Project catalogue



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Mode of cooperation:

Exchange of researchers, training of postgraduate students, organization of workshops, and as far as possible these are done in conjunction with a NUFU program headed by professor Øksendal.



27 Characterization of type II GnRH receptor internalization.
Project no:

158150/V10

Grant Period:



1.1.2004-31.12.2005

Responsible University/Institution, Norway:



University of Bergen, Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology

Principle Investigator, Norway:



Combas, Anna M. Argay Associate professor

Financed by RCN

2004: 100,000 2005: 50,000

Responsible University/Institution, South Africa:



University of Cape Town, Department of Clinical Laboratory Sciences

Principle Investigator, South Africa:



Katz, Arieh Anthony Dr

Financed by NRF:

2004: 184,000 2005: 215,000
Main Objectives:

The type II GnRH receptor degradation will be investigated by measuring half life of receptor protein in the presence and absence of GnRHII ligand and the degradation pathway will be identified by testing effects of specific inhibitors on receptor turn-over.


In addition to the gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) which regulates reproduction, most vertebrates have a second form of GnRH, designated GnRHII which is conserved from fish to man. Recently, the South African group cloned the gene encoding the type II GnRH receptor from human and marmoset monkey. The cloned type II GnRH receptors have a C-terminal tail, in contrast to the mammalian type I GnRH receptors which uniquely lack a C-terminal tail. As the C-terminal tail of many G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) is important for receptor signalling, internalization, recycling and degradation we intend to study these processes in the type II GnRH receptor.

The project will investigate the functional role of the C-terminal tail on the internalization and signaling of the receptor and will characterize the molecular mechanism governing the internalization, signaling and degradation of the type II GnRH receptor.


Methodology:

In general two complimentary approaches will be employed; the first takes advantage of the expertise and facilities available to the Norwegian group. They will follow internalization of a fluorescent-tagged type II GnRH receptor with a confocal microscope and live imaging, while the South African group will employ a pharmacological approach and will follow internalization of a radio-labeled GnRH ligand.

The internalization of the type II GnRH receptor will be characterized in two model cell lines (COS-1 and HEK293). The role of the C-terminal tail will be investigated by following/measuring internalization of transfected wild-type type II GnRH receptor and receptor mutant having C-terminal truncations and specific point mutations.

The internalization pathway of the receptor will be identified by measuring/following the internalization of the presence of proteins known to mediate internalization (wild type, constitutive active and dominant negative forms of these proteins will be employed) and in the presence of specific inhibitors of internalization.

The type II GnRH receptor degradation will be investigated by measuring half life of receptor protein in the presence and absence of GnRHII ligand and the degradation pathway will be identified by testing effects of specific inhibitors on receptor turn-over.
Significance of proposed Research:

Elucidation of these processes will shed light on the activity and regulation of the type II GnRH receptor and can provide a basis for development of compounds that will be able to modulate the activity of the type II GnRH receptor.


Mode of cooperation:

The collaboration between two laboratories that have complimentary expertise is important and necessary for the successful completion of this project. The South African group are experts in GPCR receptors function and pharmacology, whereas the Norwegian group are experts in GPCR signalling and internalization. Moreover the Norwegian partner will provide with the stat of the art molecular imaging techniques required to perform these studies. The methodological knowledge acquired in Norway in turn will help to bring these techniques to South Africa.



28 Comoputational neuroscience: Mechanistic modelling of LGN in the early visual system.
Project no:

158153/V10

Grant Period:



1.1.2004-31.12.2005

Responsible University/Institution, Norway:



Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Department of Mathematical Sciences and Technology

Principle Investigator, Norway:



Einevoll, Gaute Professor

Financed by RCN:

2004: 116,925 2005: 28,125

Responsible University/Institution, South Africa:

University of KwaZulu-Natal, School of Physics

Principle Investigator, South Africa:



Chetty, Nithaya Dr

Financed by NRF:

2004: 45,000 2005: 15,000


Main Objectives:

The main objective for this proposal is to establish a long-term collaboration in computational neuroscience between the research groups of the two applicants. A significant component of the initiation of this collaboration is the plan to have two South-African students do their Master’s thesis work on collaborative projects in computational neuroscience on a brain part called LGN in the early visual system. These two students will work on problems directly connected to the current research interests in the group at the Agricultural University of Norway.

As a long-term goal, it would be ideal for the South African theoretical physics community to be exposed to the burgeoning field of computational neuroscience. Chetty and Lindebaum are organizing the Chris Engelbrecth Theoretical Physics Summer School scheduled for January 2005 on the topic of ‘Advanced Scientific Computing – a focus on algorithmic development’. Einevoll and one other Norwegian computational physicist will deliver a series of lectures and in so doing help develop a greater interest in this subject in South Africa.

Einevoll and Chetty have embarked on a new initiative of electronic interviews of South African physicists. These interviews seek to find out from the SA physicists: Who are we? What are we doing? Why are we doing what we do? What are our views about physics in the country? Etc. These interviews will be published as a catalogue in print form. We will distribute the catalogue throughout South Africa, and elsewhere in Southern Africa, as well as to interested parties in Norway and possibly to a number of physical societies in the world.

We believe that these interviews will be informative and useful to the physics public, the funding agents, industry, etc. We will learn of the views of physicists at a personal level at a time when we seem to know so little of each other. Only a select group of physicists are being invited to participate in this project.
Methodology:

SA Masters student Cavero is being jointly supervised by Einevoll, Plesser, Chetty and Lindebaum. The expertise in the field of Computational Neuroscience within this collaboration resides in Norway. The master’s candidate will learn the basics of modeling of the LGN in the early visual pathway. The anatomical, physiological and physical understanding of this subsystem is central to the study. The use of various neuronal simulators will be mastered. Cavero's master’s project will be an extension of on-going work at the Agricultural University of Norway. He will need to spend up six months at the Agricultural University of Norway to capture the necessary knowledge, skills and experience.

SA student van Wyngaard will complete her Honours degree at the beginning of 2004. She will need to spend up to six months at the Agricultural University of Norway to capture the knowledge, skills and experience as outlined above.

Einevoll and one other Norwegian Computational physicist will deliver a series of lectures at the Summer School in Theoretical Physics on the topic of Computational Biology. The school is being organized by Chetty and Lindebaum, and will be held in the Natal Drakensberg from 20 - 30 January 2005. The title of the School is 'Advanced Scientific Computing - a focus on the algorithmic development'.

Chetty or Lindebaum will travel to Norway to discuss on-going collaborations and to plan future research activities.

Einevoll will travel to South-Africa to monitor progress of research students.

Ph.D. student Pettersen (Agric. Univ. of Norway) will travel to South Africa to teachon the use of neuronal simulators.
Significance of proposed Research:

From an academic point of view, the research is significant because of a growing interest by quantitative scientists such as physicists and applied mathematicians in the field of biological systems. Major strides in biology will be made because the more detailed understanding at millimeter to nanometer length scales of biological systems now allows for the development of mathematical models. When successful, mathematical models give more precise and thus deeper understanding of the system at hand. Mathematical modeling of nature has been a focus of attention for physicists for centuries. Research in computational biology and in computational neuroscience in particular, brings together people with varying backgrounds to work jointly in a new multidisciplinary field.

From a developmental point of view, the expertise in this field, which presently resides in Norway (within this collaboration), will be developed in South Africa where no such expertise presently exists. The collaboration focuses on graduate student education and development, which helps create critical mass of expertise in South Africa for the future.

The involvement of Norwegian computational experts in the Chris Engelbrecth Theoretical Physics Summer School will expose an even wider South African (and African) audience to those new developments in the field of computational biology. This will hopefully stimulate greater interest in this field amongst South African physicists as well as create incentives for greater co-operation and collaborations amongst South African scientists in this field.

Physics in South Africa, and indeed in the world, is in a difficult state as the discipline tries to re-define itself in the new post-cold War era. In South Africa, there is a need for greater communication of the views of physicists on forging a new way forward. The electronic interviews, of SA physicists by Chetty, Einevoll and Hasselgren, are a new initiative which is aimed at stimulating debate and discussion on the future of physics in South Africa.
Mode of cooperation:

In 2004 SA Masters students Cavero and van Wyngaard will spend six months at the agricultural University of Norway under supervision by Einevoll and Plesser. They will continue to learn about the anatomy and physiology of the early visual system as well as the physics that governs the functioning of this system and the mathematical modelling of the system. They will write computer code and use simulation packages to study this system. Einevoll and Pettersen will travel to South Africa in 2004 to monitor the progress of the research students and teach the use of neuronal simulators.

Einevoll and one other Norwegian computational physicist will travel to South Africa in January 2005 to deliver a series of lecture on Computational biology at the Chris Engelbrecth Theoretical Physics Summer School of Theoretical Physics. The school is being organised y Chetty and Lindebaum on 'Advances computational Physics - a focus on algorithmic development'. Chetty or Lindebaum will travel to Norway in December 2005to discuss on-going research collaborations and future plans.

Einevoll and Chetty are communicating via e-mail on the project involving the electronic interviews of South African physicists. Both authors will be involved in the editing of the interviews and the writing of the forward of the catalogue. This project is also co-authored by Dr. Lennart Hasselgren from the Institute of Physical Sciences at Uppsala University, Sweden.



29 Addressing the New Governance Disparity: Mobilizing Local Knowledge and Capacity in Poor Communities - A Micro-Governance Model in S. Africa
Project no:

158156/V10

Grant Period:



1.1.2004-31.12.2005

Responsible University/Institution, Norway:



University of Bergen, Department of Administration and Organization Theory

Principle Investigator, Norway:



Froestad, Jan, Associate Professor

Financed by RCN:

2004: 45,000 2005: 275,000

Responsible University/Institution, South Africa:



University of the Western Cape, School of Governement

Principle Investigator, South Africa:



Shearing, Clifford Dr

Financed by NRF:

2004: 160,000 2005: 100,000
Main Objectives:

A key theoretical objective is to improve our knowledge of conditions for mobilizing local knowledge and self-directed capacity in poor communities, as a way of addressing the increasing governance disparity in the world caused by the transition from government toward governance', and from sovereignty/dominance toward 'governmentality' as a more indirect form of rule. The mobilization of local knowledge and the successful ordering of such knowledge in the new networks of nodal governance is today a key to combat marginalization.

The project seeks to understand, support, develop and extend an innovative micro-governance initiative in South Africa, called the Zwelethemba model, deliberately set up to address these problems. The model approaches three objectives that are at the top of the South African government's national agenda, crime prevention, work and infrastructure development and community and nation building. The local peace committees, working within the principles of the Zwelethemba model, have already managed to establish themselves as acknowledged and legitimate structures of dispute resolution in poor communities.

To date over 1000 'peace gatherings' have been held and over 5000 people have been involved in participating directly in solving conflicts and problems in their communities through the window of these gatherings that also generates income both for committee members and for approaching generic problems in the communities.

The project seeks to understand why this micro-governance model seems to be working, and enhances self-directed capacity in very poor South African communities. It seeks to explore the conditions that promote or prevent the integration and use of such local knowledge and capacity in wider policy networks. It seeks to understand why the peace committees are supported locally and why people find it in their interest to make use of their services. It asks why a dispute model that arranges for no balancing of pain or repair of harm still seems to produce an experience of justice that make disputants comply with a contractual agreement of future peace.
Methodology:

The various research questions that the project sets out to explore (see section 3, project description) make it necessary to gather data on i) local communities and clients served by peace committees, ii) local peace committees' members and practices, iii) functions and practices of the Community Peace Program (CPP) head office in Observatory, Cape Town, and iv) structure and interaction in wider policy networks of which the CPP is a part. Interviewing local people and clients, members of the CPP/local peace committees and key stakeholders in governance networks will be the main approach to collect such data.

For some of the questions asked a combination of surveying all or most communities for some essential information combined with more intensive, in-depth studies of some selected peace committees and communities will be used (see project description, section 3.3. on local knowledge and capacity and section 3.4, the CPP as a regulated market). Additional methods include: a) Analysis of audit and evaluation forms and data base already constructed on the basis of such information, available at the head office of the CPP, b) Participant observation at a series of peace gatherings. c) Gathering of data on costs of dispute case handling conducted by the CPP, compared with similar public budget data (see project description, section 3.4) d) interviews of (earlier ) disputants to evaluate the extent to which peace agreements are complied with and explore incentives for keeping or violating agreed-upon obligations.

The project intends to engage 'co-coordinators' in the CPP to do some of the interviewing and Master/Dr. students at one of the three local Universities to do some of the participant observation, supervised by project researchers.


Significance of proposed Research:

While the development of the Zwelethemba model was inspired through theoretical and empirical analysis that identified a governance deficit, the development of the model has intentionally been community based and experimental. This work has produced a robust and sustainable model for local governance that responds to many of the generic issues that have plagued attempts to deepen democracy by localizing governance. Of particular importance is the extent to which its key activities are community-based rather than expert driven.

The premise on which this proposal is founded is that it is now time to reflect theoretically on the model so that its central theoretical features can be articulated. This articulation will provide a platform for constant theoretical reflection and, as importantly, will provide a basis for policy development to extend the model itself and its principles much more widely. Theoretically, a key ambition of the project is to improve our knowledge of the conditions for mobilizing local knowledge and capacity in poor communities, and for inventing and regulating systems of governance ensuring that this knowledge and capacity will be utilized in ways that enhance social and economic development in these communities.
Mode of cooperation:

The project is organized as a joint research project, including exchange of project staff, both individual and collective dissemination of research findings and planning of joint participation in scholarly conferences. We expect to deploy both graduate and post-doctoral students at University of the Western Cape, Stellenbosch University and/or University of Cape Town to assist with the fieldwork. The two Principal Investigators will direct the research. As specified in section 3 the project will be organized as four sub-studies. We assume, however, that there is going to be much crossover and fertilization between the different studies.

The information we gather will be organized as a common data pool, to be utilized by all participants, researchers and others. On the other hand, however, it is always an advantage to stipulate particular responsibilities as clearly as possible. In that regard, Clifford Shearing and Jan Froestad will take a special responsibility for the implementation of the organization/ management studies (3.1 and 3.2). Madeleine Jenneker, with professional background in economics, will have a main responsibility for the macro- and micro-economic analysis (3.4), while John Cartwright, with his detailed insight in the running of the Community Peace Program, will be in charge of organizing and monitoring the collection of data on local knowledge and capacity and community impact (3.3), assisted by Birte Bjørkelo.

Jan Froestad and Birte Bjørkelo will each have two stays in Cape Town in 2004 and 2005, the presence of the Norwegian partners in South Africa approx. 5-6 months pr. year of the project. A key consultant to the project will be Professor Chris Tapscott, the Director of the School of Government at the University of the Western Cape. One of Tapscott's specialities is local government. Another consultant will be Professor Amanda Gouws at Stellenbosch University, Department of Political Science, having particular skills in quantitative methodology. A third consultant will be Dr. Steven Robbins, Department of Anthropology and Sociology, UWC, who has conducted a range of studies on local communities, the role of NGO's and on private - public encounters in South Africa.



30 Broken bodies and healing communities. Community, ritual, care and ethics in church-based responses to HIV/AIDS in RSA
Project no:

158162/V10

Grant Period:



1.1.2004-31.12.2005

Responsible University/Institution, Norway:



University of Oslo, Faculty of Theology

Principle Investigator, Norway:



Hafstad, Kjetil Professor

Financed by RCN:

2004: 262,635 2005: 190,515

Responsible University/Institution, South Africa:



University of Natal, School of Theology and Religion

Principle Investigator, South Africa:



Richardson, Neville Professor

Financed by NRF:

2004: 154,000 2005: 143,000
Main Objectives:

The main objectives are to assess the relationship between the "broken bodies" and the "healing community" among HIV/AIDS infected people in South Africa.

There are four research areas:


  1. Congregation and community: an ethnography

  2. Ritual body and cultural resistance: a ritual analysis

  3. Practical theological responses: pastoral care

  4. Ambiguities in teaching and practices: historical and ethical reflections

South Africa has more people infected by HIV/AIDS than any other country. The South African government has argued that Christian and other faith communities have a central role in responding to the crisis. Media and HIV/AIDS agents in South Africa as well as other Southern African countries have given Churches much attention. It is argued that Churches have been silent and reluctant in relation to the crisis. Yet "faith communities" have also taken a large proportion of the everyday burden of caring for the affected. Against this background, we present the research project "Broken bodies, healing communities", which is a joint proposal of The School of Theology at the University of Natal, and The Faculty of Theology at the University of Oslo, in cooperation with Diakonhjemmet College/International department. The project will combine the research efforts and scholarly competence of each of the schools involved. The focus is on the relation between the "broken bodies" and the "healing community" with a particular emphasis on and understanding of the fact that persons are persons-in community before they are individuals. Both sufferers and caregivers are hence communal persons. Rituals related to healing and care are closely related to the identity and self-understanding of the community and this self-understanding provides both the reasons for, and the kind of people who can offer reconciliation and care. We will investigate critically issues in community, ritual, care and ethics in church-based contextual responses to HIV/AIDS in RSA. We will in particular investigate the ambiguities in the relationship between a "broken body" and a presumably "healing community", focusing on moral dynamics which increase the suffering and ways to grow in new and truly healing directions. A critical approach to the faith communities themselves emerges through such issues.


Methodology:

The methodological approaches range from specific ethnographic fieldwork based on participant observation to the techniques, applied in relation to the textual studies within theology. Our four different, but related research areas are therefore formulated in a manner that reflects the general methodological approach in contextual theology. That is, we move from the very specific ethnographically detailed study of the relation between congregation and community, into more general church activities in relation to ritual activities and to pastoral care, and from there to integrative ethical and historical reflection.


Significance of proposed Research:

We will produce new knowledge on contextual responses to HIV/AIDS in faith communities in South Africa. We will contribute to building academic capacity in South Africa among previously disadvantaged communities. The joint research cooperation will in addition indirectly provide the platform for the important further development of PhD students and master’s students both in South Africa and Norway. The project has furthermore an applied relevance as to how policy makers and faith communities can gain an understanding of how communities can continue to develop forms of viable support networks, new ethical values, communal and ritual forms of healing and care.


Mode of cooperation:

Building on our already well-established co-operation in the International Network for Advanced Education (INATE) we will arrange research in 4 sub-groups. We envisage exchange visits of staff, for symposia (as already held), periods of collaboration, research, fieldwork and teaching.




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