University Of Cape Town Neuroscience
The brain is the final frontier in our understanding of the human body; the most challenging aspect of human physiology to understand and treat. Finding ways to treat brain injury, prevent diseases that affect the brain and nervous system, and limit mental deterioration and disorders are some of modern medicine’s most pressing challenges. They are also exciting opportunities to pursue important research that makes a real difference to the health and well-being of people everywhere.
The University of Cape Town’s Neuroscience Institute brings various fields of basic research in brain disease and disorders together with clinical practice under one roof. By connecting psychology, genetics, neurosurgery, and everything in between, the Neuroscience Institute provides African solutions to local and global problems. Through building infrastructure and investing in people, the Institute is growing a community of excellence in neuroscience research and practice.
The Institute is pioneering a translational research approach, aiming to connect experts in clinics and laboratories for real-world impact. These researchers study South African challenges where their work can have the most impact: infections like HIV and TB, brain injury caused by trauma or drug abuse, and neurological development and degeneration. The overall vision is to create a vibrant multidisciplinary environment that promotes spontaneous contact among otherwise disconnected clinical and research groups, to inspire innovative and cutting-edge clinical service, research, and teaching – the flagship institution for Neuroscience in our country, and the first of its kind on our continent.
The Institute builds on a long history of research and clinical excellence at UCT, Groote Schuur Hospital, and other affiliated medical facilities. Founding research groups at UCT include the Division of Neurosurgery, Division of Neurology, Division of Paediatric Neurology, Division of Paediatric Neurodevelopment, Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health, Department of Psychology, and Department of Human Biology. Other involved groups include units at UCT such as the Brain and Behavior Unit (comprising the Psychiatric Neuroimaging Group, the Psychiatric Genetic Group, and the Translational Neuroscience Group), the HIV Mental Health Research Unit, the UCT/SU MRC Unit on Risk & Resilience in Mental Disorders and the Neurology Research Group (NRG). Additional infrastructure has been created through NRF/ SARCHI Chairs in Clinical Neuroscience and Neuroimaging.
The Neuroscience Institute broke ground on its new building, the Neuroscience Centre in partnership with Groote Schuur Hospital, in 2018. The building will house a state-of-the-art Neurosurgical Innovation laboratory, clinical and training spaces, and an innovation space where diverse research groups can connect. The Institute will serve as a hub for neuroscience in all its forms, across various research groups and clinical sites around Cape Town, South Africa, and Africa. The Institute will also create and curate Africa’s first biobank for brain and blood samples from clinics; this centralized resource will provide laboratories with critical modern-day research materials, allowing for cutting-edge research with immediate clinical relevance.
The Institute prioritizes training and capacity development, especially in underrepresented populations. To this end, a Neuroscience Honours program will start at the University of Cape Town in 2019, introducing graduates from diverse backgrounds to the basics of neuroscientific research so that they can further specialize at the Institute.
Both the Neuroscience Centre and the Neuroscience Institute are made possible through generous financial contributions from the Western Cape Government, UCT alumni, and several philanthropic foundations. Fundraising is ongoing, aiming to grow neuroscience research facilities, build human capacity in neuroscience research, and support new and existing research projects.
To donate to the Neuroscience Institute, learn more about the research being done, or apply to study at the Institute, follow the links below.
Postgraduate Admissions Officer: Faculty of Health Sciences
021 406 6340
Media Liaison: Communication and Marketing Department
021 650 5674