The division has developed one of the strongest clinical research programs in South Africa focused on childhood respiratory illnesses particularly childhood pneumonia, tuberculosis, HIV-associated lung disease and asthma. Clinical research sites have been established at Red Cross Children's Hospital, New Somerset Hospital, Paarl hospital, primary care clinics in Khayelitsha and in the Drakenstein (Paarl) area. There is strong collaboration with basic science laboratories (especially the Institute for Infectious Diseases and Molecular Medicine (IIDMM) at UCT) and with public health researchers, enabling translational programs. Prof Zar is the only member of the Paediatric Department and one of 3 women at UCT to have received an A-rating from the National Research Foundation, indicating her standing as a leading international scholar.
Research has been supported by several international funding agencies (European Developing Country Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP), Wellcome Trust, Gates Foundation, Rockefeller foundation, National Institute of Health, USA) and national agencies (MRC, NRF, Discovery Foundation, South African Thoracic Society, Allergy Society of SA). The MRC Unit on Child and Adolescent Health undertakes translational research focused on priority childhood diseases including Childhood TB, childhood pneumonia and lung disease in adolescent HIV-infected children: a 5 year NIH sponsored diagnostic study on improved immunological and microbiologic strategies for childhood TB, an EDCTP funded diagnostic study focused on improved diagnosis of childhood TB in primary care settings and a Gates Foundation funded birth cohort study, the Drakenstein Child Health Study to investigate the determinants of childhood pneumonia and of chronic lung disease.
Sub-studies of the Drakenstein Child Health study include early determinants of infant lung function and its relationship to respiratory disease early in childhood; psychosocial aspects focused on maternal and child health and neurodevelopment; and the role of indoor air pollution and environmental tobacco smoke on lung health.
Other current projects include studies of the aetiology and outcome of lower respiratory tract infections in children, a study of B pertussis in hospitalised children and an extended rotavirus surveillance study. The division was also awarded an MRC Unit on Child and Adolescent Health.
Current studies include:
- Drakenstein Child Health Study (DCHS)
- Cape Town Adolescent Antiretroviral Cohort (CTAAC) Study
- MRC TB-Child