Unit Head

Prof Heather Zar


Heather Zar is Professor & Head of the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health and Director of the School of Child and Adolescent Health at the University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa. After specialising in paediatrics she did 3 years of sub-specialist training in paediatric pulmonology at Babies Hospital, Columbia Presbyterian Medical Centre, New York, USA. She then returned to South Africa, following an academic career (including a PhD) while working at UCT. Her work, encompassing research, clinical care, education, training and advocacy, has focused on child lung health. Read more

The Unit

The Centre for Child & Adolescent Lung Health aims to foster a strong clinical translational research group in the area of priority childhood respiratory illnesses in Africa. Studies focus on the epidemiology, aetiology and risk factors for acute and chronic lung disease and the impact of acute disease on child health and on development of chronic disease. Research encompasses a broad range of methodologies from epidemiology to clinical science to laboratory-based methods.

Globally, paediatric lung diseases are the major cause of childhood mortality and morbidity. Childhood lung diseases, including pneumonia, HIV- associated respiratory diseases and tuberculosis, are major contributors to under-5 mortality in Africa. The incidence and severity of childhood non-communicable respiratory diseases is also very high, with asthma the commonest chronic disease in South African and African children. Increasing evidence links early infections or environmental exposures in childhood with chronic illness such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Research in child health is therefore essential to develop improved preventative and management options for childhood respiratory illnesses and to prevent both childhood and adult chronic diseases.

The CHILD team


20th November 2017

Heather Zar named 2018 Woman in Science Laureate

13 November 2017 | Story Michael Morris. Photo Supplied. Professor Heather Zar has been announced as the 2018 L’Oreal-UNESCO Women in Science Laureate for Africa and […]
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