Leading South African research centres join forces

Two world-famous health research centres in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, are joining forces in a bid to tackle HIV, TB and related diseases.

Fieldworker capturing data in the field in northern KwaZulu-Natal

Credit: Ben Gilbert, Wellcome Trust CC-BY-NC

Capturing data in the field in northern KwaZulu-Natal.

The new organisation, the Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI), is possible because of support from Wellcome and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI).

AHRI combines the: 

  • Africa Centre for Population Health’s detailed population data from over 100,000 participants 
  • KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for TB-HIV’s world-class facilities, and expertise in basic science and experimental medicine.

AHRI is committed to working towards the elimination of HIV and TB. Researchers want to develop new drugs and vaccines and understand how best to introduce these treatments to reduce infection and improve people's quality of life. Their ethos is ‘population to laboratory – and back to population’.

The founding of the new institute comes at a critical time. Despite advances in HIV therapy and many declaring that we are nearing ‘the end of AIDS’, HIV and TB remain devastating diseases. 

The province of KwaZulu-Natal has the highest HIV burden in South Africa. TB is responsible for more than 14% of deaths in the region. Doctors are also reporting the emergence of drug resistance strains of TB and HIV, which is a clear threat to public health.

Professor Deenan Pillay, Director of the Africa Centre for Population Health, and incoming Director of AHRI, said: "This is the one place in the world where the marrying of disciplines can have maximum impact on new HIV infections and TB transmission." 

AHRI has received a total investment of £51.4 million from Wellcome and HHMI. University College London and the University of KwaZulu-Natal are significant academic partners.

For more information, please read the AHRI press release