TASK Staff Newsletter May 2019

GCP International course

Recently TASK Academy, a specific group of staff within the larger company focused on training and skills development, presented on “Implementing Good Clinical Practice at the (trial) site”. This during the kick-off meeting of the European-Latin American TB research collaboration network (EUSAT-RCS), held at the Radboud university medical centre, Nijmegen, the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Here TASK team members Karen Cloete and Lauren Philips presented on various aspects of Good Clinical Practice to representatives of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal and Paraguay. The goal being to develop capacity at their respective research sites through sharing the knowledge and expertise gained from TASK’s 14 years of performing clinical trials.

This forms part of the greater “End TB strategy” launched in 2016 by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

TASK Academy regularly hosts similar accredited GCP courses (in South Africa) for the development of research professionals.

You can contact them or note when the next course is offered on the TASK website here: http://task.org.za/good-clinical-practice-training/

Ysterplaat Primary School Grade 7 student visit

When a CAB (Community Advisory Board) member visited TASK HQ last year, she loved the facility and thought it would be a great idea to invite learners to see and gain a better understanding of clinical research.

So she took it upon herself to organise this event, even to the point of having the learners transport sponsored and contacted Vela (our Community Engagement Officer) regarding a school visit to the building.

Vela addressed the learners on various TB topics from what it is to how they can take preventative steps to avoid infection. Alta Mwela presented on the collection and transport of sputum. One of the lab technologists, Chaldene, spoke about and showed what TB looks like under a microscope and Marthalize concluded the day with a presentation on TASK and why we do research.

The TASK staff did not anticipate hosting 120 children but they were up for it!

The learners asked lots of questions and won a few prizes.

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Dr De Jager presenting at the TB forum

Dr Veronique recently shared results from two studies where high-dose rifampicin was given and one where we investigated the effect of higher doses of isoniazid in patients with isoniazid (INH) resistant TB.

The TB clinical forum is hosted by DTTC and occurs once a month at the SU Medical campus

Dr Caryn Upton at the annual American Thoracic Society conference

Recently TASK investigator Dr Caryn Upton traveled to Dallas, Texas in the United States to attend the annual American Thoracic Society conference to present a poster on a case report. The case presented was regarding a patient enrolled on a clinical trial with asymptomatic TB in the brain who appears to have been successfully treated with the NIX TB regimen of bedaquiline, pretomanid and linezolid.

“I am specifically interested in this case because research on TB meningitis and drug penetration into the brain is severely lacking. This case represents an important first step in investigating the role of novel agents in this devastating disease.”

Dr Upton is an investigator on several clinical trials at TASK, specifically deployed at TASK Brooklyn where the focus is on MDR and XDR research.

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Ask the CEO


So each month you can post or email a question for the CEO, I’ll ask him (anonymously if needed) and we will publish the Q&A here.

Just a reminder to send questions to me: duncan@task.org.za or post into the small boxes provided that are placed at reception at our various sites, place in a sealed envelope if you wish to keep your question private and confidential. 


Dear prof,
Just a follow-up to last month’s question of:

Question 1: “Why is TASK Eden separate from TASK and how does the relationship work between the two work?

Answer: The two entities have been set up as separate businesses but they are under the same ownership. TASK Eden does not yet have active studies. Once TASK Eden is established I hope that the entities can collaborate on projects.

Since the 2 are separate business entities, one would assume that they have separate finances. If staff working for TASK Applied Science (i.e. the regulatory team) provide services to TASK Eden, how is this accounted for financially?

The entities indeed have separate finances and such services would have to be compensated. If you are interested in these matters please come speak to me. The TASK Eden business is developing and constructive input in making it work is welcome.


Dear Prof,

Not hoping anything does, but what happens if something happens to you? i.e. you cannot continue to work in your current capacity. What is the contingency plan? How will this affect the rest of the staff team and the company at large?

Answer: This is a good question that we have thought about a lot. If I suddenly become unable to lead TASK the remaining directors will be in control. There is a plan in place that prevents operational paralysis.


Dear Prof,

Why is there always renovations?

Where is the bonus that was promised?

This is unfair.

Answer: We are legally obliged to obtain a certificate from City Council that the building meets all legal requirements. This takes so long because there was uncertainly about the standards, particularly around the fire protection. The good news is that revised plans have recently been approved by council. The renovations happening now are to make the building meet the conditions on these plans. This work should be completed in a few weeks and then renovations will stop.

That said, there is still much more we would like to do the building at some point. This is to provide safe parking on the outside, putting in a lift on the North side with better access security, close off the space towards Voortrekker road, and build extra rooms on the roof space that the spiral staircase leads to. All this will have to wait until we have looked at people’s salaries and bonuses.


Dear Prof,
I would like to find out what the reason is that most people are not greeted by you not even a glance or a smile. Most days it’s very uncomfortable to be in the vicinity of your Boss but he does not acknowledge you even exist.

It would be appreciated even a knot (nod) or a slim smile, so that we the people that works for you feel more comfortable and give 100% and not just 50% when we working.

Remember we have been give our all during the time of your financial difficulty and giving even more even though there were no increases nor bonusses. So a friendly smile will be appreciated.

I would also like to know why are 3rd priority on your list. To me the lab is the heart of the company and without the lab there is no company so a little appreciation would be appreciated. Even if it is just a smile and acknowledgement.


Answer:I am sorry that you feel this way. It is not my intention or style to treat people according to priorities in any way. Perhaps next time you see me you can just say hello? Perhaps I don’t know your name or function and it would be nice of you could help me out there. It is a sad reality that we have become so many that I no longer know everyone working for TASK as well as I used to.

Recruitment incentive - APRIL WINNERS!!

The site or sites who recruit at least 5 participants for the month will be eligible for this monetary incentive of $100.

TASK started the ball rolling by our Delft team winning for the months of April and May, with a notable majority.

Thank you for reading our newsletter. 

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