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​Distinguished Prof. Kathy H Myburgh

National Research Foundation: Research Niche Area for Integrative Skeletal 

Muscle Biology​

About the MRG

Our research on the cellular and molecular aspects of muscle regeneration after injury is focused on human muscle cells, small laboratory animal models and cell culture, including primary muscle-specific stem cells. ​

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​The MRG's interests include:

  • Acute and long-term adaptations in humans to delayed onset of muscle soreness, with or without training interventions.
  • The immune system and connective tissue during the resolution of muscle injury, with the current focus on neutrophils and fibroblasts in an attempt to understand both their positive and negative influences.
  • We probe extracellular vesicles dynamics in response to muscle damaging exercise in human volunteers, rats and in cell culture.
  • Primary human myoblasts isolated from muscle biopsies are probed for activation and fusion, with a current interest in the pre-fusion protein, Kirrel.
  • Cell culture models include co-culture of myoblasts and fibroblasts or neutrophils.  ​

The Mission of the MRG is to:

  • Develop an international standard research platform, including up to date equipment and techniques.
  • Deliver research that is internationally competitive and relevant; locally relevant and of potential benefit to athletes or persons suffering from muscle diseases.



CURRENT Senior Group Members

Postdoctoral Fellows
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Dr Jandre Bezuidenhout

Research areas: Extracellular vesicle dynamics in relation to exercise. Electron microscopy of skeletal muscle damage. 

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Dr Rhys McColl

Research areas: Extracellular vesicles characterisation. Skeletal muscle pre-fusion protein, Kirrel: in vitro experiments using different genetic engineering models. 

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Lisha van Onselen

Research area: Lisha's research involves elite runners who will participate in multiple days of high intensity treadmill exercise, with a focus on neutrophil activation, subsequent culture and extracellular vesicle release.

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Carol Mahachi

Research area: Carol's research first took place in the clinical setting at Tygerberg hospital, studying neutrophil associated damage in models of kidney disease. This research has expanded to included the acute setting of exercise.

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Kyle Hagemann

Research area: Kyle is investigating the preferential uptake of EV's in myoblasts, specifically comparing the uptake of EV's derived from myoblasts versus EV's derived from fibroblasts.



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Michael Cowley

Research area: Michael's project involves different grades of unilateral eccentric exercise inducing delayed onset muscle soreness. Satellite cell activation status forms the focus of the biopsy analysis.

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John Hingle

Research area: John's project involves determining the effect of small EVs released from paced C2C12 myotubes on myogenesis and repair in vitro. He is interested in investigating the change in the profile and cargo of small EVs released in non-paced versus paced myotubes.​

​National and International Research Collaborators:


  • 2022-2024: University of Nebraska, Lincoln: Ass Prof I Vechetti
  • 2021-2024:  University of Palermo, Italy Ass Prof F Macaluso, Dr F Scalia
  • 2024: McMaster University, Canada: Ms Mai Wageh


  • Long term ongoing: University of KwaZulu-Natal: Prof Carola Niesler
  • Long term ongoing: Afrobodies: Dr Peter Durcan

Recent and noteworthy publications:

  • Gudagudi, KB, d'Entrèves, NP, Ollewagen, T, Myburgh, KH. Total mRNA and primary human myoblasts' in vitro cell cycle progression distinguishes between clones. Biochimie 2022 196, pp. 161-170.
  • Steyn P, Dzobo K, Smith RI, Myburgh KH. Interleukin-6 induces myogenic differentiation via JAK2-STAT3 signaling in primary human myoblasts from healthy donors. Int.J.Mol.Sci. 2019, 20, 5273, 1-30.
  • Lovett JAC, Durcan PJ, Myburgh KH.  Investigation of Circulating Extracellular Vesicle MicroRNA Following Two Consecutive Bouts of Muscle-Damaging Exercise. Front Physiol. 2018 Aug 20;9:1149. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2018.01149
  • Isaacs, AW, Myburgh, KH, Macaluso, F. Low-volume squat jump training improves functional performance independent of myofibre changes in inactive young male individuals. Healthcare (Switzerland) 2022 10(7),1217. P1-13.
  • Sibisi, NC, Snyman, C, Myburgh, KH, Niesler, CU. Evaluating the role of nitric oxide in myogenesis in vitro. Biochimie 2022 196, pp. 216-224
  • Scalia F, Barone R, Rappa F, Marino Gammazza A, Lo Celso F, Lo Bosco G, Barone G, Antona V, Vadalà M, Vitale AM, Donato Mangano G, Amato D, Sentiero G, Macaluso F, Myburgh KH, Conway de Macario E, Macario AJ, Giuffrè M and Cappello F. Muscle histopathological abnormalities in a patient with a CCT5 mutation predicted to affect the apical domain of the chaperonin subunit. Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences 2022 9,887336. P2-14.
  • Gudagudi K, Passerin d'Entreves N, Woudberg NJ, Steyn PJ, Myburgh KH. In vitro induction of quiescence in isolated primary human myoblasts. Cytotechnology 2020 72:189–202.
  • Ollewagen, T, Tarr, GS, Myburgh, KH, Reuter, H, Smith, C. Therapeutic benefit in rheumatoid cachexia illustrated using a novel primary human triple cell coculture model. International Journal of Inflammation 2022,1524913. P1-14.
  • Gudagudi KB and KH Myburgh. Methods to mimic in vivo muscle cell biology in primary human myoblasts using quiescence as a guidepost in regenerative medicine research. OMICS A Journal of Integrative Biology https://doi.org/10.1089/omi.2020.0211 2021.
  • T Ollewagen; KH Myburgh; M van de Vyver; Carine Smith. Rheumatoid cachexia: the underappreciated role of myoblast, macrophage and fibroblast interplay in the skeletal muscle niche. Journal of Biomedical Sciences 2021; 28:15 (p 1-16) https://doi.org/10.1186/s12929-021-00714-w

More information regarding the groups endeavours and Awards:

​​International Travel

​Award Winners

Dr Peter Durcan
  • France – Genethon 2017     
  • Greece – RISE 2017
Miss Tayla Faulmann
  • Slovenia – Conference 2017                     
  • Germany – Mannheim University 2017
Mrs Carol Mahachi
  • England – Plymouth University 2017
Mr Jason Lovett                                             
  • ​Spain – ISEV 2018

​Pre conference workshop:​

Miss Tracey Ollewagen
  • USA – ACSM conference 2018                  
  • Germany – Mannheim University 2018
Mr Kiran Gudagudi
  • Japan – TERMIS conference 2018  
Mr Rhys McColl
  • Italy – GRC Myogenesis 2019
​Mr Christopher Reeves
  • ​Indian Ocean Rim Muscle - Colloquium poster 1st place 2016
Mr Kiran Gudagudi
  • lCTERM Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine - poster 2nd place 2017 
Mr Niccolo Passerin
  • ​ICTERM poster 2nd place 2017 
Miss Tracey Ollewagen
  • PSSA Johnny van der Walt (poster) 2nd place 2016
  • PSSA Wyndham (oral) 2nd place 2017
  • ACSM International Student Travel Award 2018
Mrs Carol Mahachi
  • ​L’Oreal Women in Science Scholarship 2017 
Mr Jason Lovett                                             
  • Germany – European Molecular      
  • Labs EMBL – Travel ​grant
Miss M Rawlins
  • PSSA Poster 2nd place 2021

Highlight previous group members - Current employment


  • Dr P Durcan – Chief Scientific Officer, Afrobodies
  • Dr F Macaluso – Associate Professor, Univ Palermo
  • Dr N Woudberg - Head of Scientific Strategies, Synexa Life Sciences
  • Dr J Bezuidenhout – Medical Scientist (Cellular Assays & Quality), TASK Applied Sciences


  • Prof T Kohn – Full Professor, Univ Western Cape
  • Prof C Smith – Full Professor, Univ Stellenbosch
  • Dr M van de Vyver – Senior Researcher, Internal Medicine, SU Tygerberg
  • Dr A Isaacs – Senior Technical Officer, Anatomy, UCT
  • Dr P Steyn – Chief Technical Officer, Human Biology, UCT
  • Dr K Gudagudi – Academic Head, Jain (Deemed-to-be University), India
  • Dr T Ollewagen – Postdoc, SU Tygerberg


  • JD Conradie – Research Engineer, LifeQ, Inc
  • C Sugden – Data Science Manager, LifeQ, Inc
  • E Knight – Scientist, Neural Sense (PTY) Ltd (Neuromarketing)
  • M Rawlins – Laboratory/Research Assistant, SU ​

MPhil (Exercise science):

  • M Flinn – Managing Director, Cape Epic (Pty) Ltd

Recent Events

Extracellular vesicles: Seminars and workshop in the context regenerative medicine ​​

STIAS, Stellenbosch,  22 to 23 February 2023

Read the full articel on the event: https://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=9833.

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