It took just seven years from inception to reality – a record in the sphere of scientific development.

But the big day has arrived. The new global KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for Tuberculosis and HIV is now open for business in the grounds of the UKZN Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine. The highly modular building with its distinctive wood interior and unique mosaic designs houses nine university departments that will now be the linking hub between three existing UKZN Medical School buildings.

The establishment of K-RITH as a major player in the global fight against TB and HIV has set a powerful and fundamental new precedent in terms of collaborative science.

In his welcoming address Robert Tjian, President of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) emphasised the need to translate research into novel treatment for the “twin scourges” and new ways to manage the diseases.

‘It is fresh thinking that has led to the creation of this international research facility - the first of its kind outside the US and filled with extraordinary scientists,’ he said.

The opening of the new airy and attractive building on Tuesday October 9 was a joyous and proud occasion with celebrated storyteller, Gcina Mhlope, bringing a unique blend of traditional magic to the event. Other crowd-pleasing interludes were a performance by the KwaZulu-Natal Youth Wind Band, the rhythmic and harmonious Kholwa Brothers and the Wiggins Secondary School Choir.

Among the VIPs celebrating the birth of this international facility were The National Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, Kurt Schmoke, Chairman of the HHMI Trustees and Vice President of Howard University, Dr Zweli Mkhize, premier of KwaZulu-Natal, K-RITH’s new Director Professor Bill Bishai, UKZN Vice-Chancellor, Professor Malegapuru Makgoba who outlined the history of the new building and those who had made possible a far-reaching dream.

The high point of the opening ceremony was the official unveiling of the K-RITH Tower Building. Pressing the start button were Dr Motsoaledi, Professor Makgoba, Professor Tjian and Professor Bishai.

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