africa, but this research will help to show how these policies can be implemented to benefit the diagnosis and treatment of TB and HIV."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Professors Kruger and Beyers applauded Stellenbosch University for providing financial support for Dunbar, a quadriplegic, to be able to travel to national and international meetings with an assistant. The university has also made the DTTC offices wheelchair-friendly and created a garden for Dunbar's worker dog, Vaughn.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“I am profoundly proud to be associated with a university that not only talks equality, but acts equality for disabled colleagues," Beyers said at the graduation ceremony in March.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The four graduates said they were looking forward to some free nights and weekends now that they have wrapped up their PhD studies, but would continue to reflect on the past few years.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Working at the DTTC has been a wonderfully supportive environment in which to do a PhD. The journey has been a mix of more highs than lows, a huge amount of hard work and determination…and a lot of chocolate," said Meehan.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;"><em>Caption: Members of the DTTC that recently received their PhDs, with their supervisor, Prof Nulda Beyers.</em><br></p>
Stellenbosch University Choir wins big in Wales University Choir wins big in Wales Corporate Communications Division<p>​The Stellenbosch University Choir made a clean sweep at the prestigious Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod in Wales, winning all three categories they participated in – Youth Choirs‚ Mixed Choirs and Open Choirs. The choir finished first in the Youth Choir category with a score of 95,5%, won Mixed Choirs with 90,3% and Open Choirs with 95%.​<br><br></p><p>André van der Merwe, the conductor of the SU Choir, was awarded the Jayne Davies Prize for Best Conductor at the Eisteddfod. <img src="/english/PublishingImages/Lists/dualnews/AllItems/SU%20Choir_André%20van%20der%20Merwe_Llangollen.jpg" alt="SU Choir_André van der Merwe_Llangollen.jpg" class="ms-rtePosition-1" style="margin:5px;width:245px;height:358px;" /><br></p><p>Van der Merwe says he is “incredibly proud of the choir's achievements in Wales. The true spirit of making music together has triumphed. The warm reactions of audiences to our music was really moving. I feel the artistic dimension of the choir has deepened because we could share the soul of South Africa on an international stage."</p><p>The International Musical Eisteddfod took place from 5 to 8 July. This festival yearly attracts around 50 000 visitors and 4 000 participants, including 150 choirs, from across the world. The SU Choir was one of only four choirs invited to perform in the <em>International Celebration Concert </em>in front of an audience of 2 000. This concert was the official opening of the Llangollen Eisteddfod and was broadcast on British TV. The SU Choir also took part in the colourful International Parade through Llangollen which sees the participating choirs walk through the city as representatives of their countries.</p><p>Following their visit to the UK, the choir heads for the 2018 Interkultur World Choir Games in Tshwane in which more than 300 choirs from across the world will participate. Because André van der Merwe is the chairperson of the artistic committee of the Choir Games, the choir is not allowed to take part in the competition. However, the SU Choir, which has been number one on the Interkultur ranking list of a 1 000 international choirs for the past five years, has been invited to perform as demonstration choir at the Choir Games.</p><ul><li>Tickets for the SU Choir's <em>Celebration Concert</em> at the Choir Games in the Universiteitsoord on 12 July is available through Nutickets: <a href=""></a> <br></li></ul><p><br></p>
December Graduation 2018 Graduation 2018Corporate Communication/ Korporatiewe Kommunikasie<p style="color:#333333;font-family:"noto sans", sans-serif;font-size:12px;background-color:#ffffff;">​The awarding of degrees, diplomas and certificates (including doctoral degrees and honorary doctorates) will take place in the Coetzenburg Centre at the Coetzenburg sport grounds from 10 - 14 December 2018.<br></p><div><br><strong>Graduates to arrive </strong><span style="text-decoration-line:underline;"><strong>two</strong></span><strong> hours before ceremony:</strong></div><p>Each ceremony will commence punctually at the time indicated in brackets below, but all candidates <strong>up to masters level</strong> must report at the pavilion of the Danie Craven Stadium <strong>TWO HOURS</strong> prior to the commencement of the ceremony, already in possession of their hired academic wear.</p><p><strong>Doctoral candidates: </strong></p><p>Doctoral candidates should report in the Barlow Room in the Jannie Marais homestead at Coetzenburg, 1½ hours prior to the commencement of the ceremony, also already in possession of their hired academic wear.</p><p><strong>Late arrivals cannot be accommodated: </strong></p><p>Candidates who arrive with or without their hired academic wear at the Coetzenburg Centre after the ceremony has commenced, will not be able to walk over the stage and their qualification will be awarded in absentia. Take possible flight delays, power outages, traffic congestion and parking time into consideration to ensure timeous arrival. </p><p> <strong>Official notice:</strong></p><ul><li><a href="/english/students/Documents/Graduation/December%202018/Kennisgewing%20Desember%202018_%20Eng_%20FINAL.pdf"><span><span style="text-decoration:underline;">Download the official notice </span></span>– </a>the notice contains essential information for all graduates and guests </li><li>Graduates will receive an e-mail notification regarding graduation at the end of October 2018</li><li>Programme and name lists of graduates will be uploaded early in December 2018 <br></li></ul>
High-level German delegation visits innovative HIV testing sites in Cape Town German delegation visits innovative HIV testing sites in Cape TownKim Cloete<p>​A top-level German delegation has had first-hand experience of the positive impact of community HIV testing during a visit to field sites operated by Stellenbosch University's Desmond Tutu TB Centre.</p><p>The 23-member delegation, led by Theresa Bauer, Minister of Science, Research and the Arts of the German state of Baden-Württemberg, visited such a community testing site where tents and caravans had been set up, so that people could swiftly get tested for HIV instead of going to a clinic.</p><p>The mobile testing forms part of an HIV prevention package delivered door-to-door as well as by mobile units in the community by Community HIV Care Providers (CHiPS), as part of the HPTN 071 (PopART) study. PopART is a research study that will determine the impact of a package of HIV prevention interventions on the incidence of HIV at a community level, involving a million people in 21 communities in South Africa and Zambia.</p><p>“The Desmond Tutu TB Centre was recommended to us as an extraordinary institution where research on pressing health questions is done in a very practice-oriented way to the direct benefit of society," said Bauer.</p><p>The delegation comprised mostly principals and rectors from Baden-Württemberg, which has the greatest concentration of universities and the most diverse higher education landscape in Germany.</p><p>The group was interested to hear about the experiences of Blia Yang and her CHiPS team when testing people for HIV in and around Cape Town. They were also encouraged to hear how counsellors follow up HIV-positive clients at their homes to help link them to care at clinics and to receive the antiretroviral treatment they need.</p><p>The delegation congratulated the field teams for their hard work in addressing the HIV epidemic.</p><p>“I am delighted that the delegation could see how people in communities are involved in and benefit directly from Stellenbosch University's research activities," said Prof Nulda Beyers, South Africa's principal researcher for the HPTN 071 (PopART) trial.</p><p>The visit to the HIV testing site formed part of the delegation's five-day visit to South Africa and Namibia. The group was particularly interested in the interconnections between science and research, as well as science and industry, with the focus on “living laboratories" in the fields of health, food security and social research.</p><p>“We learned that in South Africa this interaction between science and industry, including civil society, is achieved particularly well. This is why we chose to come to South Africa and to learn more about this network and exchange at institutes like the Desmond Tutu TB Centre," said Bauer.</p><p>The delegation also visited the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence for Biomedical TB Research at Stellenbosch University, as well as the Lynedoch Eco-village Initiative near Stellenbosch. </p><p>Professor Arnold van Zyl, President of the Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University, said the visit was an extremely valuable learning experience as university leaders could see how knowledge was closely combined with community health practice. He explained that this is unusual, since clinical and bio-medical work in other countries often take place far from one another.</p><p>The visit is expected to hold longer-term benefits.</p><p>“Our countries have a lot in common regarding excellent interdisciplinary research and academic education. Therefore, I am convinced that the personal encounters between the delegation from Baden-Württemberg and the partners in South Africa and Namibia will either initiate new contacts, or strengthen existing partnerships to the mutual benefit of all," said Bauer.</p><p>According to her interaction between Germany and its African partners is vital.</p><p>“Cooperating and integrating with African partners is essential if we want to make progress when confronting today's pressing global challenges."</p><p> </p><p><em>Caption: Members of a high-level German delegation take a look at one of the mobile HIV testing sites in Cape Town.</em></p>
Video: VC to #Move4Food in Cape Town Marathon VC to #Move4Food in Cape Town MarathonCorporate Communication / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie<p>​Earlier this year, Stellenbosch University (SU) Rector and Vice-Chancellor Prof Wim de Villiers completed the Cape Town Cycle Tour to raise money for student bursaries. Now he intends running the Cape Town Marathon on 23 September 2018 to fight student hunger on our campuses.<br></p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-embedcode ms-rte-embedil ms-rtestate-notify"><iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0"></iframe> </div><p>People using cell phones can click<a href=""> <strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-4">here </strong></a><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-4"> </strong>to watch the video<br></p><p>He is one of 110 staff members, alumni, students and friends of the University who have registered for various races hosted this weekend by the <a href="" target="_blank"><span>Sanlam Cape Town marathon</span></a> as part of SU's #Move4Food campaign.​<br></p><p>Prof De Villiers will be running the full marathon (42,2 km). He has created a fundraising page on the <a href="" target="_blank"><span style="text-decoration:underline;">GivenGain</span></a> platform, where he explains as follows:</p><p>“Why is this even necessary? Has the state not increased its funding to students? Yes, that's true, but not all students in need of support get it, and those who do often find it does not go far enough to cover meals and other living costs.</p><p>“A recent study by the National Research Foundation revealed that more than 30% of university students are food insecure. And this affects not only their academic results, but their fundamental human dignity.</p><p>“Students at SU decided to do something about it. They are creating food banks to ensure that none of their mates go to class on an empty stomach. Along with our Division for Development and Alumni Relations, they have launched a campaign to raise R10 million in 100 days to make it sustainable over three years. The campaign started on 20 August, and will conclude on Giving Tuesday, 27 November.</p><p>“The initiative is called #Move4Food, and it has my full support. I would greatly appreciate yours."</p><ul><li>To sponsor Prof de Villiers, please visit <a href="" target="_blank"><span style="text-decoration:underline;"></span></a> </li><li>To see all the #Move4Food fundraising projects created by students, staff members, alumni and friends of SU, please visit <a href="" target="_blank"><span style="text-decoration:underline;"></span></a> </li><li>For more information on Campus Giving Day, which forms part of this campaign, please <a href="/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=5936" target="_blank"><span style="text-decoration:underline;">click here</span></a></li></ul>