18 May 2018The ACGT, together with the University of the Witwatersrand, will be hosting the 15th ACGT Regional Plant Biotechnology Forum on the 18th of May 2018. The theme for this forum will be “Plant Genomes: From Plants to Networks”
The keynote address will be delivered by Dr Maria-Cecilia Costa (UCT) and the title for her talk will be “Resurrection networks:insights into desiccation tolerance from gene co-expression networks”.
Dr Eshchar Mizrachi (UP) – Reverse engineering networks of secondary growth and their evolution in plants
Prof Chrissie Rey (Wits) – Plant genes and networks: responses to geminiviruses
Dr Ansie Yssel (UP) – Using a network based approach to interpret molecular profiling data.
Poster presentations are welcomed. Please contact us should you wish you give a poster presentation.
Registration link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/BNRXLK7
31 January 2018
A national Metabolomics Stakeholder Session was held on the 31st of January 2018 at the CSIR International Convention Centre in Pretoria. Representatives from several research institutions from different parts of the country were in attendance. The institutions included the University of Johannesburg, North-West University, University of Pretoria, Tshwane University of Technology, University of the Witwatersrand, Stellenbosch University, University of South Africa and the University of Cape Town. The meeting was intended to serve as a potential platform for the establishment of a formal society or network of South African metabolomics stakeholders. In this session, the benefits and expectations of such a society or network were also tabled.
The event began with presentations from representatives of the various research institutions. The presentations were intended to offer the stakeholders in attendance an opportunity to appreciate the metabolomics research expertise, interests and offerings from the other institutions. The presentations were also an opportunity for the institutions to put on display their strengths and to highlight their needs which could hopefully be addressed by collaborations through the formal establishment of a society or network. Dr Fidele Tugizimana from the University of Johannesburg then presented on the operations and benefits of the International Metabolomics Society (IMS) as he is on several IMS committees.
The presentations were followed by discussions about a path to the establishment of a more formal grouping of metabolomics stakeholders. It was highlighted that one of the goals for forming a society is improving the profile of metabolomics research and technology in South Africa and fostering networking, information sharing, mentoring, career opportunities, leadership training and professional development. Initiating a South African metabolomics network, as opposed to a more involved grouping requiring detailed documentation and significant administrative resources, was preferred due to its simplicity. Such a network will still be recognizable by local bodies as well as the IMS. An affiliation with the international society will be sought following formalization of the structure of the local body. This will provide recognition, ease administration and provide opportunities for bursaries and fellowships associated with the local metabolomics network. It was also agreed that synergies and cooperation with the recently established DIPLOMICS initiative will be explored moving forward.
It was agreed that one of the aims of the network would be to address the lack of an academic forum for metabolomics to provide academic insight and capacity building in the field. It was noted that the network will be more impactful when the members act in a non-fragmented manner; for example, when lobbying for institutional and financial support for positions associated with advancing the technology in the partner institutions. Removing fragmentation would include developing methods that are aligned with IMS standards and would lead to standardization amongst local researchers in the field. This in turn could lead to greater research impact.
There was a clear need for capacity building or collaborations as some institutions seemed to lack the infrastructure or certain expertise. A strong need was expressed to link the metabolomics data analysis component to skilled bioinformaticians. As there is no national event on the research calendar that has a specific metabolomics focus, plans will be put in motion to host annual stand-alone metabolomics symposiums or conferences and will be facilitated by the network. Potential sponsorships were briefly discussed should the network host metabolomics events. A provisional committee comprising at least one representative from each of the institutions present was established. Dr Fidele Tugizimana, who is affiliated with the IMS, will lead the route to formalization of the network. This will be done by collecting and compiling all the necessary paperwork and formalizing the South African Metabolomics Network.
13 June 2017
13 June 2017
University of Pretoria, South Africa
The University of Pretoria will be hosting a QuantStudio Workshop on the 13th of June 2017. Applications on the QuantStudio include: large-scale gene expression analysis, SNP genotyping, microRNA analysis and digital PCR. The workshop will be facilitated by Mrs Kesenthri Moodley (Thermo Scientific) and Mr Stephan Henning (Facility Manager, UP).
Registration is free and no RSVPs will be accepted after the 7th of June 2017.
Please e-mail Mr Stephen Henning to RSVP: email@example.com
7 March 2016 - 24 June 2016
07 March – 11 March 2016
Metabolomics Workshop: From Study Design to Metabolite Annotation
University of Pretoria, South Africa
Metabolomics is now used routinely in a number of applications, including basic and clinical research, microbiology, agriculture, food science, pharmaceutical research, nutrition, environmental science and the development of biofuels. The African Centre for Gene Technologies (ACGT) with kind funding from The Bioinformatics Service Platform(BSP) will host an exciting 5-day Metabolomics workshop using current open-source tools. The workshop aims to provide a platform for discussion of the key questions and challenges in the field of metabolomics, from study design to metabolite identification. The workshop has been designed to include lectures, computer-based tutorial sessions, participant presentations and interactive round table discussion. Confirmed speakers for workshop include:
•Dr. Reza Salek (University of Cambridge)
•Dr. Karl Burgess (University of Glasgow)
•Dr. Ron Wehren (Wageningen University)
•Prof Ian Dubery (University of Johannesburg)
•Dr. Edwin Madala (University of Johannesburg)
•Mr. Fidele Tugizimana (University of Johannesburg)
•Prof Alvaro Viljoen (Tshwane University of Technology)
Fore more information: Click here
06 April – 09 April 2016
Multiple Functions of piRNAs and PIWI Proteins
The piRNA pathway, an RNA-silencing pathway involving small non-coding RNAs and the PIWI proteins -specific Argonaute proteins- has been discovered a few years ago as a defense mechanism against transposable elements. The field is progressing rapidly and a growing number of studies have implicated piRNAs and PIWI proteins in a broad range of functions, including gene and epigenetic regulation, genome rearrangements and stem cell biology. The questions linked to piRNA functions are thus widely expanding. This EMBO Workshop aims to provide a forum to discuss and connect the most recent advances in the different functions of piRNAs and PIWI proteins.
We will address piRNA biogenesis and the role of piRNAs/PIWI proteins in genome defense; epigenetic regulation; stem cell biology; post-transcriptional gene regulation; somatic tissues and cancer; and genome rearrangements.
Click here for more information.
22 June 2016 – 24 June 2016
New Model Systems for Early Land Plant Evolution
Little is known about how early land plants conquered land and the origins of the major features of flowering plants.
Publication of the genome of the filamentous alga Klebsormidium in 2014 and the forecasted publication of the genome of one of the earliest land plants – Marchantia – in 2016 promise tools to understand the major events that enabled the transition from a blue (the reign of algae) to a green (the reign of land plants) planet Earth.
This EMBO Workshop will focus on the development and dissemination of resources for a growing community of researchers interested in this topic. Although work related to Marchantia will be a major topic, this EMBO Workshop will also include seminal studies in orphan groups of land plants ancestors such a charales and other bryophytes including the well established model Physcomitrella and emerging model such as hornworts.
The EMBO Workshop will cover broad aspects including Phylogeny, Genomics, Development, and Epigenetics.
Click here for more information.
2 May 2016 - 14 May 2016
02 May 2016 – 14 May 2016
Bioinformatics and Genome analyses
This EMBO Practical Course will cover different topics involved in genome studies and their corresponding bioinformatics methodological backgrounds. The main topics of the practical course will cover genome comparisons and NGS data analyses including Methods and tools to analyze Meta-genomic and RNA-seq data.
Topics will include:
Genome comparisons, RNAseq and Next Generation Sequencing (including algorithms, methods and sequence mapping tools, data analyses and applications),
Integration of genomic and genetic data in the context of Next Generation Sequencing and their applications in human diseases.
The EMBO Pracitcal Course programme will be centered on theoretical presentations followed by practical sessions where the same speaker will ensure theory and practice. Practical sessions in a Linux environment will involve Unix shell and perl scripting. Participants should be familiar with this environment.
Similar course programmes and organizations can be found at this link:
Who can attend the EMBO Practical Course:
This practical course is aimed at motivated PhD students and young researchers from academic Institutions with a background in Mathematics, Statistics, Computing and/or Biology who are involved in Bioinformatics and Genome Analyses projects. The EMBO Practical Course is intense, therefore active participation is expected from the students.
Click here for more information.
1 March 2014 - 31 March 2014
The ACGT partnered with Dr Maretha O’Kennedy from the CSIR’s Biosciences Unit to organise the 2nd Regional Plant Biotechnology Forum of 2013. This was the ACGT’s 8th Regional Plant Forum, which saw 44 delegates convening at the CSIR’s Knowledge Commons.
The theme for the Forum was “Plant-Based Biologics”. The delegates that attended the forum included individuals from higher education institutions, science councils, funding agencies as well as industry. The majority of the delegates that attended the forum hailed from the ACGT partner institutions. The keynote speaker for the forum, Dr Ann Meyers, was from The University of Cape Town, and she gave a stimulating talk entitled: “Blue tongue virus-like particle vaccine candidate production in plants”. Dr Meyers’ main research interests are the expression of veterinary vaccines and diagnostic reagents in plants and she is currently involved in projects including the production of such pharmaceuticals to target Rift Valley Fever virus, BTV and Crimean Congo haemorrhagic fever.
The other speakers included Dr Tsepo Tsekoa (CSIR Biosciences) who spoke on “Downstream processing of plant-made proteins: Capacity at CSIR Biosciences and a case study”, Mr Boet Weyers (OBP Vaccines) who delivered the talk “Development of a subunit vaccine for sheep and goat (POC)”, Dr Bridget Crampton (UP) on “Gene mining South Africa’s plant diversity” and Ms Therese Stark on “Plant-based biologics at CSIR”. The forum was rounded off by Drs Tsepo Tsekoa and Michael Crampton giving the delegates a tour of the CSIR’s Biomanufacturing Industry Development Centre (BIDC).
The Forum gave delegates an insight into the current research initiatives and capabilities at the various institutions, as well as the capacity for downstream processing at the CSIR’s newly founded BIDC. For more information, visit http://biomanufacturing.csir.co.za/
Plans for the 9th Regional Plant Biotechnology Forum are underway and the forum is expected to take place in March 2014 at the Agricultural Research Council. Keep an eye on the ACGT Events page for more information on the next plant forum. For suggestions regarding future topics and presenters, please contact Mr Thabo Khoza at az.oc1531895071.risc1531895071@1azo1531895071hKT1531895071.
1 September 2013 - 30 September 2013
Two DST-sponsored Proteomics Workshops were held in Cape Town and Pretoria recently. The workshops were organised by ACGT, in conjunction with UWC/ARC and CSIR/UP, respectively.
The workshops had the same programme; which included two days of lecturing and an experimental design consideration session, at which participants had to brainstorm different options for a given biological question. The solution had to be answered by a proteomics approach. The third day was set aside for round table discussions, whereby attendees could discuss their projects with experts in the field. The topics included experimental design, sample preparation and quantitation. This afforded course attendees the opportunity to discuss their own research projects and any considerations that may impact the outcome thereof.
The workshops were facilitated by Professor Kathryn Lilley, of the Cambridge Centre for Proteomics, a world-leading scientist in the field. Dr Stoyan Stoychev, of CSIR Biosciences, also presented lectures on sample preparation considerations for proteomics.
The courses were well attended by stakeholders from a variety of research-intensive institutions in South Africa; which included the ARC, CSIR, National Zoological Gardens, K-RITH; and the Universities of Cape Town, Stellenbosch, the Western Cape, Fort Hare, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Limpopo, South Africa, the Witwatersrand as well as Vaal University of Technology. Extremely positive feedback from the delegates regarding the facilitator and course content was received. The round table discussions, a new addition to the workshop programme for 2013, was especially well received.
The community has also initiated discussions around optimal usage of available proteomics expertise and equipment. Student mobility between institutions to access the appropriate proteomics hardware and expertise is high on the agenda of priorities to further research in this field. Another outcome of the workshops was the establishment of a Proteomics LinkedIn group (Proteomics SA).
The planning for the next instalment of workshops for 2014 is currently underway.
13 September 2013
The ACGT recently joined forces with the Mhlanga lab (CSIR) to host the 3rd Regional Synthetic Biology Forum. The event took place on the 13th of September 2013 at the CSIR Knowledge commons in Pretoria. Inqaba Biotec graciously sponsored the event.
The theme this year was “Infectious Diseases and Micro RNA’s”. Dr Rachel Chikwamba (CSIR Executive) welcomed delegates and strongly emphasized the need to create critical mass in this emerging research field. Moreover, she highlighted the impact of harnessing the new disciplines and technologies in addressing problems relating to health on the African continent.
University of Georgia’s Prof Mark S Tompkins delivered the key note address which focused on regulation of host responses to influenza virus infection. Prof Marco Weinberg (Wits/Scripps Research Institute) enlightened the audience on harnessing the miRNA biogenesis pathway for novel therapeutics. Emerging researchers, Dr Janine Scholefield (CSIR) and Mr Jerolen Naidoo (CSIR), presented equally insightful talks on cellular engineering for modelling infectious diseases and high content microscopy based-screens which revealed miRNA’s which suppress HIV-1 infection, respectively. Other speakers on the day included Dr Musa Mhlanga (CSIR) and Dr Alex Sigal (K-RITH). The day was concluded with a panel discussion on the controversy, ethics and public acceptance of Synthetic Biology.
The forum certainly delivered in its promise to showcase novel, innovative research and the future applications of Synthetic Biology. Discussions are currently underway to ascertain how best the synergies and complementary expertise in this field can best be exploited.
9 April 2013
The 1st of the biannual plant forums for the year 2013 took place on the 9th of April and was hosted by the University of Pretoria (UP) at the new Plant Sciences Complex building. The ACGT teamed up with Dr Bridget Crampton from the host institution to form an organising committee for this forum.
From the previous successful forums, it was noted that delegates wanted to have forums that were more focused, as plant biotechnology is a very broad field. The organising committee went through the suggestions that delegates from the previous forums had given, and decided on a theme for the 7th Plant Forum: “High throughput sequencing: Applications in plant sciences”.
Dr Shane Murray from the University of Cape Town (and associated with the CPGR) was identified as the event’s keynote speaker. Dr Murray is the project scientist and plant genomics project manager for several projects, including some TIA-funded projects. At the forum Dr Murray presented an enlightening talk titled “ MicroRNA and transcriptome analysis of field-grown Vitis vinifera infected with GLRaV-3 and aster yellows phytoplasma”. Dr Murray was joined by three other speakers from the ACGT partner institutions who presented their work. The speakers, Ms Erika Viljoen (ARC); Mrs Bianca Reeksting (UP) and Ms Farhahna Schalk (Wits) all gave captivating talks which kept the 66 forum attendees intrigued. The attendees were from the five ACGT partner institutions (UP, Wits, CSIR, ARC and UJ) as well as surrounding institutions (UNISA and TIA) which makes the forum a truly regional event.
The event also included an interactive poster session which saw young researchers as well as lead investigating professors present their research in a form of brief oral presentations.
The success of the forum is drawn from the attendees’ responses regarding the talks as well as increased interest in collaboration and the use of high throughput sequencing applications in plant biology. It was very evident that the capacity in this exciting research area is rapidly expanding on the partnership.
The forum was generously sponsored by Inqaba Biotec. The next forum will be held in October 2013 at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. Keep an eye on the ACGT events page for more information on the next plant forum.
To view the presentations, click on the respective links below:
- Dr Shane Murray (UCT) – MicroRNA and Transcriptome analysis of field-grown Vitis vinifera infected with GLRaV-3 and aster yellows phytoplasma.
- Ms Erika Viljoen (ARC) – Progress in sequencing Amaranthus tricolor and chloroplast genome phytogenetics.
- Mrs Bianca Reeksting (UP) – Sequencing avocado transcriptome.
- Ms Farhahna van Schalk (Wits) – Monitoring transcriptional changes in cassava infected with South African cassava mosaic virus –[South Africa:99] using next generation sequencing.
To view more photos of the event, please go to the ACGT Facebook page
12 October 2012
The 6th Regional Plant Biotechnology Forum will be held on the 12th of October 2012 at the University of Johannesburg. Speakers on the day include Prof Ian Dubery (UJ), Dr Maretha O’Kenedy (CSIR) and Dr Heino Heyman (UP). The detailed programme, including all presenters will be circulated shortly. The Forum is sponsored by Shimadzu, there is no registration fee and all refreshments will be provided.
To register for this event click here
3 October 2012 - 5 October 2012
The 3rd Preteomics Symposium & Workshop will take place on the 03-05 October 2012 at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Main Campus, Pretoria.
A one-day symposium will be followed by a two-day workshop for a limited number of participants. The workshop will be guided by Professor Kathryn Lilley, director of the Cambridge Centre for Proteomics, and will focus on the design of quantitative proteomic experiments. The aim of the workshop is to provide participants with information on how to design robust proteomic workflows, as well as identify areas of variability that may impact on the conclusions drawn from an experiment.
The one-day symposium will consist of oral as well as poster presentations. We encourage students and researchers alike to present their work in order to showcase Proteomics-based research within South Africa and build collaborations.
This event will be hosted by the ACGT and the CSIR and is generously been sponsored by the Department of Science and Technology. Registration for the event is free and all refreshments will be provided. Registration closes on the 28th of September 2012. For more information and to register click here
27 July 2012
The 2nd Regional Synthetic Biology Forum will take place on the 27th of July 2012 at the Irene Country Lodge. This forum will be hosted by the ACGT and the University of the Witwatersrand.
Guest speaker, Dr Riaan Den Haan (University of Stellenbosch) and Dr Karl Rumbold (University of the Witwatersrand) will present talks on Metabolic Engineering. An interactive poster session will also be held at the forum. Please see the programme for more information.
The even has generously been sponsored by Carl Zeiss. Registration for the event is free and all refreshments will be provided. Registration closes on the 20th of July 2012. To register click here. For more information contact Ms Jessika Samuels.
27 July 2012
The ACGT recently teamed up with Wits to host the 2nd Regional Synthetic Biology Forum. Held at the picturesque Irene Country Lodge on the 27th of July 2012, the forum was generously sponsored by Carl Zeiss.
With a strong emphasis on metabolic engineering, the second instalment of the regional synthetic biology forums delivered in highlighting research in this area currently being undertaken both regionally at ACGT partner institute, WITS and nationally by the University of Stellenbosch. Guest speaker Dr Riaan Den Haan (University of Stellenbosch) presented his current research on the engineering of yeast cells for next generation ethanol production. Dr Karl Rumbold (Wits/co-organiser) outlined his research on the metabolic engineering of Streptomyces. The forum also featured a talk entitled the iGEM experience by Ms Gloria Hlongwe who was part of the iGEM 2011 Team. Ms Hlongwe rendered a very moving talk on the trials, tribulations and personal development and achievements of being part of the South African iGEM team. Ms Hazel Mufhandu and Ms Busisiwe Twala, both of the Emerging Health Technologies Platform at CSIR, presented talks on aptamers targeting HIV-1 entry and preparation of a self-contained, bi-enzymatic NADH co-factor recycling particle system respectively. Both talks highlighted key findings of Ms Mufhandu’s and MsTwala’s research as postgraduate scholars at the CSIR. The forum also featured and interactive poster session, which resulted in much active engagement between delegates and poster presenters. The day was drawn to a close by ACGT centre manager Dr John Becker.
For more information on the talks features at this forum click on the links below. You can also visit the ACGT’s Facebook page for more snapshots of the event.
- Engineering yeasts for next generation ethanol production (Dr Riaan Den Haan – SU)
- Metabolic engineering of Streptomyces (Dr Karl Rumbold – Wits)
- Wits-CSIR iGEM 2011 (Ms Gloria Hlongwane – Wits)
- Aptamers targeting HIV-1 entry (Ms Hazel Mufhandu – CSIR)
23 April 2012
Held on the 23rd of April 2012, ACGT partners once again gathered under the auspice of the 5th ACGT Regional Plant Biotechnology Forum. The event was held at the Wits Professional Development Hub, Johannesburg. The forum showcased research on plant biotechnology research currently being undertaken at ACGT partner institutions. The event was graciously sponsored by Inqaba Biotec. (more…)
29 January 2012 - 1 February 2012
The South African Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology/ Federation of African Societies of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology will be hosting a congress from the 29th January to the 1st of February 2012. The congress will be hosted at the Champagne Sports Resort, Drakensberg, Kwa-Zulu Natal. The call for abstracts has been announced. For further information on deadlines, registration dates and accommodation visit the SASBMB/FASBMB website.
24 August 2011
Venue: CSIR- Knowledge Commons, Pretoria
The ACGT and CSIR will be hosting a Synthetic Biology Forum on the 24th of August 2011. The programme includes presentations on the South African BioDesign Initiative, iGEM and the current synthetic biology initiatives at CSIR and WITS. The keynote address will be given by Prof Julian Kinderlerer on the ethical issues of synthetic biology. The event is generously sponsored by Inqaba Biotec. Please see the programme for more details. To RSVP contact John Becker or Jessika Samuels before the 19th of August 2011. Also indicate if you be attending the tour of the synthetic biology facilities at CSIR.