New Honorary Senior Lecturer in the Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

17 Aug 2017
17 Aug 2017

We are delighted to announce the appointment of Dr Lauren Franz, from Duke University in the USA, as Honorary Senior Lecturer in the Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

Dr Franz was born in South Africa and trained in Medicine at Stellenbosch University, before moving to the USA for training in Public Health, Psychiatry, Child & Adolesccent Psychiatry and Global Health. She is now a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Global Health at Duke University. Dr Franz’s research focuses on improving access to evidence-based treatment for neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism spectrum disorders, in sub-Saharan Africa and other low-resource settings. She is the recipient of an early career development award from the National Institutes of Mental Health to adapt and implement the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) intervention in South Africa. This work is being conducted with colleagues in the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Cape Town. ESDM is an early intervention with a strong developmental focus that can be used in children 12 to 60 months of age. It is a model that can be delivered in multiple ways: one-on-one with a therapist, through parent coaching, in a group pre-school setting, and through telehealth. ESDM strategies increase child motivation for social engagement and sensitize adult caregivers to child communication attempts. ESDM can promote the child’s social, cognitive, and language development.

Prof Petrus de Vries, Director of the Centre for Autism Research in Africa (CARA) in the Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry said: “We are delighted with the Honorary appointment for Dr Franz at UCT and we are very excited about the energy and skills she brings to the project and to Africa. She has, for instance, already trained the first two ESDM therapists in Africa! We are very much aware that we will never have enough expert therapists for every child with autism in Africa. In our joint project with Duke and the Duke Global Health Institute (DGHI), we are therefore focusing on adaptations of this early intervention on parent coaching and group-based approaches that will have real potential to be scaled-up in our local context”.

For further information, please contact Prof Petrus J de Vries ( or Rehana Effendi (