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 industries.
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.
STERoiD 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.