Rory Dunbar receives HB & MJ Thom bursary

Mr Rory Dunbar, a data analyst at the Desmond Tutu TB Centre, investigates TB diagnostic processes for his doctoral study

Mr Rory Dunbar, a data analyst at the Desmond Tutu TB Centre (DTTC) at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS), has received the HB & MJ Thom bursary for sabbatical support to further his PhD studies in 2016. This prestigious award is given annually to people who show positive leadership potential in any field and have obtained a good academic record in their previous studies.

He plans to use the bursary to travel to the Liverpool School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in the United Kingdom to visit his co-supervisor, Mr Ivor Langley. Prof Nulda Beyers, the Director of the DTTC, is his supervisor at Stellenbosch University (SU).

Dunbar is doing research on operational modelling used by healthcare workers to diagnose tuberculosis (TB).  He evaluates operational modelling by using discrete event simulation. The research outcomes will be made available to support policy decisions on the introduction of new TB diagnostic tools and algorithms for TB and MDR-TB in Cape Town.

This research project is part of the PROVE IT (Policy Relevant Outcomes from Validating Evidence on ImpacT) study that has been undertaken by Dr Pren Naidoo of the DTTC in Cape Town. The aim of this study is to assess the impact of new molecular diagnostics on the diagnosis and treatment of TB in routine operational conditions. Dunbar uses data of the PROVE IT study for his research project.

Researchers on the PROVE IT study aim to provide information at a national and global level on how to optimise the implementation of new diagnostic tools.

“The award gives me freedom to concentrate on my academic career for a dedicated period. Obtaining my PhD is the next step in my career as I would like to stay involved in the academic environment,” Dunbar said.

Mandi Barnard