In 2006, Biopad, as subsidiary of the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), was tasked with the establishment of ‘omics’ technology in South Africa. Through the initiatives of Prof Carolus Reinecke, the NWU biochemistry group was selected to host the metabolomics platform due to the extensive expertise of the group in metabolic analysis and profiling. This fruitful partnership resulted in a significant investment by both Biopad and the NWU into the future of the biochemistry group. In 2007 the NWU also approved the establishment of the Centre for Human Metabolomics (CHM) as a centre of competence in accordance with the requirements of Biopad after an external evaluation was conducted in 2006.
To the end of 2010 Biopad, as well as various other subsidiaries was seeded into TIA which brought about a renewed intensified focus on metabolomics. It became clear that TIA would in future invest most of its funding in applied metabolomics research, meant to bridge the gap between basic research and commercialization. TIA committed to the establishment of a National Metabolomics Platform (NMP) to be hosted at the NWU and subsequently provide substantial funding for the future development of the facility including funding for equipment, operational expenses and investment in human capital. Construction of the facility that will host the platform commenced at the end of 2011 and was completed in September 2012.
In July 2015, a new research entity was established, the focus area: Human Metabolomics (FHM), under the directorship of Prof Du Toit Loots, with its focus being basic and applied metabolomics and systems biology research, and that of the CHM, under the directorship of Prof Chris Vorster to commercialize the developed methodologies or research findings. These ventures were achieved together by TIA, the National Research Foundation (NRF), and other private funders.
Focus/Vision and Strategic Aim
The goal of the Focus Area: Human Metabolomics (FHM) is to be internationally recognized and nationally regarded for its outstanding Metabolomics research contribution to health issues that are of national and international importance, and to commercialize its expertise within the innovative framework of the North-West University (NWU) through its association with the Centre for Human Metabolomics (CHM) and the National Metabolomics Platform (NMP).
To fulfil our vision, all members of the group are encouraged to strive for scholarship according to their talent, and through transparent and participatory management to create a working environment in which all can develop to their full potential. Furthermore, it is our commitment to pursue our vision in synergy with that of the North-West University (NWU), by contributing towards research and postgraduate education according to the following mission statements:
- Advanced education and training of students towards intellectual and technological competencies within the focus of our expertise, with an entrepreneurial orientation to enable them to act in society as worthy citizens of our country;
- Performing research of such quality as may be expected from an academic environment of repute, and relevant to the needs of our country and society;
- Rendering service, based on our intellectual and technological expertise, to the mutual benefit of all those who participate in it.