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2009/10/29 12:10:21 PM

The 10 student research teams from disciplines across the Faculty of Health Sciences were commended for producing research that was likely to influence health policy and development in South Africa at the recent Pfizer College of Health Sciences Young Scientists Research Symposium on the Westville campus.

Addressing students and academics at the annual Symposium which highlights the research work of final year students in the Health Sciences, Dean of Research at UKZN, Professor Cheryl Potgieter congratulated students for their contributions to knowledge production and hoped their participation in their year-long project would encourage them to pursue careers in research.

With sub-Saharan Africa producing only 1,4 percent of the world’s research output between 1997 and 2007 and South Africa achieving 51 738 publications, almost half of the United Kingdom’s publication achievement in a 12 month period, Professor Potgieter said the students’ findings contributed to overcoming the challenging situation facing research in the country.

Professor Potgieter who said she was struck by the interdisciplinary nature and span of research produced by the Faculty of Health Sciences said: “Your contribution changes the challenging situation we face in the production of scholarly research. By merely presenting your work at one of the top research-led Universities in the country you are winners and we are proud of what you have achieved. I hope to one day see this group (of students) as prominent researchers contributing to the Health Sciences.”

Adjudicators, Professor Marie-Louise Newell, Director of the Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies, Professor William Daniels, the Head of Medical Sciences at UKZN and Professor Girish Mody, a Professor of Rheumatology at the Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine awarded research in three categories.

Biokinetics Honours students at the Discipline of Sports Sciences, Ms Farzanah Desai and Ms Sumaya Abrahams were awarded in the Clinical Science category for their research on Acute Effects of Axial Loading on the Musculoskeletal System of Female Adolescents in Rural KwaZulu-Natal.

The Laboratory-based category went to a group of seven Pharmacy students for their research on: Pharmacological Effects of Schlerocarya Birrea (Family: Anacardiaceae) Leaf Aqueous Extracts on Rat Isolated Uterine Horns. Their research tested the pharmacological effects of the “marula” or Schlerocarya Birrea leave for the treatment of certain ailments including menstrual cramps or dysmenorrhoea. The group discovered using marula leaves in the treatment of dysmenorrhoea exacerbated the condition.

Winning the Community based Research category award were students from the Discipline of Occupational Therapy who investigated the Inclusion of Sexuality in Rehabilitation of the Spinal Cord Injured – Exploring the Woman’s Perspective.

In a message to participants, Professor Sabiha Essack, the Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences said: “Participants are congratulated on the months of intensive work that has culminated in today’s presentations. I am confident that the research process has reiterated the importance of life-long learning and has instilled in you the skills to become evidence-based practitioners.”

She expressed her gratitude to Pfizer for their support in creating a research platform for generating new knowledge “pertinent to South African and African healthcare contexts and that which showcased African scholarship.”

The winning teams qualify for participation in the Pfizer-UKZN Young Health Scientists National Research Symposium on October 21.


From left: Ms Charity Mlotshwa, Regulatory Affairs Manager, Pfizer South Africa; Ms FA Desai, student; Professor Sabiha Essack, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences and Ms S Abrahams, student.

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