Department of Pathology


The department of Pathology provides a comprehensive Pathology service to the Western Cape and South Africa, and undertakes basic & applied scientific research aimed at understanding mechanisms, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diseases.  It contributes to training of undergraduate medical students, and has a large post-graduate teaching and training programme.  

The department is the academic home for the Institute of Infectious Diseases and Molecular Medicine (IDM) .

The department also hosts the Pathology Learning Centre which holds an extraordinary collection of teaching specimens that have been accumulated over more than 80 years. The collection has been digitised to provide a learning resource for health sciences students everywhere, but it is especially relevant for those studying at institutions in Africa


The department of Pathology at the University of Cape Town is a large academic department comprising eight divisions.

The division of Anatomical Pathology has both diagnostic and academic components.  The diagnostic laboratories form part of the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) complex at Groote Schuur and Red Cross War Memorial Children’s hospitals.  

The Diagnostic laboratories are at both sites and provide a diagnostic surgical pathology, cytopathology and autopsy services to GSH, the academic hospital complex and associated hospitals and clinics in the Western Cape. The division also serves as a public and private tertiary referral and consultation centre for Anatomical Pathology.

Chemical Pathology (also known as Clinical Biochemistry/Clinical Chemistry) is the study of the biochemical basis of disease, and the application of biochemical and molecular techniques in diagnosis. An allied subspecialty of Chemical Pathology is Metabolic Medicine which deals with metabolic disease in all its manifestations. The division is involved in teaching at undergraduate and postgraduate levels and provides diagnostic laboratory services for Groote Schuur Hospital. It has several internationally recognized research groups.

The division of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology offers services in the medico-legal investigations of unnatural deaths, teaching and research into various areas, including childhood deaths, the role of drugs in death, molecular autopsies in sudden unexpected deaths, violence and trauma, post-mortem interval determination and human identification.

Research Unit: Gender Health and Justice Research Unit

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. 

The division of Human Genetics provide a comprehensive and efficient medical genetic service, ranging from primary health care in community outreach clinics to highly sophisticated quaternary services. The division also provides teaching in medical genetics, which is relevant to the South African situation, to all groups from community health workers to postgraduate scientists, and give emphasis to the genetic problems of pregnant mothers and young children in line with the Minister of Health’s stated policy. The categories of heritable disorders which cause childhood handicap include blindness, crippling, profound deafness and mental retardation.

The division of Immunology is world-recognised and is involved in a range of activities, from basic and applied research, with a focus on identifying immune mechanisms to various communicable and non-communicable diseases, to under- and post-graduate teaching, and to diagnostic testing and histocompatibility services. A particular strength and ongoing goal of the division is to forge and maintain strong links between basic and clinical immunology, so that a bidirectional and translational approach – from mouse to human and human back to mouse – can provide us with a unique angle for understanding disease and pathologies in Africa.


The division of Medical Microbiology engages in a broad range of inter-related and multi-disciplinary activities. We provide state-of-the-art microbiology diagnostic services to the Groote Schuur/ Red Cross Children's Hospital academic centre, conduct cutting-edge research into high burden infectious diseases and have an active undergraduate and postgraduate training programme. In addition, we serve as clinical consultation service for infectious diseases.

The division of Medical Virology contributes to the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and eradication of viral diseases in South Africa through a diagnostic laboratory service together with a dynamic research and teaching programme.