Department of Biochemistry
The Department of Biochemistry has several of active research groups, each making a significant contribution to biochemistry and science as a whole (refer to our latest publication list). Our research laboratories house state of the art research instrumentation and facilities and are managed by highly trained technical staff, all essential for maintaining a high standard in biochemical research. Our postgraduate students gain valuable laboratory experience in the latest research techniques enabling them to combine both knowledge and experience successfully.
The Department is also host to a Research Chair in Mechanistic Modelling of Health and Epidemiology as part of the South African Research Chair Initiative (SARChI).
FIELDS of research
The Department does internationally competitive research and our postgraduate programmes focus specifically on research in the fields below.
Systems biology and bioinformatics
The theory of control analysis is integrated with computer simulation and experiment and applied to prokaryotic and eukaryotic metabolism in order to better understand its regulation and control.
Natural products and their biological effects
The effects of biologically
active natural products on steroid receptor signalling, related to conditions
such as menopause, cancer, and type II diabetes, and cytochrome P450-dependent
enzyme systems and other steroid binding proteins, as well as on eukaryotic
signal transfer and gene expression, are studied on a fundamental level.
antimicrobials for industry and medicine
Discovery of natural antimicrobial
compounds, such as antibiotics, biocides and antimicrobial peptides, using a
high throughput omic-based biomining approach. The most potent antimicrobial hits
are characterised for lead identification and development. Leads are formulated
for application in nanomedicine, self-sterilising materials and antimicrobial
solutions, for application in medicine, food industries and agricultural
Applied research for industry and medicine
Applied research is done on
malaria, plant hormones, plant resistance and pathogen detection, and to
develop membrane applications for the monitoring and improvement of water
quality, e.g. in industrial effluent treatment.
ENZYMOLOGY, STRUCTURAL BIOLOGY AND DRUG DISCOVERY
The mechanism of enzymes
and their importance in physiological systems - especially those active in
cofactor biosynthesis and protein folding - is studied using a
multidisciplinary approach that involves the use of chemical probes and
structural elucidation. The information and knowledge gained in this manner issused
to identify biomarkers and develop new antimicrobial agents.
STERIOD HORMONES IN HEALTH AND DISEASE
Applied research is
performed on steroid hormone biosynthesis, metabolism and downstream action via
steroid receptors in order to understand and develop treatments for steroid
related conditions and diseases including menopause, type 2 diabetes, HIV-1,
adiposity, breast and prostate cancer.