In Practice

Engaging surgeons among clinician-scientists

Ncedile Mankahla, T E Madiba, A G Fieggen


Since completion of the Human Genome Project at the turn of the century, there have been significant advances in genomic technologies together with genomics research. At the same time, the gap between biomedical discovery and clinical application has narrowed through translational medicine, so establishing the era of personalised medicine. In bridging these two disciplines, the clinician-scientist has become an integral part of modern practice. Surgeons and surgical diseases have been less represented than physicians and medical conditions among clinician-scientists and research. Here, we explore the possible reasons for this and propose strategies for moving forward. Discovery-driven personalised medicine is both the present and the future of clinical patient care worldwide, and South Africa is uniquely placed to build capacity for biomedical discovery in Africa. Diverse engagement across clinical disciplines, including surgery, is necessary in order to integrate modern medicine into a developing-world contextualised perspective.

Authors' affiliations

Ncedile Mankahla, Arthur and Sonia Labatt Brain Tumour Research Centre, Developmental and Stem Cell Biology, Hospital for SickKids, Toronto, Canada; Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, University of Toronto, Canada

T E Madiba, Emeritus Professor of Surgery and Senior Research Associate, Gastrointestinal Cancer Research Group, Department of Surgery, School of Clinical Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

A G Fieggen, Helen and Morris Mauberger Professor and Chair of Neurosurgery, Head, Department of Surgery, and Director, Neuroscience Institute, University of Cape Town and Groote Schuur Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa

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Cancer genomics; Non-communicable disease; Developing world; Translational research; Clinician-scientist

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2021;111(9):838-840.

Article History

Date submitted: 2021-09-02
Date published: 2021-09-02

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