A delegation of high-level German visitors, including the German Vice Chancellor, recently met with top Stellenbosch University (SU) scientists at the new state-of-the-art Biomedical Research Institute (BMRI) at the university's Tygerberg Campus in Cape Town.
“I am very impressed," the German Vice Chancellor, Dr Robert Habeck, said after a whirlwind tour of the BMRI facility and discussions with, amongst others, SU's top bioinformatician Prof Tulio de Oliveira, about crucial research SU is conducting regarding the global epidemic response.
The visit – which also included various members of the German cabinet and parliament, the German ambassador and consul general in South Africa, as well as a large business delegation and press – followed on a recent visit by De Oliveira to Germany to receive the German Africa Prize from the Federal Chancellor, Olaf Scholz. During his visit in late November, De Oliveira held talks with the federal German Minister for Health, various members of the German Federal Parliament and fellow scientists.
The delegates were taken on a tour through the brand new, state-of-the-art BMRI facility at SU's Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS), which is the most advanced biomedical research facility on the African continent and cost well over a R1 billion to construct. It boasts with world-class research laboratories and equipment, including two Illumina Novaseq DNA sequencing platforms – the largest of their kind in the world. Delegates were also given a demonstration at the laboratories of the Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation (CERI), which played a crucial role in tracking variant during the Covid-19 pandemic, and works on pandemic prevention in Africa and the rest of the world.
Habeck, who is also the German Federal Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Action, said he was “shocked" after De Oliveira explained the impact that climate change is having on disease outbreaks and epidemics.
The visit is part of an effort to stimulate collaboration between South African/African institutions and Germany and to explore investment opportunities to advance important research efforts on the African continent.