UKZN Psychiatrist Wins Research Award

Psychiatrist and PhD candidate, Dr Vuyokazi Ntlantsana has won the Schizophrenia International Research Society (SIRS) 2021 Research Fund Award.

SIRS is committed to directly supporting early career researchers who have important and novel ideas that may have an immediate impact on improving the lives of people with schizophrenia.

The SIRS Research Fund Award provides research funds for junior investigators who have an important idea or hypothesis to test but lack research funds to do so.

Ntlantsana’s proposal, titled: A Pilot Study of Brief Relaxation, Education and Trauma Healing (BREATHE) in patients with first episode psychosis and post-traumatic stress disorder, was the ideal project for SIRS as it has great potential for “societal impact”.

‘The award has enabled me to culturally adapt and pilot BREATHE in patients with first episode psychosis and post-traumatic stress disorder. This intervention brings new hope for improved outcomes in patients with early psychosis,’ said Ntlantsana.

She highlighted the important role played by her various supervisors, especially Professor Bonga Chiliza, who instilled in her a love for research. ‘I feel really privileged to have been chosen by SIRS as I am sure I was among many worthy candidates. It would be remiss of me not to acknowledge Professor Chiliza, who encouraged me to apply for this opportunity. With many previous grant rejections, I was pessimistic about a successful outcome, especially as there was only one grant. From this experience I have learned to never give up and to reach for your dreams,’ said Ntlantsana.

Chair of the Awards Committee, Ms Sohee Park, believes Ntlantsana’s research will introduce a culturally appropriate behavioural tool to ameliorate disability caused by trauma and psychosis. This approach could pave the way towards developing strategies that are uniquely suited for local communities. Park wished Ntlantsana great success in the coming year.

Having completing her Master of Medical Science degree in the Discipline of Obstetrics, her goal now is to complete her PhD in the Discipline of Psychiatry. She thanked SIRS for their funding.

Words: Mandisa Shozi

Photograph: Supplied