New brain centre planned for hospital

Dr Keith Cloete, Professor Dan Stein, Professor Graham Fieggen, Professor Bongani Mayosi, Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, Dr Max Price, Dr Bhavna Patel and Professor Gregory Hussey.

Work has started on a multi-million rand state-of-the-art neuroscience Centre at Groote Schuur Hospital, where researchers and clinicians will work together to treat brain and nervous system disorders.

On Tuesday June 12, UCT and the provincial government broke ground on the centre which will be the physical home of the newly-established UCT Neuroscience Institute together with the GSH Clinical Neuroscience Centre.

Outgoing UCT vice-chancellor Dr Max Price said they had invested in new interdisciplinary research institutes to address important problems facing society.

“The Neuroscience Institute is one of these – advancing medical care while helping to understand the human brain. Doing so in an African context gives us a unique opportunity to solve local problems, contribute to knowledge and build capacity in a fast-moving area of scholarship,” he said.

A R125-million fund-raising campaign for the centre was led by the director of the Neuroscience Institute and head of surgery and neurosurgery at UCT, Professor Graham Fieggen, and was made possible through the support of Groote Schuur Hospital CEO Dr Bhavna Patel, Dr Price, and financial contributions from the provincial Department of Health, UCT alumni and philanthropic foundations.

The centre will bring together clinicians and researchers from a wide range of specialties to study and treat central nervous system infection and trauma, neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disease, and other prevalent mental and neurological health problems.

“We are fortunate to have tremendous strength in the areas of neurosurgery, neurology, psychiatry and psychology, and now we have a unique opportunity to bring these and other specialties together to improve treatment and advance our understanding of the brain,” said Professor Fieggen.

Provincial Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo said she was proud to be part of the initiative.

“This is a big step towards improving healthcare for all in the Western Cape. I want to thank all the donors who made it
possible for us to commence construction.”

The centre grew out of consultation between the hospital, the Department of Health, Department of Transport and Public Works, Heritage Western Cape and the Faculty of Health Sciences at UCT.

An ideal site for the centre was identified in the J-block building at Groote Schuur Hospital, built
in 1938 and home to several research and clinical facilities over the years.

The building will be expanded and refurbished.