CSIR Biosciences and UP co-host biennial Proteomics Symposium and Workshop

Attendees of the proteomics workshop (CSIR, day 1)
Attendees of the proteomics workshop (CSIR, day 1)

CSIR Biosciences joined the University of Pretoria’s Pharmacology Department in co-hosting a national symposium followed by a workshop on proteomics. The successful event drew close to 70 delegates from across the country to a two-day symposium held on 11 and 12 July followed by an oversubscribed two-day hands-on workshop. The symposium was a follow-up to an inaugural meeting that was hosted by the Universities of Pretoria and the Witwatersrand in 2009.

The symposium’s focus was to bring together researchers, stakeholders and industry from across the country to present and discuss the scope and state of proteomics research in South Africa. The symposium also offered a platform for researchers to discuss new developments and challenges in the field and provided a unique opportunity for groups to network and initiate collaborations. The workshop was aimed at providing intensive hands-on training for research scientists from a variety of backgrounds.

The initial focus of the workshop was the application of two-dimensional gel electrophoresis in proteomics, which was hosted by the event organiser Dr Duncan Cromarty at the University of Pretoria and the CSIR by Dr Tsepo Tsekoa, Dr Stoyan Stoychev and Sindi Buthelezi. The CSIR team then provided in-depth training on sample preparation, high-performance liquid chromatography, mass spectrometry, and bioinformatics for proteomics.

Participants to the event were drawn from the universities of the Western Cape, Cape Town, Stellenbosch, Free State, Limpopo, Witwatersrand, Johannesburg and Pretoria. Institutes included the Agricultural Research Council and representatives from the Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute (OBP/OVI). Other stakeholders included the African Centre for Gene Technologies and the National Research Foundation, while industry participation saw representation from BioRad, AB Sciex, Bruker, Thermo Fisher, Anatech, Biocom Biotech, BD, Separations, Vacutec, Waters, Chemetrix, and Whitehead Scientific.

Speaking at the event, CSIR Biosciences Director Dr Joe Molete highlighted the importance of developing technologies such as proteomics in cutting-edge research, and their role in creating new capacity and entrepreneurial opportunities in the country’s fledgling biotechnology sector.

One of the organisers, Dr Dalu Mancama from CSIR Biosciences, says, “Proteomics represents one of the fastest growing areas of biological sciences research. The technology offers the ability to simultaneously study proteins involved in the function, organisation, diversity and dynamic variety of cells or whole tissues. Its broad application potential and foreseen impact spurred the establishment of a proteomics platform at CSIR Biosciences, enabling the acquisition of essential tools and supporting technologies required to perform cutting-edge research in this field.

“Today the platform contributes to driving the development of a wide range of research interests at the CSIR, including drug and diagnostics discovery and development, crop development, and veterinary science research. The past two years have also witnessed increased access by academia and industry to the platform’s state-of-the-art capabilities.

“The symposium and workshop offered the ideal opportunity for sharing knowledge and networking with other role-players in this growing field,” he concludes.

Further proteomics-based workshops are planned for the next six months to try and meet the high demand for this type of quality hands-on training.

News contributed by CSIR Strategic Communication and Stakeholder Relations