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2021 Research Fund Awardee

SIRS Awards the 2021 Research Fund Award

The Schizophrenia International Research Society (SIRS) has awarded the 2021 Research Fund Award to Dr. Vuyokazi Ntlantsana from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. The title of the proposal is “A pilot study of a Brief Relaxation, Education and Trauma Healing (BREATHE) in patients with first episode psychosis and post-traumatic stress disorder.” SIRS is confident that the project has great potential for societal impact.

SIRS is committed to directly supporting early career researchers who have important and novel ideas that may have immediate effects on improving the lives of people with schizophrenia. SIRS established a Research Fund Award for this purpose. The award is intended to provide research funds for junior investigators who have an important idea or hypothesis to test but are lacking in research funds to do so.

A Message from Vuyokazi Ntlantsana

Trauma is highly prevalent in our South African setting. PTSD comorbidity with psychosis is associated with poor outcomes. The award will enable me to culturally adapt and pilot a Brief Relaxation, Education and Trauma Healing (BREATHE) in patients with first episode psychosis and post-traumatic stress disorder. The intervention is brief, can be administered by task shifting and is suitable for low resource settings. This intervention brings new hope for improved outcomes in patients with early psychosis.

A Message from Sohee Park, Chair of the Awards Committee

According to the Global Burden of Disease Studies, mental and substance use disorders are now the leading cause of disability worldwide, with schizophrenia carrying one of the highest disability weights of all communicable and noncommunicable diseases. Across much of sub-Saharan Africa, the scarcity of mental health resources presents an even greater challenge to deliver psychiatric interventions. Dr. Ntlantsana will implement a culturally appropriate behavioral tool to ameliorate disability caused by trauma and psychosis in South Africa. This approach could pave the way towards developing strategies that are uniquely suited for local communities. We wish Dr. Ntlantsana much success in the coming year!

Support the Research Fund Award

The SIRS Research Fund Award has proven invaluable to supporting the research development of early career researchers. Through past donations, SIRS has provided two research fund awards to junior investigators. The 2019 awardee, Yoji Hirano of Kyushu University in Japan, used an MRI biofeedback method to alleviate auditory hallucinations in patients. The 2020 SIRS Research Fund Award went to Leandro Valiengo from Sao Paolo, Brazil. The funds will enable the use a unique non-invasive procedure called biophotomodulation in a treatment trial for alleviating the negative symptoms of schizophrenia. Now in 2021 the funds go to Dr. Vuyokazi Ntlantsana from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa.

It is estimated that 1 in every 100 people in the world live with schizophrenia. Even more live with psychosis. Now more than ever there is a need for increased research funding for schizophrenia research around the world. Consider supporting early career researchers and junior investigators with project ideas that would improve the lives of people with schizophrenia by donating to the SIRS research award.

Your gift will be matched by an anonymous donor up to $5000 until 31 December 2021. Make double the impact by donating to SIRS!

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