The Children’s’ Heart Disease Research Unit (CHDRU) was established in May 2015 to facilitate current research activities in congenital and paediatric heart disease, and build capacity to support such research within the Department of Paediatrics and the Institute of Child Health. The CHDRU endeavours to serve as a platform to bring together researchers, communities and resources in advancing the campaign against paediatric and acquired heart disease on the African continent. The unit is based at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital under the auspices of the University of Cape Town and is directed by Professor Liesl Zühlke, a paediatric cardiologist and researcher.

The unit focuses on congenital heart disease (CHD), both in childhood and adulthood, acquired heart diseases such as rheumatic heart disease (RHD) and cardiomyopathies, as well as the increasing tide of the cardiovascular disease (CVD) burden. It addresses issues of national importance, such as non-communicable diseases (NCDs), while also focusing on preventable diseases such as RHD, maternal and childhood mortality as well as responding to social determinants of health.

    The unit’s vision is to integrate research and clinical practice to improve the lives of all with congenital and paediatric heart disease and its mission is to conduct innovative, patient-centred and accountable research with the focus on African areas of need.

    Core Values

    • Child and family-centred
    • Care and respectfulness
    • Striving for excellence
    • Responsibility, honesty and integrity
    • Multi-sectoral and interdisciplinary collaboration


    • Conduct, promote and support children’s heart research on the African continent
    • Facilitate implementation science
    • Provide postgraduate supervision and training in children’s heart research
    • To achieve the University of Cape Town’s minimum required standards to register as an independent unit



    Members of the CHDRU at the listen to my heart patient event held at Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital in February 2017