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The Institute for Microbial Biotechnology and Metagenomics (IMBM) is a leading research unit based within the Department of Biotechnology at the University of the Western Cape (UWC). Our research employs culture-based approaches as well as cutting edge ”omics” strategies to study microbiomes, and identify novel biosynthetic gene clusters and metabolites. The Institute focuses on the research and development of novel, high-value natural products for the pharmaceutical, cosmeceutical, food & beverage and agricultural industries, as well as products for industrial processes.
CLOSING DATE FOR APPLICATIONS IS 20 JULY 2019
The Nanobiotechnology Research Group in the Department of Biotechnology at the University of the Western Cape herewith invites potential students to enrol for an NRF-funded PhD or MSc degree to develop drug delivery systems for obesity. If interested, you may start either in the second semester of 2019 or the beginning of January 2020.
Obesity is a complex metabolic disease that poses serious public health problems worldwide. It is a risk factor for various life threatening chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, hypertension, dyslipidemia, atherosclerosis and osteoarthritis. Treatment of obesity using anti-obesity drugs, is limited by their non-specificity, and most of them have been withdrawn from the market due to severe adverse side effects. Therefore, there is an urgent need for the development of safe and effective drugs and treatment approaches in order to curb the obesity epidemic.
Our lab and others have shown that inhibiting angiogenesis by targeting a protein expressed on dysfunctional cells lining the blood vessels represents a promising strategy for obesity treatment. However, this strategy is limited by the use of only one targeting peptide. Thus, we want to discover other novel, specific and selective targeting agents to use for obesity treatment.
An in vivo model of obesity will be used to isolate potential targeting molecules. These agents will further be validated in cell culture for use as active targeting agents for obesity treatment. The selected agents will then be used to develop drug delivery systems for obesity treatment.
Studentships (MSc and PhD) with bursary funding for South African citizens are available. Experience in either cell biology, histology, biochemistry, microbiology, pharmacy or molecular biology (especially PCR) is required.
The Nanobiotechnology Research Group in the Biotechnology Department at the University of the University of the Western Cape herewith invites potential students to enrol for THRIP-funded PhD or MSc degree to develop nano-enabled wound dressing for chronic wounds and burns. If interested, you may start either in the second semester of 2019, or the beginning of January 2020.
An effective and complete process of wound healing is critical for the general well-being of patients, including burn victims and people living with diabetes. Current clinical treatments of wounds and ulcers, including topical antimicrobial agents, while useful, are ineffective against resistant microorganisms. The increasing prevalence of burns and chronic wounds raises the need for development of novel antimicrobial and wound healing agents that do not suffer the same fate. Recent development in nanotechnology for medical and pharmaceutical applications provide great opportunities for improving chronic wound treatments.
Our lab intends to use nanotechnology and plant biodiversity for the production of nanoparticles, and study their cellular and molecular effects during wound healing, in order to improve future therapeutic interventions. In turn, these novel nanotechnology-based materials will be incorporated in advanced medical devices. The incumbent student will participate in industry-related development activities for the production of the nano-enabled devices.
Studentships (MSc and PhD) with bursary funding for South African citizens are available for 3 years. Experience in either nanotechnology, cell biology, histology, biochemistry, microbiology or molecular biology is required.
Two NRF-funded MSc projects are available in the University of Free State’s Research Chair in Pathogenic Yeast, under the supervision of Dr Olihile Sebolai.
Climate-induced coral bleaching is considered an existential threat to coral reefs globally and is exacerbated by other stressors, including coral diseases. Some corals are more resistant to bleaching than others, for reasons that include genetic variability among colonies, species and locations or gene expression. An evolutionary perspective is therefore integral to understanding resilience in corals. The ability of corals to resist bleaching and disease is additionally dependent on maintaining a healthy microbiome (assemblage of microorganisms, including algae, other protists, bacteria, archaea, fungi, and viruses). While the importance of endosymbiotic microbes in coral health is well known, the effect of temperature on coral-associated bacterial diversity is not fully understood. The many interactions between the coral animal and all its symbionts provide many opportunities for adaptation to changing environments and there is some evidence that corals may adapt to climate change. However, it is recognised that they are unlikely to naturally adapt fast enough to avoid catastrophic loss of species and populations.
We are looking for a capable and energetic PhD student to work on a multidisciplinary project on the microbiome of wheat under Conservation Agriculture. The project will involve high throughput amplicon sequencing and qPCR methods, among others. The project is funded by the NRF, and there is a bursary available, however, preference will be given to students who already have their own bursary. The ideal candidate should have completed a MSc degree in Microbiology, Genetics or Biochemistry or any related field with a strong background in molecular biology. Preference will also be given to South African citizens.
Barend Wilhelm (Ben) Strydom was born in Rietbron in the Karoo on 7 October 1932 and passed away on 24 August 2018. As a child, he attended seven different schools since his father, an NG Church minister, served rural communities in the Eastern and Western Cape. He matriculated from Hoërskool Punt, Mosselbaai in 1950, where he was head boy. He graduated from the University of Stellenbosch with a BSc Agriculture (Microbiology) degree in 1954, the second person to graduate in this specialist field at the University. He completed an MSc Agriculture (Microbiology)(cum laude) in 1958 at the University of Pretoria, and a PhD in Microbiology at the University of Wisconsin Madison, USA in 1963. He was employed by the Department of Agriculture from 1955 to 1989, holding leadership positions from 1966 at the Plant Protection Research Institute, where he became Assistant Director. On creation of the Agricultural Research Council (ARC), he moved to Rustenburg as Director of the Tobacco and Cotton Research Institute from 1989 until his retirement in 1994. He also served as an Honorary and Extra-ordinary Professor of the University of Pretoria.
Dr Ben Strydom was a highly respected scientist in his specialist field of biological nitrogen fixation, and thereby made a significant contribution to Agriculture in South Africa. His PhD at the University of Madison on the growth requirements of Rhizobacteria that nodulate alfalfa, clover and pea plants was advised by the renowned leaders in the field, Professor’s Owen Allen and Ira Baldwin. On his return to South Africa, he set up the Biological Nitrogen Fixation research unit at the Rietondale campus of the Plant Protection Research Institute, Department of Agriculture.
Dr Strydom has been credited with establishing the legume crop inoculant industry in South Africa. He promoted quality control standards for bacterial inoculants through the Department of Agriculture and set the example through his rigorous research on the taxonomy and host specificity of rhizobacteria. Biological nitrogen fixation enriches the soil and reduces the requirement for inorganic fertilizers for legume crop production such as soybean, french bean and lucerne. Soybeans alone are grown on approximately 750 000 ha in South Africa (GrainSA, 2017) with biological nitrogen fixation reducing the dependence on inorganic nitrogen fertilizer. Biological nitrogen fixation, therefore, makes an important contribution to the gross production value of soybean production estimated at R5 billion annually (DAFF, 2017).
Dr Strydom’s contribution to Agriculture in South Africa was recognised by several awards, namely the Havenga Agricultural Researcher of the Year in 1981 from the South African Academy for Science and Art, and the Agriculturalist of the Year Award in 1994 from the SA Agricultural Writers Association, including that same year’s award from the then Transvaal section. In 1980, Dr Strydom was awarded a commemorative medal together with other notable alumni from the University of the Pretoria.
He served the local Agricultural science community, often in leadership roles. He was President of the combined South African Society for Plant Pathology and Microbiology from 1973-1976, having been a member since 1964, and he was elected a Fellow in 1986. He was passionate about quality standards in scientific publication and the importance of scientific peer review. To this end, he was President of the Joint Council for Natural Science Societies for two years (1985-1986) and was liaison committee member for the molecular sciences as well as agricultural sciences from 1980-1982. He was on the Executive Committee (1987-1991) of the South African Council of Natural Scientists, now SACNASP (South African Council of Natural Scientific Professions), serving on the Board for a total of nine years.
Dr Strydom recognised the potential of biotechnology, leading workgroups on its implementation in the Department of Agriculture and the ARC (1984-1988). As a member of the SA Committee for Genetic Experimentation (SAGENE)(1987-1991), he contributed to the judicious introduction of genetically modified crops to South Africa, which was later formalized by the GMO Law. He served on advisory boards at the CSIR, the FRD (now the NRF), and the Laboratory of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of Witwatersrand (1985-1987).
Dr Strydom published 83 peer-reviewed publications under the name BW Strijdom, including eight book chapters. He was invited speaker at international nitrogen fixation conferences in USA, Australia, Germany, Scotland, and Ethiopia. He served as Board Member of the Bacteriology Division of the International Committee for Microbiology for several years (1974-1981) and was a member of the American Society for Microbiology from 1974-1991. Significantly, as an alumnus of the University of Wisconsin, he was presented in 1974 with a unique award of a signed original copy of the 1932 classic monograph on nitrogen fixation by Fred, Baldwin, and McCoy.
In addition to his scientific contributions, Dr Strydom commanded great respect amongst his colleagues and co‑researchers due to his scientific insight, excellence and rare ability to establish the crux of a problem. He was a mentor for young scientists, and supervised and examined several PhD and MSc studies. His leadership, charisma, sense of humour, and open-heartedness made him a role model for many.
He leaves behind his wife Elsa, four daughters, and ten grandchildren.
Prepared by Prof Dave Berger, Prof Gerhard Pietersen & Dr Santie de Villiers