Visit: Prof John Saka, Academic Director of the SABINA Network

September 2011

Prof John Saka
Prof John Saka

The Academic Director of the SABINA Network (South African Biochemistry and Informatics for Natural Products) Prof J. Saka, recently visited Pretoria and was hosted by Dr Vinesh Maharaj (CSIR). Prof Saka’s visit forms part of the actions of the POL SABINA project, which facilitates visits between the nodes by members of the network. ACGT partner institutions CSIR and the Universities of Pretoria and the Witwatersrand are SABINA network partners.

During his three-day visit Prof Saka, of the University of Malawi, visited his student, Mr KK Nyirenda, who is currently working in the laboratory of Dr Maharaj. Mr Nyirenda is one of the many SABINA students who are co-supervised by both Prof Saka and Dr Maharaj. Dr Maharaj is also a member of staff of the SABINA network and co-supervises many SABINA students who visit his laboratory to receive further training and conduct research into natural product chemistry. Prof Saka also attended a meeting with the POL SABINA management at the ACGT.

Whilst at the CSIR, Prof Saka gave a presentation on natural products research in Malawi. With both staff and students of the network in attendance, Prof Saka enlightened the audience on the research currently been undertaken at the University of Malawi. He also highlighted the results of the projects of three of the SABINA students: Kennedy Ngwira, KK Nyirenda (both of Malawi) and Tinotenda Shoko whom he supervises.

SABINA is a network that constitutes the following partners: the Universities of Malawi, Namibia, Dar es Salaam, Pretoria and the Witwatersrand; as well as the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Tea Research Foundation of Central Africa (TRFCA). The SABINA partnership is focused on capacity building in natural product research, through training of MSc and PhD students. The main goal of the SABINA network initiative is to implement pro-active postgraduate programmes in chemistry, biochemistry and bioinformatics of natural products. This project is funded as a Carnegie Regional Initiative in Science and Education (see The SABINA programme, as supported through Carnegie-RISE, focuses on the development of biological resources with application in medicine, health promotion, and agriculture. Also see