The Neuroscience Institute (NI) is the first of its kind in Africa. Our vision is of an Africa where people achieve their full potential through brain health.
The brain is the most challenging aspect of human physiology and is the final frontier in our understanding of the human body. Finding ways to treat brain injury, prevent diseases which affect the brain and nervous system, and limit mental deterioration and disorders are some of modern medicine’s most pressing challenges.
This is particularly true in understudied low- and middle-income African countries where the prevalence of traumatic brain injury and diseases such as HIV and tuberculosis is high, and where the consequences of these conditions are dire.
Based in a world-class facility at the University of Cape Town (UCT), our interdisciplinary and international network of scientists, clinicians, students and civil society stakeholders uses research and innovation, training and capacity development, and advocacy and engagement to develop the knowledge, skills and expertise needed to help understand the human brain and advance healthcare in the African context.
Research and innovation
By addressing existing knowledge gaps through research and innovation, and by strengthening African research networks, we seek solutions to African challenges and work to ensure that African priorities are represented in global neuroscience.
We focus largely on understanding brain health, brain injury, brain infection, and non-communicable diseases, considering conditions from before birth, through childhood and into adulthood.
To do this we bring together expertise from the full spectrum of basic and clinical neuroscience, and support a critical mass of scholars with access to unique patient populations and state-of-the-art research methodologies such as neurophysiology, neuroimaging and neurogenomics.
Arguably one of our most important objectives is to develop African scholarship and research infrastructure, and to increase Africa’s neuroscience workforce.
Through our unique honours program, and by supervising masters and PhD students, mentoring early- and mid-career researchers, delivering workshops and open online courses within and beyond UCT, and promoting a supportive research culture, we work to build research capacity locally and regionally, and grow the next generation of neuroscience researchers on both the clinical and basic neuroscience career tracks.
While the determinants of brain diseases and disorders are often societal ills, such as poverty and attendant risks coupled with limited access to healthcare, we are fortunate to have an abundance of opportunities to make meaningful differences in people’s lives.
We follow a socially-responsive approach, using advocacy, engagement and outreach to extend our impact to and beyond the scientific community, to industry, government and society more broadly. We work to promote brain health as a component of overall health, develop public understanding of the brain, advocate for patients with neurological and mental disorders, and raise awareness among key stakeholders of strategies for reducing brain diseases.
Through our endeavours overall we aim to increase the global visibility of African neuroscience, and boost the participation of African neuroscientists in the field internationally.