UKZN – Yale PartnershipHealth Sciences

From left: Dr Zach Porterfield (Yale), Dr Tesuven Naidu (UKZN), Professor Melynda Barnes (Yale), Dr Nthabi Rankethoa (UKZN), Dr Julia Toman (Yale), Dr Yougan Saman (UKZN), and Professor Elias Michaelides (Yale).From left: Dr Zach Porterfield (Yale), Dr Tesuven Naidu (UKZN), Professor Melynda Barnes (Yale), Dr Nthabi Rankethoa (UKZN), Dr Julia Toman (Yale), Dr Yougan Saman (UKZN), and Professor Elias Michaelides (Yale).

The inaugural UKZN-YALE  Otorhinolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery (ENT) Research Symposium was held at the Nelson Mandela R. School of Medicine to discuss health care needs in the field and ways in which international partnerships can address growing disparities worldwide.

The Symposium, is part of a second year of a collaboration between UKZN’s ENT Department and Yale University. The relationship began when Yale’s Dr Julia Toman and Dr Zachary Porterfield were introduced to ENT’s Head of Department Dr Yougan Saman at the 2015 ENT/SAAA/SASLHA congress in Durban.

The collaboration helped realise Saman’s vision to develop research and clinical care within his Department and across KwaZulu-Natal and is consistent with the University’s goal to promote African-led globalisation through strategies that enhance internationalisation and foster strategic partnerships.

The well-attended two-day event highlighted the multitude of clinical and research projects currently underway at the universities. Facial plastic surgeon Professor Melynda Barnes of Yale spoke on functional septorhinoplasty and the treatment of nasal obstruction.

Additional participants included clinicians and scientists from the University College of London (UK), Vanderbilt University (USA), the Department of Anatomy and Chemical Engineering at UKZN, and private physicians in South Africa.

A Neurotologist and skull base surgeon and Director of the Yale Otorhinolaryngology training programme, Professor Elias Michaelides, gave a series of lectures on Eustachian tube surgery, novel methods of detecting cerebrospinal fluid leaks, and the clinical workup of dizziness.

The Symposium served as a springboard for development of new combined international research projects at the registrar, consultant and professorial level.

Porterfield has joined the School of Clinical Medicine at UKZN as an Honorary Senior Lecturer to support these research and educational collaborations and  Toman will continue to partner to direct ongoing clinical exchange and education between UKZN and Yale.

This programme supports an exchange of registrar. ‘This year, Dr Akhona Yakobi, an Otorhinolaryngology Registrar at UKZN, will visit Yale University to work clinically with the Otorhinolaryngology Department and to complete a collaborative research project on intracranial sepsis.  In exchange, residents from Yale will return to UKZN, accompanied by fellow academic specialists, as a part of future exchange trips,’ said Porterfield.

Toman and Porterfield said they were fortunate to have attended the ENT Symposium and were grateful for the opportunity to meet otorhinolaryngologists from across the county. ‘This provided an opportunity to better understand the remarkable network of caring physicians and professionals who are dedicated to supporting the health of South Africans,’ said Toman.

To build on the success the Symposium, UKZN and Yale will host a series of symposiums and educational courses on a semi-annual basis. The next symposium is in March 2017, focusing on head and neck cancer surgery.

Specialists from Yale and other institutions in the United States will partner with UKZN otorhinolaryngologists to lecture and host a surgical course. Moreover, clinicians and scientists from both Yale and UKZN will expand the research and educational mission of this year’s inaugural event.

Nombuso Dlamini