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15 April 2024 | Story Andre Damons | Photo SUPPLIED
Five registrars from the Department of Internal Medicine
The five MMed students from the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of the Free State (UFS) will represent the university at international events. Drs Paul Bester, Anri Gerber, Debi Moagi, Batandwa Ntantiso, and Tahlia Mohangi.

Five registrars and MMed students from the Department of Internal Medicine within the School of Clinical Medicine at the University of the Free State (UFS) will soon jet off to participate in prestigious international events where they will present research in their respective fields.

Drs Paul Bester, Anri Gerber and Debi Mmasabata Seriti Moagi will attend the prestigious 9th McMaster International Review Course in Internal Medicine (MIRCIM) in Kraków, Poland in May. MIRCIM is a joint educational initiative of McMaster University’s Department of Medicine — the birthplace of evidence-based medicine (EBM) and problem-based learning (PBL) — and the Polish Institute for Evidence Based Medicine.

Dr Gerber, together with Dr Bathandwa Ntantiso, will also attend the Network for the Advancement of Patient Blood Management, Haemostasis and Thrombosis (NATA) NATA24 Annual Symposium in Bologna, Italy, scheduled from 18 to 20 April 2024. NATA24 is a unique meeting: a global multidisciplinary forum gathering healthcare professionals seeking to learn more about best clinical practice in patient blood management (PBM), the management of anaemia and iron deficiency, critical bleeding and thrombosis.

Another registrar, Dr Tahlia Mohangi, a third-year registrar in the Department of Internal Medicine, is poised to showcase her research at the upcoming International Society of Blood Transfusion (ISBT) Congress in Barcelona, Spain, in June.

Prof Thabiso Mofokeng, Head of the Department of Internal Medicine, as well as Dr Claire Armour (Barrett), Head: Research and Development in the School of Clinical Medicine, say they are extremely proud of the registrars for their exceptional international contribution. 

Academic excellence

According to Dr Armour (Barrett), Dr Bester, who passed his MBChB cum laude, is a shining example of academic excellence and passion for medicine. His journey is deeply rooted in his personal experience as a type 1 diabetic since childhood.

“Dr Bester’s commitment to excellence is evident in his academic achievements, having passed the primary exams of the Colleges of Medicine of South Africa with distinction. His dedication to medicine extends beyond the classroom, as he actively seeks to unravel complex medical mysteries and rare disease presentations.

“Dr Bester’s participation in MIRCIM is testament to his commitment to advancing medical understanding in his country and beyond. His dedication, coupled with his personal experience and academic achievements, makes him a role model for aspiring medical professionals. Dr Bester is truly a credit to his alma mater (the UFS) and a source of pride for South Africa,” she says.

Dr Bester will present his compelling case report, “Protein losing enteropathy in a young patient with chorea”, at MIRCIM with his presentation not only showcasing his diagnostic acumen but also highlights his determination to share knowledge and contribute to the medical community. His trip to MIRCIM is sponsored by the esteemed Faculty of Consulting Physicians of South Africa (FCPSA).

Passion for research and patient care

Dr Gerber, who has a passion for research and patient care, has been selected to present her research, “Ironing out the Iron Profile in Heart Failure Patients”, at the NATA24 Congress before jetting off to the MIRCIM 2024 Congress where her case report, “Takayasu Arteritis: A clot or not”, has been accepted for an oral presentation. She will also compete in the prestigious Best Case Report Contest, a testament to her clinical acumen and research skills.

Last year she also attended the prestigious NIH Fogarty “Scientific Writing and Manuscript Preparation Course” presented by the University of Cape Town and University of California (San Francisco), an experience that greatly enhanced her research endeavours. In 2023, she was awarded first place in the Three Schools of Medicine Real Short Registrars Research Competition (UFS) in June 2023, where she presented the preliminary results of her MMed research.

“Dr Gerber's accomplishments exemplify her dedication to advancing medical knowledge and improving patient outcomes. Her future is bright, and she is poised to make significant contributions to the field of medicine,” says Dr Armour (Barrett).

Diagnosing rare diseases

Dr Moagi, who is deeply committed to advancing medical knowledge and patient care, will be presenting a compelling case report entitled “Unveiling the Rarity: Bilateral Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma Causing Kidney Failure in a Young Adult”, in Kraków, Poland.

Under the guidance of her esteemed supervisor, Prof Busiswa Feziwe Bisiwe, Dr Moagi’s case report sheds light on the challenges of diagnosing rare diseases, emphasising the importance of considering alternative diagnoses. Her case report highlights how embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma of the kidneys can masquerade as genitourinary tuberculosis, underscoring the need for a comprehensive approach to diagnosis and treatment.

According to Dr Armour (Barrett), this case report not only underscores Dr Moagi’s commitment to advancing medical knowledge and improving patient outcomes but also exemplifies the collaborative efforts within the medical community. Sponsored by the Faculty of Consulting Physicians of South Africa (FCPSA), her participation in MIRCIM is a testament to her dedication in the field of Internal Medicine. Dr Moagi was awarded a distinction for the research component of her MMed degree and continues to shape the future of healthcare through research, exemplifying excellence in her field. She is also the first black African to pass the UFS MBCHB with distinction.

Groundbreaking research

Dr Ntantiso’s groundbreaking research, “Anaemia in General Medical Inpatients in Bloemfontein, South Africa: A Significant Public Health Concern”, has been chosen for presentation as a poster at the prestigious NATA24 Annual Symposium. His travel expenses have been generously funded by the Three Schools of Medicine and the Department of Internal Medicine.

His exceptional research has not only been recognised locally but has also garnered international acclaim. He also participated in the NIH Fogarty Program’s “Scientific Writing and Manuscript Preparation Course”. Leveraging this opportunity, he refined his manuscript, leading to the successful completion of the research component of his Master of Medicine in Internal Medicine with distinction in March 2024. Currently, he is preparing for his final examinations for the Fellowship of the College of Physicians.

“In addition to his recent achievements, Dr Ntantiso was awarded third place in the Three Schools of Medicine Real Short Registrars Research Competition (UFS) in June 2023. The impact of his research has been profound, shedding light on the prevalence of anaemia in medical patients and emphasising the critical need to assess the local prevalence of anaemia within specific patient populations,” says Dr Armour (Barrett).

Exploring anaemia

Dr Tahlia Mohangi’s research study, “A 5-year Retrospective Database Review of Anaemia Prevalence and Associated Laboratory Biomarkers in a Central South African Setting”, explores anaemia and its correlation with various laboratory biomarkers. She has been awarded the prestigious Harold Gunson Fellowship from the International Society of Blood Transfusion (ISBT) to attend the congress.

“Her research endeavours to redefine the approach to anaemia in internal medicine patients while also shedding light on its alarming prevalence within the local community,” says Dr Armour (Barrett).

Dr Mohangi’s research career was boosted when she also attended a NIH Fogarty “Scientific Writing and Manuscript Preparation Course”. She came second in the Faculty of Health Sciences Three Schools of Medicine Real Short Registrars Research Competition (UFS) in June 2023, where she presented the protocol of her MMed research.

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