UKZN’s School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences hosted a Neuroscience symposium which brought together academics, researchers and postgraduate students.
Neuroscience is the multidisciplinary study of the structure and function of the nervous system. Much remains to be known in this field and it is a rich area for research and knowledge. Furthermore, the stigma attached to mental and neurological disorders can be remedied by information and education. Africa carries a large and growing burden of these illnesses, calling for homegrown solutions.
Opening the symposium, Dean and Head of School Professor Musa Mabandla highlighted the need for succession and mentoring in research. ‘How is my research contributing to society? Am I inspiring young researchers to value human pathology and human science research and consider these as a career? These are the questions we should be asking ourselves,’ he said.
Guest speaker and Head of the Psychiatry Discipline at UKZN, Professor Bonga Chiliza focused on the etiology of schizophrenia, detailing the challenges that clinicians encounter when treating schizophrenia patients.
‘Research has shown that most psychosis disorders are associated with childhood trauma; therefore the importance of early intervention when teenagers shows signs of schizophrenia can never be over-emphasised,’ said Chiliza.
Dr Thabisile Mpofana, who chaired the symposium, noted that the nervous system is very complex as it deals with communication in the body. Disturbances to this system have the potential to affect other systems; hence, understanding it could improve the quality of life. Growing interest in Neuroscience is largely due to the upsurge in mental illnesses. Scientists and clinicians alike are interested in knowing what occurs in the nervous system to cause these disorders in order to come up with effective treatment strategies and to educate the community at large.
UKZN’s Neuroscience Group is involved in numerous research projects on brain disorders and the symposium was an ideal platform to share their research and provide an update on their current findings. The group also used this opportunity to invite fellow UKZN researchers who do similar work to share their research findings. This will open up opportunities for collaboration and partnerships as Neuroscience is connected to many other fields.
Biotech companies, Anatech and AEC Amersham generously sponsored the event.
Words: Lihle Sosibo