Neuropsychiatric team

From left: Sr Gameda Benefeld, Ms Lerato Majara, Ms. Maryanne Mufford, Prof. Raj Ramesar, Ms Hannah-Ruth Engelbrecht, Dr Shareefa Dalvie and Dr Celia Van Der Merwe.

Although the primary interest for many years had been on ‘simple’ Mendelian disorders, which can easily be seen to pass from one generation to the next, today, the research in the Division of Human Genetics also focuses on more complex disorders, including; Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder (BD).

We have many exciting collaborations with other research groups, both nationally and internationally. These include long-running collaborations with the Department of Psychiatry (UCT) and the Division of Forensic Medicine (UCT) and a more recent collaboration with the University of Washington in Seattle, USA. Listed below are a few of our active studies:


  • “Schizophrenia in the South African Xhosa population”
  • "Determining underlying genetic causes of Schizophrenia in the South African population"
  • "Identification of common and rare genetic variants contributing to Schizophrenia in a South African population”
  • “ Investigation of the epidemiology, genetics and neurobiology of suicide  fatalities in Cape Town, South Africa”
  • “Association study of 9 genetic loci in research groups of

(i) Suicide completers and (ii) bipolar disorder patients, (iii) with and (iv) without suicidal ideation, in the Western Cape, South Africa.”


  • Presentation and risk factors in the psychobiology of psychosis.
  • Cortical inhibition and attentional modulation-a study of psychosis.
  • Neural correlates of deficits in affect regulation in methamphetamine abusers with a history of psychosis.
  • Analysis of genetic overlap in two psychiatric phenotypes
  • Identification and confirmation of novel variants associated with Bipolar Disorder from whole genome sequencing data.