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AstraZeneca extends its Research Fund Programme, to strengthen local research

AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals Awards seven New Grants for Medical Research in South Africa and commits to extend its Research Fund Programme for another three years.

November 2017

Critically aware of the increasing health challenges in South Africa and the need for quality scientific data to properly manage and treat potentially life-threatening illnesses, the AstraZeneca Research Fund has awarded another seven local grants for the 2016/2017 year. During its three years in operation the Fund has disbursed R4.5 million for medical research funding, stimulating local research interest and strengthening South Africa’s medical research capability to solve the local challenges.

The academic research grants are conferred for high level studies, including doctoral and post-doctoral work. The independent Scientific Review Committee, consisting of highly respected academics from various South African institutions, screen, review and decide on the apportionment of the funding. AstraZeneca has no influence in any decisions made regarding the fund allocation, which is done at the sole discretion of the senior academics who are members of the Scientific Review Committee. With over a hundred applications received this year, all worthy of consideration, the Committee has been severely challenged in narrowing down the final selections.

To date, the innovative partnership has awarded funding to 25 studies, including the 7 study grants awarded for the 2016/2017 year. The 2016/2017 researchers, who have been successful in their applications, represent five academic institutions, including the University of Witwatersrand, University of Cape Town, University of Pretoria, University of the Free State and Stellenbosch University. A diverse spectrum of research projects has been approved to investigate the pathophysiological mechanisms responsible for inherited disease, cardiovascular disease, cardiometabolic disease, breast cancer and lung cancer. Researchers are striving to better understand the disease genetics of South African populations to develop biomarkers and prognostic markers for improved disease diagnosis and clinical management.

Speaking at the Research Fund Award Ceremony in Johannesburg, Rodney Gillespie, AstraZeneca Country President, announced AstraZeneca’s commitment to continue its investment in scientific research in South Africa through the extension of the Research Fund initiative for another 3 years. “At AstraZeneca we believe in the potential of science. Our investment in scientific innovation through the Research Fund is a demonstration of our commitment to partner with local academia and communities to generate much needed current and accurate data. This will provide line of sight of the extent of the healthcare challenges in South Africa. ”

Scientific Review Committee member, Professor Saraladevi Naicker commended AstraZeneca for pioneering this innovative initiative in Africa. Commenting on the selection of research projects by the independent committee, she says “With a significant proportion of research funding in South Africa allocated to HIV infection and TB, there has been little investment in non-communicable diseases. The Committee focused on awarding funds to research projects that will generate much needed data in this area. Of equal importance for us is supporting and enabling young researchers in completing their higher degrees (masters and doctoral) research projects and setting them firmly on their career paths.”

AstraZeneca anticipates that the Research Fund Grants will help to address the huge area of unmet health needs, ensuring the reprioritisation of healthcare initiatives and reshaping the healthcare landscape. “We want to be part of the data generation process and we want to be part of the solution,” says Gillespie.

This initiative is supported unconditionally by AstraZeneca. Further information can be found at: www.astrazenecaresearchfund.co.za

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AstraZeneca is a global, innovation-driven biopharmaceutical business that focuses on the discovery, development and commercialisation of prescription medicines, primarily for the treatment of cardiovascular, metabolic, respiratory, inflammation, autoimmune, oncology, infection and neuroscience diseases. AstraZeneca operates in over 100 countries and its innovative medicines are used by millions of patients worldwide. For more information please visit www.astrazeneca.co.za .
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COR0318001 Date of preparation: November 2017 Date of expiry: March 2019