The StatinTB team hosted an opening ceremony for the GMGH Research Center on World Heart Day 2021

The General Medicine & Global Health (GMGH) research group was established as a collaboration between the Cape Town Heart Institute of the University of Cape Town and the Department of International Medicine of the University Hospital Zurich/University Zurich in 2019 by Associate Professor Friedrich Thienemann, Principal Investigator, StatinTB.

The group, which conducts the StatinTB study, is now managed by Prof Thienemann together with Dr Sandra Mukasa, of the University of Cape Town (UCT.) Last September, amidst a strict countrywide lockdown in South Africa, the group moved into new facilities in Kensington, in central Cape Town.

The facility, which had previously been used for after-school community activities, was more or less empty when the GMGH research group took over the space. Adapting the rooms to the group’s needs and acquiring all necessary equipment meant significant work, made even more difficult due to the ongoing lockdown.

“Dr Mukasa did a tremendous job, getting the facilities fit for purpose while lockdowns and travel restrictions hindered other members of our team from going to the new space and help,” says Prof Thienemann.

Today, the facility includes a room for taking vital signs, a phlebotomy room, a room where spirometry is conducted, a consenting room, a consulting room, and a waiting room. The equipment for the new facility was funded by the University of Zurich.

Opening Ceremony on World Heart Day 2021

The GMGH research group now sits in the same building as the Cape Town Heart Institute, which organized a public event on World Heart Day, September 29, this year. The GMGH research group docked on to their event and, one year after they began operating out of the new centre, were finally able to host its opening ceremony.

The GMGH research group’s centre in Kensington offers the StatinTB team many advantages. The central location allows the recruitment team to increase its uptake area, recruiting from six tuberculosis (TB) clinics in different regions of Cape Town.

A severe drop in TB notification rates as a result of the ongoing pandemic has put an extra strain on TB clinical trials, making it more difficult to enrol patients in these studies. For this reason, the possibility to recruit from across Cape Town is key to the StatinTB team, which was forced to amend its recruitment strategy amidst the height of the COVID-19 pandemic (read more about this achievement here). Patients at the local TB clinics that the study is collaborating with who are considered likely to be eligible for the study are collected at their clinic and driven to the GMGH Research Centre in Kensington for screening.

Wrapping up, the new GMGH research centre is an important step for the group in the direction of becoming one of the established key TB clinical research teams in Cape Town, supporting StatinTB’s recruitment efforts. For updates on the group’s work, follow the GMGH team on Twitter.

The GMGH group’s research centre has been stocked up to meet the needs of the StatinTB study.
From the left: Ass. Prof. Reto Guler (StatinTB Coordinator), Dr. Sandra Mukasa (StatinTB Local Principal Investigator), and Ass. Prof. Friedrich Thienemann (StatinTB Principal Investigator)
Almost one year after the GMGH group began operating out of their new facilities, they could finally host the opening ceremony on World Heart Day, September 29, 2021.