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The Children’s Heart Disease Research Unit (CHDRU) was established in 2015 with the goals to:

• Conduct, promote and support children’s heart research on the African continent
• Facilitate Implementation Science
• Provide postgraduate supervision and training in children’s heart research

The overarching vision, mission and values of this unit are those of the University of Cape Town and the Department of Paediatrics and the Institute of Child Health as our primary affiliations. Our vision and mission:

Vision: integrating research and clinical practice to improve the lives of all with congenital and paediatric heart disease.
Mission: conducting innovative, patient-centred and accountable research with the focus on African areas of need.

Two of our key projects are Reach and PROTEA.

Reach: To Stop Rheumatic Heart Disease

Reach was founded in 2014 by Prof Jonathan Carapetis and Liesl Zühlke and is a scientific and technical initiative to achieve RHD control. Reach works across three strategic areas: People- supporting those living with and affected by RHD, Policy - ensuring ARF/RHD are national health priorities in endemic countries and Programmes - providing technical assistance on ARF/RHD prevention and control.

PROTEA: The Protea Study

Partnerships for Congenital Heart Disease in Africa (The PROTEA Study) aims to address gaps in evidence in CHD epidemiology by establishing a comprehensive phenotype and genotype registry, developing a biobank for DNA extraction and genetic analysis; and to utilise computational fluid dynamics to potentially develop new treatment modalities for CHD. A key component of this study is capacity building, teaching and training and expanding into other sites in Africa.

These two interests are brought together in this meeting: bringing together colleagues from South Africa and around the World to focus on novel research ideas to impact and change the lives of those living with Rheumatic Heart Disease and then providing some feedback and further training into Echocardiography as we demonstrate how research can impact clinical practice.

Our meeting is funded by the University of Manchester and University of Cape Town, MRC UK and CHDRU and is dedicated to the memory of Professor Bongani Mayosi, a co-investigator on the Protea Study and a tireless champion for RHD.

A warm welcome to the meeting and enjoy the warm Cape Town hospitality.                        
A/Prof Liesl Zühlke                                                                                  
Director Children’s Heart Disease Research Unit