History of the Research Group

The group was formed in 2001 with the aim of forming a specialist research group to study and provide biochemical diagnostic capacity for mitochondrial- and other inherited metabolic diseases in South Africa.  Over two decades this research aim expanded in scope to now include a wide range of investigations in several types of disease models, including enzymology, functional bioenergetics, molecular genetics, metabolomics, transcriptomics and cell biology. Its research focus falls well within the historic expertise of inherited metabolic disorders and human metabolism of the division of Biochemistry, but also expanded to study mitochondria and mitochondrial DNA’s involvement in non-communicable diseases.

The group consists of four permanent academic staff members, generally one or two postdoctoral fellows and around 16 post graduate students. Approximately 40 post graduate students have completed their degrees in our group. The group prides itself to have a very active and open approach to collaboration and has active national and international collaborators who play a key role in the multidisciplinary nature of our research.

The main laboratory (Room 205) was built in 2002 on the second floor of the Biochemistry (F3) building, with the recent addition of a dedicated molecular biology laboratory (Room 209) on the same floor. The main laboratory consists of an outside separate work station for staff and students, a central laboratory and an additional tissue/cell culture laboratory. The laboratories are set up for a wide range of work, including general biochemical, specialist bioenergetics, molecular and cell biology, metabolic and cell/tissue culture work. Much of the specialised work (e.g. DNA/RNA sequencing and metabolomics) is done elsewhere in the building. The laboratory is also frequently used for teaching and training of undergraduate and honours students.  

The group has frequent research meetings, journal club meetings, and has hosted a number of seminars and symposia on the topic of our research.