Bioinformatics Facility at Wits

Wits Bioinformatics, lead by Acting Director, Dr. Scott Hazelhurst, is situated on the 12th Floor of University Corner. Wits Bioinformatics has a core of academics, postdoctoral fellows and postgrads. The team works with researchers across Wits, who are part of their  community.

They teach the following formal courses as part of various curricula:

  • Introduction to bioinformatics: this is a two-week intensive module taught in various honours programmes: Molecular and Cell Biology; Human Genetics; Molecular Medicine and Haematology.
  • Computational Molecular Biology: honours module in computer science
  • From 2013 there will also be an undergraduate course.

They also coordinate and teach a number of short courses throughout the year. For ore information on the events hosted by the Bioinformatics Facility at Wits click here.

Research in bioinformatics is done in a number of schools across Wits and the facility plays a coordinating role in this. There are also a number of research projects carried out from Wits Bioinformatics, including EST clustering, protein targets, copy number variation, and gene discovery.The following projects are currently being carried out by people in Wits Bioinformatics, most of them in collaboration with other researchers or elsewhere.

•Bioinformatics of viral diversity
•Evolutionary biology
•Experimental algorithms and high-performance computing
•Assembly of second generation sequence data
•Functional annotation of novel data
•Genome-wide Association Studies
•Human Diversity Studies.

Wits Bioinformatics provides a number of services for the Wits and broader bioinformatics community.

Consulting – We have capacity to provide some consulting for projects which require bioinformatics, including tool and technique advice and some training. For significant help, we would expect to become research collaborators or make some other arrangement. Projects which require significant bioinformatics expertise should be discussed with us at proposal stage.

Tools -We have a number of on-line tools available for bioinformatics. Our wEMBOSS server is used for training as well as by researchers who need to use bionformatics tools.

High-Performance Computing – We run a research computer cluster which is available to members of the bioinformatics community. The cluster contains 100 cores and roughly 40TB of data storage. Two of our machines have 96GB of RAM and one has 72TB. This is also a node on the SA National Compute Grid.

Databases  – We mirror some of the key databases including Genbank and PDB and we can mirror or host other data bases.

Structural Targets Databases – The brain-child of a former staff member, Dr Abdelkrim Rachedi,  these databases and tools are available for use.

Contact information

Email: or visit the Wits Bioinformatics contact page

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