Sanford Health’s international healthcare arm, Sanford World Clinic, has partnered with Stellenbosch University’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences to support the ongoing development of clinical research and educational programmes in Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD).

Sanford Health’s partnership with the South African institution is one of seven global collaborations designed to foster partnership with healthcare leaders in the development of sustainable services around the world.

As part of the new partnership, Stellenbosch University’s Department of Psychiatry has received an endowment from Sanford Health for a research fellowship in FASD. The fellowship, called the Sanford Hoyme Research Programme in FASD, will support a research fellowship to undertake clinical and genetic research in the prevention and treatment of FASD.

The fellowship is named after the Dr Gene Hoyme, the Chief of Genetics and Genomic Medicine and Chief Academic Officer for Sanford Health. He has led FASD research studies in South Africa for the past 15 years and helped establish the prevalence rate of FASD in South Africa, which remains the highest documented rate in the world.

“This research partnership with Stellenbosch University has been revolutionary in terms of our understanding of this condition. Not only in terms of helping define the extent of the problem here in South Africa, but also in terms of knowing how to make a diagnosis quickly and accurately and a lot of the science around that,” said Dr Hoyme during the unveiling of a plaque in the Department of Psychiatry to acknowledge the sponsors of the fellowship.

Dr Hoyme has collaborated with Head of the Department of Psychiatry at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Prof Soraya Seedat, on FASD research since 2008. This department has an established research programme in FASD and Hoyme has been the chief dysmorphologist on a series of successive studies in the Western Cape funded by the National Institutes of Health in the US.

“The endowment will allow for the appointment of a talented early career research fellow, in perpetuity, who will be closely mentored by Dr Hoyme,” said Prof Seedat.

“The FASD research team is also very excited about the possibility of establishing a Research Chair in FASD in the near future, to sustain and expand much needed interventional and predictive-diagnostic research in this area,” concluded Prof Seedat.

Stanford Health will also partner with New Zealand, Ireland, Vietnam and Costa Rica and increase its presence in China and Ghana. Each partnership is unique in terms of scope of service and type of agreement. The focus of the collaborations range from primary and paediatric care to research and health system operations. More information on these other partnerships can be found here.

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