Our vision is to make a meaningful contribution to the eradication of cancer.

Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in South Africa, and is likely to become even more significant as the incidence of communicable diseases in sub-Saharan Africa falls. Oncology has therefore been the subject of increasing research focus. There are multiple stakeholders in South African cancer research, such as the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA), the South African Department of Health, National Health Laboratory Services, the Medical Research Council and various Universities. In 2008, a total of 138 individual on-going projects concerning cancer were identified in South Africa. However, many projects are small and likely to be of low impact, with the overall result that cancer research in South Africa is highly fragmented. Funding for cancer research is relatively low, fellowships and bursaries are limited, and there is a lack of long-term strategic integrated research planning. Despite these limitations, South Africa has the capacity to conduct basic, epidemiological and cancer prevention research, and sophisticated facilities and techniques are employed by the research sector. Given the strictures mentioned above, there existed a clear requirement for a central body to coordinate and support a comprehensive research strategy which capitalizes on existing resources while avoiding duplication of effort. CARISA was established in 2005 as an Independent National Collaborative Research Programme involving the Medical Research Council of South Africa (MRC)(link to www.mrc.ac.za) and the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA)(link to www.cansa.org.za) with the intention of achieving this aim. CARISA funds research conducted by external organisations, provides financial support for postgraduate students and fellowships, and also conducts its own research.

Our mission is to improve the health status of South Africans by promoting a comprehensive national and sustainable cancer research strategy and programme that will build capacity and knowledge in the areas of primary and secondary prevention, treatment, palliation and monitoring.


Research priority areas

  • Mechanisms of carcinogenesis
  • Molecular epidemiology
  • Drug and vaccine development
  • Determination of risk factors for cancer
  • Treatment and palliation
  • Social and public health research
  • Cancer data management and surveillance

External stakeholders





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