One of Stellenbosch University's top researchers, Prof Resia Pretorius of the Department of Physiological Sciences, was honoured with the Department of Science and Technology (DST)'s Women in Science Award on Thursday (17 August 2017).
Pretorius finished second in the category: Distinguished Women Scientist in Natural Sciences and Engineering.
The annual awards ceremony was held in Johannesburg as part of the department's celebration of Women's Month. The theme for this year's Women in Sciences Awards was “Women`s Economic Empowerment in the changing world of work".
According to the organisers, these awards are aimed at profiling women scientists and researchers as role models for younger scientists and researchers and to encourage and reward younger women who are starting their careers as emerging researchers and scientists.
Pretorius won the Women in Science Award for her work on how various inflammatory molecules affect red blood cells and blood clotting as well as the role of these molecules in the development of inflammation.
She and her team showed that tiny amounts of molecules in the wall of the bacterial cell can cause blood to form clots and that this contribute to chronic inflammation that is part of many supposedly non-infectious diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.
Pretorius' research has led to a better understanding of and new discoveries regarding the functioning of cells, proteins and processes that mediate blood clotting during inflammation.
Pretorius says that she wants to “translate her basic research findings into clinical practice in order to reduce the global burden of disease and death due to the formation of blood clots in various inflammatory conditions." Abnormal blood clotting can lead to strokes, heart attacks and deep vein thrombosis (blood clots forming in legs or arms).
“I strive to facilitate a vital mind-shift in the understanding of inflammation, by developing new approaches using basic research to study the role of blood clotting in inflammatory diseases."
In addition to the Women in Science Awards, Pretorius won the prestigious African Union Kwame Nkrumah Scientific Award in 2011 in the category: Women Scientist in Basic Science and Technology.
Rated by the National Research Foundation and considered a leading international researcher in her field, Pretorius has published extensively in high impact international academic journals and has 8 book chapters to her name. She also published in popular magazines such as Time and New Scientist. She has supervised 40 masters and doctoral students.
Finalists for this year's awards competed in five categories, namely Distinguished Women Researchers (with subcategories), Distinguished Young Women Researchers, Research and Innovation leading to Socio-Economic Impact and/or Empowerment of Women, DST Fellowships (masters students and doctoral students) as well as the TATA Africa Scholarships for masters students in Science, Engineering and Technology.