South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC)
Building a healthy nation through research and innovation


Research Capacity Development


Early Career Scientists 2016

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Scholarships and Grants 

Dr Thabi MaitinDivision Manager: Dr Thabi Maitin
Email:, Tel: +27 21 938 0891

The core business of the Division of Research Capacity Development (RCD) is to build health research capacity by providing and administering scholarships to SA citizens studying towards their Masters and PhDs in Medical and Health Sciences. Additionally, health research capacity is augmented by providing funding support to Post-doctoral candidates. Further, RCD drives the President's five-year initiative of SAMRC Research Strengthening and Capacity Development in selected South African Universities which previously did not have access to adequate resources. All applications for funding are put through a rigorous review process to ensure that the best candidates and or research projects receive funding. Prospective applicants for scholarships must be registered for the degree that they seek funding for.


The National Health Scholars Programme (NHSP) is an initiative of the National Health Research Committee (NHRC). The NHSP is funded by the Public Health Enhancement Fund (PHEF) under the auspices of the National Department of Health (NDoH)

There is no set amount of scholarship value. The scholarship value  is determined by establishing how much the SA Government would pay the candidate if they were full time employed with the qualifications they currently hold. Thus the scholarship value  is equivalent to the after-tax take-home pay of the candidate, based on the salary scales of the relevant post (or equivalent) in the National Department of Health.

Eligible candidates: the priority is to focus on professions in which research skills are scarce or still being developed such as Biostatistics, Nursing, Health Economics, Health Systems  etc as well as to strengthen under represented designated groups, institutions and research tracks, on PhDs and where compelling Masters degrees.

The first group of National Health Scholars Program was funded in 2013.

For more information contact dedicated administrator:
Pumla Zonke at or call 021 938 0250


The SAMRC Researcher Development Grant is a strategic Staff PhD Development Grant.

The value is R250 000.00 once off to fund last year of the PhD.

Application process is initiated by email to Dr Maitin stating intension to apply for support.

Guidance will be provided after initial profiling.

For more information contact dedicated administrator: or call 021 938 0945

Prof Sithembiso Velaphi above is one of the recent beneficiaries of the Development Grant and has just completed his PhD in 2017. He is associate Professor at Wits University and works as a specialist in Pediatrics & Child Health based at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Johannesburg. Prof Velaphi’s PhD research topic was “The Epidemiology, Risk Factors and Diagnosis of Neonatal Sepsis”.


The SAMRC has partnered with the Government of Switzerland via the Swiss Vaccine Research Institute  (SVRC) and the University of Lausanne (UL) in a capacity development program in the research field of Vaccine Development. This is an e-learning facilitated program.  As at November SAMRC is hosting four (4) institutions within South Africa with scholars participating on the program, namely MUT, SMU, UKZN and WSU. The value of the scholarship is R375K for completion of the Master degree. The next request for applications will be in 2018.

For more information: contact dedicared administrator:
Thobile Mabuya at or call  021 938 0432


There is a dearth of MBChB or D.D.S graduates that read for PhD research degree. The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) continues to strengthen efforts that take cognizance of this paucity of Clinician researchers in South Africa.

The value of the scholarship is R500 000.00 p.a per scholar up to maximum of 4 yrs.

For more information: contact dedicared administrator:
Thobile Mabuya at or call  021 938 0432

Dr Goodman Sibeko: Above is one of the beneficiaries on the program, who will be completing his degree soon, he’s research tittle “has focused on the development and evaluation of task shifting interventions for severe mental illness. This is an approach which has great potential to address the treatment gap in mental health services in low and middle income countries.”


The purpose of the research fellowship is to contribute and assist in accelerating the building of intramural research capacity and scientific leadership. This is  done by creating opportunities for intramural research units within the SAMRC to host post-doctoral scientist that have demonstrated a potential to become established researchers.

The value of the grant is R350 000.00 p.a per fellow for 3 years with an option to extend to further 2 years subject to satisfactory performance and the availability of funds.

As at November 2017, Research Capacity Development (RCD) division boast with seven (7) units hosting intra-mural post-doctoral researchers, namely TB, BRIP, Health Systems, BoD, ATODRU, Cochrane and NCDRU research units.

For more information: contact dedicated administrator:
Thobile Mabuya at or call  021 938 0432


A strategic initiative of the President of the SAMRC. The objective of the project is for the SAMRC to increase its footprint nationally to include all strata of universities particularly to include the under resourced universities otherwise referred to as Historically Disadvantaged Institutions (HDIs). To date, eight universities have been invited for participation under this initiative, namely: i) University of Limpopo, ii) University of Venda, iii) University of Zululand, iv) University of Fort Hare, v) Walter Sisulu University, vi) University of the Western Cape, vii) Mangosutho University of Technology and viii) Sefako Makgatho University.

Each university is awarded one million rand per financial year (R1 000 000.00 per FY) to be shared among successful applicants within each university. Currently there are 16 funded PIs hosted in the eight universities.

For more information contact dedicated administrator: or call 021 9380873

Prof Mampuru is one of the successful PIs funded under this initiative and is from the University of Limpopo: He is one of the high performers in the RCDI project. Three of his students have already graduated with Masters Degrees in December 2017


Postgraduate students identified and supervised by a PI funded under the RCDI project described in X above to do research towards an MSc or PhD at the University in which the PI is doing his/her research. Post graduate students are awarded scholarships worth R160 000.00 pa for MSc and R200 000.00 pa for PhD to degree completion.

Application process is by identification and invitation by RCDI funded PI at the HDI.

For more information contact dedicated administrator: or call 021 9380873

RCDI Postgraduate Scholarship holders
Six (6) have graduated with an MSc degree in December 2016 from University of Zululand and University of Limpopo.  Three (3) of the six graduated students have continued to do their PhD degrees.
Back row L-R: **S. Shabalala; **A.Viraragavan ; *I. Boshielo ; **N. Hlengwa ; N.Ngema ; N. Buthelezi
Front row L-R: *S. Nkgepele ; *R. Malematja ; C.Masilela ; Y.Ntamo   (*completed MSc degree) (** completed MSc and continuing to do)


A strategic initiative of the President of the SAMRC. The objective of the project is the establishment of a 2-year pilot mid-career scientist programme to fast-track and transition mid-career scientists to independent researchers who will become equipped to write their own grants and thereby secure their own salary and research support. The mid-career scientist programme will invest in promising mid-career scientists to facilitate their retention in the public sector in areas of strategic interest to both the NDoH and the SAMRC.

To date, four mid-career scientists have been invited for participation under this project, namely: i) University of Cape Town, ii) University of Western Cape, iii) Walter Sisulu University, and VI) Sefako Makgatho University.
Each mid-career scientist is awarded one million two hundred fifty rand for the first year (R1 250 000.00per FY) and one million five hundred rand for the second year (R1 500 000.00 per FY)

Participation by universities and scientists is by approval by the SAMRC Board of the research node to be developed at a specific named university and by  nomination of the promising mid-career scientist doing work in that research area by the SAMRC President.

More guidance can be accessed by writing an email to the Division manager, Dr T Maitin at

For more information contact dedicated administrator: or call 021 9380873

Prof Khumalo is one of the four successful Mid-Career Scientists funded and is from the University of Cape Town.


Focuses on funding Young Generic Black candidates (African Black, Indian, Coloured and Asian) with research supervisors who are employees of SAMRC working as researchers within SAMRC intra or extra mural research units. The research Supervisor may also be an SAMRC funded PI working as a research scientist at any of the universities in South Africa.  Applying scholarship holders must be registered for MSc or PhD

For more information contact dedicated administrator:  call 021 9380911/0945

This is part of the current group of SAMRC Internship Scholarship scholars for 2017 academic year.
At the end of the financial year 2016/17 this scholarship program recorded at least 6 successfully completed degrees, the majority of whom were mentored in the Biomedical Research and innovation Platform under the Directorship of Prof J Louw

Dr Phiwayinkosi Dludla
“I would like to extend my gratitude to the South African Medical Research Council’s Research Capacity Development for continued support throughout my research career. Your constant support through various funding projects, such as the Masters and PhD Internship Programmes as well as the Intramural Postdoctoral Fellowship, you have made a significant contribution into making my dreams of becoming one of the leading scientists in my field a reality”

Above is one of the graduates who completed his PhD with the research topic titled “Compounds specific to Aspalathus linearis protect the diabetic heart against oxidative stress: a mechanistic study”. Dr Dludla continues to be funded under one of RCDs programs as a Post-doctoral fellowship candidate.

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Last updated:
11 December, 2017
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