Stellenbosch University
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A world-class biomedical research facility in Africa, for Africa
Author: FMHS Marketing & Communications / FGGW Bemarking & Kommunikasie – Wilma Stassen
Published: 20/04/2023

​​South African Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Mr Buti Manamela, commended Stellenbosch University (SU) on its visionary leadership in establishing the cutting-edge Biomedical Research Institute (BMRI) – which will not only benefit the people of South Africa, but the entire African continent.

“Building on SU's long tradition of world-class research, the creation of this state-of-the-art facility is a very important milestone in our efforts to strengthen our national system of innovation, and more specifically, the health research innovation and infrastructure of both our country and our continent," Manamela said at the inauguration of SU's BMRI. This facility is the most advanced biomedical research complex on the African continent and is focussed on finding solutions to some of the most pressing health issues affecting people in South Africa and the rest of Africa.

Manamela officiated the opening of this R1,2 billion (approximately US$ 66 million) facility during a gala dinner, held last night (19 April 2023) at the BMRI on SU's Tygerberg campus in Cape Town. The event formed part of a week-long programme hosted by SU's Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences to introduce the new facility to the public and the global and local scientific community.

“The BMRI is not just a facility – it represents a new way of doing science on the African continent. It is a symbol of our commitment to using science to create a better future for all," SU Rector, Prof Wim de Villiers said in his address. “We believe that the BMRI will be a catalyst for change, leading the way in the fight against disease and promoting the health and well-being of people throughout the continent."

The BMRI houses more than 500 biomedical researchers and students, including some of the world's foremost scientists in the fields of bioinformatics, tuberculosis, neuroscience, and urology. The leading-edge research emanating from the facility has a decidedly African focus and seeks to understand the genetic and biomolecular basis of diseases afflicting South Africa and the rest of the African continent, such as tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and cardio-metabolic disorders.

The BMRI boasts numerous state-of-the-art laboratories, including the largest (600 m2) biosafety level 3 (BSL-3) laboratory and fully automated biorepository in Africa, a bioinformatics hub, electron microscopy laboratories, proteomics and flow cytometry services (FACS) laboratories, a medical morphological learning centre; a Sunskill laboratory, and clinical research facilities.

“We see the creation of this facility by SU as an important addition to our country's scientific resources. The research focus of the facility aligns perfectly with the objectives of government policy – the White Paper on Science, Technology and Innovation and the decadal plan – which aims to strengthen our country's national system of innovation, to the benefit of all," said Manamela.

Caption: Prof Wim de Villiers (SU Rector and Vice-Chancellor), Prof Elmi Muller (Dean of SU's Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences) and Deputy Minister for Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Mr Buti Manamela, cutting the ribbon at the BMRI's inauguration.

Photo credit: Nardus Engelbrecht