Work has begun on a state-of-the-art Neuroscience Centre at Groote Schuur Hospital (GSH), which will be the hub for neuro-clinical disciplines at the hospital and University of Cape Town’s (UCT) neuroscience research programme.

The centre will be the physical home of the newly-established UCT Neuroscience Institute together with the GSH Clinical Neuroscience Centre, where researchers and clinicians will work together to treat mental and neurological disorders.

“UCT has invested in new interdisciplinary research institutes to address important problems facing our society,” said UCT Vice-Chancellor, Dr Max Price.

“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.”

The centre will be in the renovated J-block building at GSH, which was first built in 1938 and home to several research and clinical facilities over the years.

The building will be expanded and refurbished to offer specialised clinical neuroscience services, and to house the laboratories, lecture theatres and infrastructure of the Neuroscience Institute.

The institute will encompass key neuroscience disciplines, a neurosurgical innovation and skills laboratory, a human tissues repository (called a biobank) and attached laboratory, a state-of-the-art lecture theatre and other communal spaces, as well as direct access to the Cape University Body Imaging Centre (CUBIC).

“The Neuroscience Centre is built on clinical care, and academic research and teaching, through the Clinical Neuroscience Centre and the Neuroscience Institute, respectively. 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 Graham Fieggen.

The R125-million fundraising campaign for the Centre was led by the Director of the Neuroscience Institute and Head of Surgery and Neurosurgery at UCT, Prof Fieggen, and was made possible through the support of GSH CEO, Dr Bhavna Patel, Dr Price, and financial contributions from the Western Cape Government Department of Health, UCT alumni and philanthropic foundations.

“The Western Cape Government is extremely proud to be part of this wonderful initiative between the Department of Health and UCT,” said Western Cape Minister of Health, Nomafrench Mbombo.

“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,” concluded Minister Mbombo.

Construction on the Neuroscience Centre is expected to be completed in September 2019.

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