14th Aug 2019
My involvement with the field of Metabolomics is in my capacity as Liaison Scientist for the African Centre for Gene Technologies (ACGT) and as a committee member of Metabolomics South Africa (MSA). The ACGT represents the interests of three universities and two research councils in the Gauteng region (Wits, UJ, UP, CSIR and ARC. I coordinate ACGT’s Metabolomics capacity building activities which include, but are not limited to: meetings, workshops and symposiums; finding synergies between researchers and subsequently building linkages amongst ACGT partner institutions and relevant outside institutions. MSA is a non-profit organization seen as an opportunity to promote and improve the profile of metabolomics research and technology in South Africa, foster networking, training, capacity building, information sharing, mentoring, career opportunities, leadership training and professional development.
I discovered through one of our colleagues from the University of Edinburgh that a Metabolomics Conference was to be held at the World Forum in The Hague, Netherlands from 23-27 June 2019. Attending relevant information dissemination events like the 2019 International Metabolomics Conference, helps me perform my roles well for the ACGT and its partners and also enables me to keep up with the trends in metabolomics research. A decision was then made that I would be attending the conference. I therefore registered to attend the conference and began with the travel arrangements. The visa came out in the nick of time, they do say better late than never. I managed to conquer the usual worries of travelling: Did I pack enough clothes? Did I forget something? Constant reminder that whatever I do, I better not miss the flight. Thankfully, there were no glitches in my travel and all went well. As a bonus, the city of The Hague in itself is amazing with efficient public transport and some great sites.
There was a great South African presence at the workshop with delegates from University of Johannesburg, University of South Africa and North-West University. The conference provided an opportunity to listen to international metabolomics researchers from all over the world sharing their findings, an opportunity to network and identify relevant synergies so as to foster further collaboration amongst metabolomics researchers within SA and across the world. The ACGT already has relationships with some key international metabolomics players who have been assisting with capacity building activities over the past several years. This event provided an opportunity for some stakeholder management to continue to strengthen these relationships. This conference was also an opportunity to expand our contact list and open up new opportunities for collaborations and relationships with South Africans researchers.
My takeaway from this conference is simply that there is a significant and continuing growth of metabolomics all over the world. The discipline has diverse applications in health, agriculture and industry. The ACGT and MSA will do all in its power to assist in pushing African Metabolomics in the right direction and keeping it globally competitive. I would like to encourage anyone who is involved in metabolomics or metabolomics related work to attend future International Metabolomics Conference as this was a worthwhile experience.
My interests and professional involvements are not only limited to the field of metabolomics, I also continue to be involved in genomics and in life science research in aspects that include capacity building, fundraising and research coordination, nationally and internationally. For queries relating to any of the above fields, feel free to contact me at and we can discuss how I and/or the ACGT can be of assistance.
Story by: Molati Nonyane
30th Aug 2015
Metabolomics is a newly emerging field of ‘omics’ that aims to investigate the global metabolic changes in a biological system. The two major technologies, mass spectrometry (MS) and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, is commonly used for identifying and quantifying the full range of metabolites in biological samples and each produce large amounts of spectral data. The conversion of this data into biologically meaningful information requires considerable data processing. With the recent establishment and growth of metabolomics-based studies in South Africa, it has become important to consider the computational tools available to handle and interpret the large amounts of metabolomics data that is generated by these high-throughput technologies. SIMCA, offered through the commercial vendor Umetrics, is one of the leading software packages currently available for the analysis and interpretation of metabolomics data sets. Providing training in a software package such as SIMCA would greatly build the capacity of principal investigators and postgraduate students in metabolomics multivariate data analysis and experimental design.
The ACGT, in conjunction with The Department of Science and Technology (DST), successfully hosted a SIMCA metabolomics data analysis workshop at the Centre for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Computer Lab at the University of Pretoria between the 3rd and 7th of August 2015. Two trainers were invited from Imperial College (London) to facilitate the workshop. Trainers included Dr. Ruey-Leng Loo and Mr. Torben Kimhofer. Both trainers are specifically knowledgeable and experienced in various important components of metabolomics data analysis specifically using the SIMCA software package. Twenty six attendees from various institutions NWU, UP, ARC, CSIR, UJ, UNISA and Wits attended the workshop. The five day workshop kicked off with a brief welcome and opening remarks by Dr Farhahna Allie as well as the trainers. Each of the attendees then had the opportunity to introduce themselves and their research topics and how they best envisaged benefiting from this workshop. Workshop days started off with a lecture session in the morning and a hands-on session in the afternoon. Moreover, the workshop also offered the attendees with a great opportunity to network and share their knowledge and experience with in their diverse metabolomics projects, further encouraging them to foster future collaboration.
Feedback from the attendees demonstrated that the course was relevant and that it was presented at the right pace and level for them, as well as that the workshop was well organized. Overall, the positive feedback from delegates indicated that the course was useful. The trainers were equally pleased with the execution of the workshop and they were specifically impressed with the enthusiasm and active participation of the attendees.
For more information on upcoming bioinformatics training events, visit the events page on the ACGT website (www.acgt.co.za), like us on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/ACGT.biotec) or contact Farhahna Allie at