Department of Medicine


The Department of Medicine is a large academic and clinical department which plays a leading role in undergraduate and postgraduate medical education and research. We provide clinical services to the communities of the Western Cape and, in the case of our highly specialised services, to patients throughout southern Africa.Based in Groote Schuur Hospital (GSH), the Department consists of 18 clinical divisions and 10 major research units, covering cardiology, ageing, leukaemia, lung infection, chronic diseases, porphyria, HIV and Immunology. We have a strong research ethic and a rising research output in both the basic and applied medical sciences.Our staff provide clinical care to patients in our principal teaching hospital, Groote Schuur Hospital, and in its associated regional hospitals: Somerset Hospital and Victoria Hospital, as well as in the UCT Private Academic Hospital.

The Department of Medicine at George Hospital is a satellite training unit of the department. Our expertise spans the full spectrum of internal medicine, including highly specialised areas such as renal, cardiac and liver transplantation.


The Department of Medicine comprises thirteen divisions and corresponding research units:

The Allergology Unit of the Department of Medicine provides a 24 hour referral service for complex allergic diseases, from the Groote Schuur hospitals, the day hospitals and from regional clinics, Victoria-, Somerset- and the maternity hospitals. A significant part of the clinical work done includes the investigation of patients with food allergies, angioedemas, drug allergies, occupational allergies (e.g. latex) and novel African indigenous allergies. This unit also offer teaching for 3rd and 5th year students, and postgraduate sub-specialist training.

The Division of Cardiology is the oldest dedicated clinical cardiology unit in sub-Saharan Africa. It has a rich history and tradition of delivering best-class clinical service, of teaching and training Africa’s leading cardiologists, as well as some international ones, and of making significant contributions and efforts to improve local national, and international cardiovascular health.

Research Unit: Cape Heart Institute 

Haematology is a diverse and exciting discipline which relates to diseases of the blood and bone marrow. Haematology encompasses the clinical care of patients, the diagnosis and research of haematological conditions, and teaching and training. The Division of Haematology is a teaching and training site for undergraduate students, registrars and fellows in Haematological Pathology and Clinical Haematology. 

Research Unit: UCT Leukaemia Unit

We strive to promote drug discovery and the rational and cost-effective use of medicines to serve the health needs of people in Africa through teaching, mentorship, research, and clinical consultation. We are a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Medicines Information.

Clinical Dermatology offers both inpatient and outpatient services, including a laser unit and phototherapy and Skin Day Care Unit. Teaching for 3rd, 4th, 5th year students in MBChB are offered, and postgraduate teaching takes place daily in the outpatient clinics and during inpatient consultations. There number of state funded registrar training posts in the Division of Dermatology is inadequate for the clinical load. We are privileged to train supernumerary registrars without whom we would not be able to meet our clinical service and teaching requirements. We have a united nations of Africa in the 4-year specialist training program with doctors from Chad, Botswana, Namibia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

This division provides a comprehensive inpatient and outpatient service and has close clinical links with paediatric endocrinology, reproductive endocrinology and chemical pathology. Teaching in Endocrinology to undergraduate 4thyear and 6th;year medical students, registrars in Internal Medicine and Senior Registrars in Endocrinology, as well as sub-specialist training in Endocrinology.

Research Unit: Chronic Diseases Initiative for Africa

General Internal Medicine forms the traditional “hub” of the Department of Medicine, stretching across four hospitals, Groote Schuur Hospital and its surrounding Regional/Large District Hospitals which provide specialist level care in the Metro West of Cape Town: New Somerset Hospital, Mitchells Plain Hospital and Victoria Hospital. George Hospital, a regional hospital 5 hours away also serves as a clinical service/training site. As such, the majority of in-patient beds within Medicine are allocated to General Internal Medicine and it forms the basis of much of the Department’s clinical work and provides the platform for much of the bedside undergraduate and postgraduate teaching within the Department

Geriatric Medicine offers innovative education and training programmes and opportunities to undergraduate medical students, registrars in internal medicine, and undergraduate and graduate research students in health sciences and social sciences. Our emphasis is on multi-disciplinary approach to management of medical, social and psychological needs of older persons.

Research Unit: The Albertina and Walter Sisulu Institute of Ageing in Africa (IAA)

The Division of Hepatology incorporates the General Liver, Liver Transplant and Porphyria Clinics; and inpatient liver and transplant services. The Division provides lectures on liver disease to undergraduate medical students in their clinical years. Furthermore, we provide teaching on liver disease and porphyria to Medical registrars, most of whom spend 3 months attached to our Division at some stage of their training and as well as the training of Hepatology and GIT Fellows.

Research Unit: Division of Hepatology Liver Laboratory

                         UCT Lennox Eales Porphyria Lab

The Division of Infectious Diseases and HIV Medicine offers inpatient and outpatient services at Groote Schuur Hospital, and outreach to UCT’s affiliated hospitals. The division has an international profile in clinical research, particularly in the fields of HIV, tuberculosis, antimicrobial resistance, and travel medicine. The Division leads policy development for infectious diseases and antimicrobial resistance strategy at the Provincial and National level.

Research Units: Desmond Tutu HIV Centre

                           TB Research Group

The Division of Lipidology provides clinical services mainly on an outpatient basis but does also offer a consultation service for inpatients with severe disorders of lipoprotein metabolism. Additionally the Division of Lipidology is engaged in clinical research including research on novel lipid-lowering and anti-atherosclerotic agents. The division also provides an ultrasonographic service for the determination of carotid intima media thickness (IMT). 

This division provides a scientific basis to Gastroenterology in Cape Town and beyond with the emphasis on clinical, para-clinical and basic research. Excellent Medico-surgical liaison remains one of the strengths of the unit. The unit is involved in teaching 3rd, 4th and 6th year medical students. In addition we are accredited for subspeciality training in Gastroenterology, which is currently a 3 year programme.

Recognising that our aim is to enhance the health and well-being of all those affected by genetic or partly genetic disorders in South Africa, the Division has an active teaching and research programme as well as acting as a national resource for health care professionals and the public and plays an active role is supporting the NHLS genetic diagnostic laboratory service. 

The Division provides a very active outpatient and consultative service, running busy outpatient clinics in hypertension (E17), "Under-10" (low clearance and immunosuppression) clinic, transplant follow up clinics, new renal patient clinic, HIV kidney disease clinics, adolescent clinic (E13), and general nephrology "nephritic" clinics in the OPD building. 

There is currently only one permanent sub-specialist training post for a senior registrar/fellow, the division is fortunate to be able to access regular funding for 2 or 3 other trainees at most times, as well as providing training to International Society for Nephrology (ISN) sponsored trainees (1-3 at a time), of whom many have completed there training here. Registrars in internal medicine rotate through the unit every 3 months.

Research Unit: UCT Kidney and Hypertension Research Unit.

The Division of Neurology is situated in Groote Schuur Hospital and operates a general clinical neurological service to the region. This includes in-patients, out-patients, an acute stroke unit, a clinical neurophysiology laboratory and a referral and emergency service. In addition, there are specialised clinics for stroke, myasthenia gravis, epilepsy, neuro-genetic disorders, dystonia, and HIV related neurological disorders.

The division supplies undergraduate medical teaching to years 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 MBChB students, in addition to teaching occupational therapy and physiotherapy students. Postgraduate teaching is given to MMed students and BSc(Hons), MSc(Neuroscience) and PhD students are supervised.

Clinical research is conducted in the fields of HIV/AIDS-related encephalopathy and peripheral nerve disease, myasthenia gravis, stroke and stroke care, Parkinson's disease, dementia, epilepsy, and motor neurone disease.

The Division of Occupational Medicine is a joint division of the School of Public Health and Family Medicine and the Department of Medicine of the University of Cape Town. Occupational Medicine is that branch of medicine concerned with the study, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease and ill-health attributable to work. Medical practitioners and patients can find details of our Occupational Medicine Clinic at Groote Schuur Hospital, one of the few referral clinics in the country offering specialist services in the diagnosis and management of occupational disease and hazardous workplace exposures.

Potential students will also find details of our postgraduate programmes. These include the MMed in Occupational Medicine aimed at training medical specialists in the registrable specialty of Occupational Medicine and the Diploma in Occupational Health (DOH), directed at medical graduates wishing to acquire competency in Occupational Health practice at primary care level.

The Division also offers research-related degrees including the MPhil and doctoral studies (PhD) in occupational health. It is a multidisciplinary health sciences speciality, drawing on a number of clinical disciplines, notably pulmonology, dermatology and musculoskeletal medicine, on the sciences of epidemiology and toxicology, and on an understanding of occupational hygiene, law and ethics as applied to workplaces. The Division of Occupational Medicine is a joint division of the School of Public Health and Family Medicine and the Department of Medicine of the University of Cape Town. The Division has clinical service, training and research functions.

The Division of Pulmonology has grown into a cutting edge clinically-orientated service at the forefront of internationally competitive research and academic leadership.  The Division has thus far trained ~40 internationally competitive sub-specialists over the last 40 years, several of whom are high ranking international faculty.  The Division of Pulmonology serves a spectrum of patients, including the indigent, refugees, and also those with private medical insurance who seek the expertise of members and services within the Division. 

The Division provides teaching and training to under-graduate students, is responsible for training general medical and pulmonology senior registrars, and there is also an active post-graduate programme in which several master’s and PhD students are enrolled. 

Research Units: South African Thoracic Society: 

                          UCT Lung Institute:

Musculoskeletal and rheumatic diseases are a major health problem due to their high prevalence, and their negative social and economic impact on patients and their communities. Resource constraints, and poor infrastructure magnify the burden of illness and disability, and endemic tuberculosis and HIV infections offer complex therapeutic challenges. The Rheumatology Division at Groote Schuur Hospital serves as a major tertiary referral center in the Western Cape, with outreach programs extending into the Eastern Cape. Our goal is to offer outstanding care to inpatients through well-organised outpatient clinics and meaningful inpatient services.

The Rheumatology unit is a training centre for undergraduate medical students, primary health care practitioners, nurses, allied healthcare practitioners, and postgraduate specialists-in-training physicians and rheumatologists from South Africa and elsewhere on the African continent. 

Rheumatology is committed to pursuing new clinical and basic science knowledge and translating these research findings into more effective diagnosis and treatment of patients with rheumatic and immunologic diseases.