Stellenbosch University Immunology Research GroupWelcome
The Stellenbosch University Immunology Research Group (SU-IRG) is a multi-disciplinary academic team of scientists, doctors, nurses, laboratory personnel and students, led by Prof Gerhard Walzl.
SU-IRG was established in 2002 within the Division of Molecular Biology & Human Genetics, Department of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences, at Stellenbosch University. The Immunology Research Group has since been involved in numerous international and local research collaborations, contributing amongst others, to the fields of Immunology, tuberculosis, diabetes and HIV. Our main focus as a specialist Tuberculosis Immunology Group is biomarker identification.
The SU-IRG works in conjunction with the Molecular Biology Clinical Research Unit (MBCRU), which was established in 2016. The MBCRU is responsible for all clinical trial operations involving volunteer study participants. This includes recruitment, enrolment and follow-up of participants, as well as sample collection and the collection of clinical data.
SU-IRG comprises several research focus areas, each investigating a different immunological aspect of TB disease. The main focus of SU-IRG is to identify immune biomarkers that can be taken forward into future trials for novel diagnostics, new treatment regimens and vaccines. We work with several international consortia and with several US, European and African partners on large cohorts of participants with well-characterized TB infection and disease phenotypes to search for biomarkers of TB infection and disease. In addition to research, excellence, SU-IRG is passionate about education in Immunology and produce several doctoral, masters and honours graduates annually.
Our laboratory team processes a range of sample types from participants, including serum, urine, saliva, sputum, exhaled breath condensate, broncho-alveolar lavage, stool, pleural fluid and cerebrospinal fluid, depending on specific studies. Sample storage takes place in minus 80⁰C freezers and liquid nitrogen tanks and sample management is performed through customized, open-source databases with a laboratory data management system. We have recently obtained a Hamilton BiOS which will be used for all future -80⁰C sample storage.
We routinely perform the following assays:
- Quantiferon TB Gold Plus
- GeneXpert Ultra
- PBMC Isolation and Cryopreservation
- Whole blood stimulation
- Flow cytometric analyses (8-colour)
- RNA Extraction
- Multiplex cytokine arrays (Luminex platform)
Our Quality Statement
SU-IRG is committed to good professional practice through quality in research and service. This commitment to quality is realized throughout the research process, from sample collection to the publication and reporting of results. We are ISO 15189 accredited (M0498) by the South African National Accreditation System (SANAS), which proves our commitment to establishing and maintaining a quality research laboratory capable of conducting excellent research, including clinical trials.
As part of this commitment to quality standards, our laboratory has enrolled in
external proficiency schemes for specialized immunological procedures, including Quantiferon, as well as Luminex, GeneXpert, Flow Cytometry
and PBMC isolation and cryopreservation.