Business Day Live (09.27.12)
The University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, in partnership with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Maryland, United States, has constructed the KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for TB and HIV (K-Rith), a $40 million research institute to find better treatments for HIV and TB. South Africa has the third-highest TB burden in the world and the fifth-highest number of patients with drug-resistant TB. Also, the province of KwaZulu-Natal was hit worst by HIV, and the Eastern Cape has also been struggling with drug-resistant TB. K-Rith, located on the grounds of the university’s Nelson Mandela School of Medicine, is outfitted with state-of-the-art laboratory facilities. According to professor Phil Bishai, founding director of K-Rith, eight investigating scientists out of 10 were recruited to work in the institute and would be supported by clinical-studies support groups specializing in microbiology, immunology, and pharmacology. Dennis McKearin, Howard Hughes Medical Institute science officer, commented that the project was important as there was less research funding for TB than for many other diseases. Bishai noted that TB diagnostic methods are over 100 years old and the vaccines over 90 years old, so new tools and diagnostic measures are needed. He believed that the scientists and new technology at K-Rith hold the keys to new discoveries.