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Professor Dlamini joins Genomic Medicine Think Tank

By in Education, Research, Policy on July 27, 2016

MUT’s Professor Zodwa Dlamini’s Genetics expertise has landed her another important national appointment by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) Ministry to serve on the “National Genomic and Precision (personalized) Medicine Think Tank.”. This is a very prestigious call and brings new beginnings for MUT’s stature.

Professor Dlamini said: “It’s always a pleasure for me to serve my country. I am very honoured to be appointed by the DST Ministry to this prestigious and groundbreaking national think tank and I am looking forward to making a contribution to a subject that is close to my heart “multidisciplinary collaborations in genomic and precision medicine to fight against non-communicable diseases in South Africa.” She said that Genomic medicine is “an emerging medical discipline that involves using genomic information about an individual as part of their clinical care (e.g., for diagnostic or therapeutic decision-making) and the health outcomes and policy implications of that clinical use.” Precision medicine is “an emerging approach for disease treatment and prevention that takes into account individual variability in genes, environment, and lifestyle for each person. While some advances in precision medicine have been made, the practice is not currently in use for most diseases,” Professor Dlamini explained.

Genomic research forms the basis of genomic and precision medicine and is a new research area that is being pursued. The development of a genomic and precision medicine research programme has been identified as part of the implementation of the Bioeconomy Strategy. This new generation of cutting edge research will utilise genomic information to develop more appropriate treatments applicable to the genetic makeup of the South African population.  A large portion of the work will look into pharmacogenetics (the determination of the effectiveness of treatments and design of tailored type and dosage of drugs for a specific phenotype) within targeted populations.  The development of new genetic based diagnostics and biologics, especially for non-communicable diseases are also central to this Precision medicine Initiative.

The Genomic and Precision Medicine Think tank will advise the DST to facilitate an effective management of the Genomic and Precision medicine initiative.  The Committee will review existing work on Genomic medicine and also assist with coordination of future investments in this field. The committee will identify the resources required to meet the various objectives of the initiative; team-people, capital equipment, materials and skills.