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Prestigious Wellcome Trust Award for UKZN's mental health champion

Dr Andr'e J van Rensburg, a senior researcher in UKZN's Centre for Rural Health (CRH), joined the ranks of global pre-eminent scientists when he received the prestigious Wellcome Trust Discretionary Award. The award, which is a Research Fellowship in Humanities and Social Sciences, will be used to develop a research programme investigating health system responses to severe mental illness in community settings.

In applying for the Discretionary Award, Van Rensburg underwent a rigorous, three-stage external peer review process. His successful application, worth R1 million, includes research support for a year in the CRH under the supervision of renowned mental health researcher and professor of psychology, Inge Petersen. This will include exploratory research, network-building and participation in the sixth Global Symposium for Health Systems Research in Dubai later this year.

Van Rensburg is a member of Emerging Voices for Global Health, which is a multi-partner blended training programme for international young researchers, policymakers and advocates for equitable health systems in low-to-middle income countries. He is passionate about strengthening systems to address 'diseases of poverty' - particularly tuberculosis and mental illness - in low-to-middle-income countries; governance and power relations in healthcare structuring; the political economy of health and healthcare; and inter-sectoral, state and non-state tensions in health systems reform.

An alumnus of Ghent University in Belgium, Van Rensburg seems to have developed a passion for brewing beer. He is an avid member of the Durban Homebrewers Club, which supports local community organisations during annual charity events. An aspiring musician, he also plays the guitar and enjoys spending time with his four rescue dogs and his wife, Lize.

The Wellcome Trust is a premier global health funder with a grant portfolio of £4.3 billion. The Trust, which has a longstanding partnership with UKZN, supports researchers that take on big health challenges, campaign for better science, and help everyone get involved with science and health research.