Wellcome CEO visits CIDRI-Africa during launch of Discovery Research Platform for Infection

26 Mar 2024
Caron Jacobs describing microscopy facilities to John-Arne Rottingen and Robert J Wilkinson
26 Mar 2024

The Centre for Infectious Diseases Research in Africa (CIDRI-Africa) at UCT was pleased to host Dr John-Arne Røttingen, CEO of the Wellcome Trust, over two days recently. This was the first visit to UCT by a head of Wellcome in 10 years.

On Friday 15th March, Dr Røttingen visited CIDRI-Africa’s clinical research facilities at Site B Community Health Centre in Khayelitsha. Here, he toured the clinic and interacted with the staff of various research projects. Clinic personnel presented on topics including the interaction between TB and diabetes, new medication regimens and vaccines for TB, research on drug resistant TB, Pneumocystis pneumonia, and the establishment and expansion of new research facilities in the Eastern Cape province.

Saturday the 16th of March saw the launch of the Discovery Research Platform for Infection at the Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine at UCT, one of eight new Wellcome-funded Discovery Research Platforms, and the only one outside the United Kingdom. The new Discovery Research Platform for Infection will be hosted by CIDRI-Africa and will take on gaps in our knowledge that hold back understanding of the interaction between infection and non-communicable diseases, and strengthen capacity to enable locally led, high-quality research studies to reduce infection, especially HIV-1 and tuberculosis.

“In South Africa, and on the continent of Africa as a whole, infections such as HIV-1, tuberculosis and respiratory tract infections are still amongst the leading causes of death. Although much progress has been made, it is crucial to build and sustain capacity to bring cutting edge discovery science to the countries that experience the greatest burden of these diseases,” said Robert J Wilkinson, Director of CIDRI-Africa.

“A key challenge area for Wellcome is infectious diseases and we are grateful to them for their confidence to resource our platform primarily to advance basic knowledge that we anticipate will translate into better care for our patients,” he continued.

During the launch event, Dr Røttingen and guests toured laboratory and imaging facilities supported by CIDRI-Africa; this was followed by a selection of talks by CIDRI-Africa Principal and Contributing Investigators that stimulated much discussion, engaging attendees into the afternoon.