Prof Jane Morris studied in Scotland, gaining a BSc (Hons) in Biochemistry from the University of St Andrews, and a PhD, also in biochemistry, from the University of Aberdeen. Her research has included studies on polysaccharide degrading enzymes from anaerobic rumen bacteria, and microbial adhesion mechanisms.
Co-founder, former Director of the ACGT and currently part time consultant to the organisation, Dr Jane Morris served as Director of the ACGT from 2002- 2011 and was responsible for fundraising and liaison between the CSIR, University of Pretoria and University of the Witwatersrand in the genomics field. She seeks to promote the application of structural and functional genomics tools and techniques, including transcriptomics, proteomics and bioinformatics, to research projects in the partner institutions.
For a number of years she managed biotechnology research in an industrial environment at AECI Ltd Research and Development, covering plant and microbial biotechnology, and gaining a good understanding of the requirements for commercialisation of biotechnology products. Following this, she moved into the role of strategic technology management in the CSIR.
In seeking to advance the science and application of biotechnology in South Africa, Professor Morris has played an active role in biotechnology and bio-safety issues over many years and participated in various national and international programmes concerned with GMO safety. She has also been part of a number of South African government delegations promoting international collaborations in biotechnology. She represents the ACGT partner institutions in various science and technology forums. She chaired the steering committee of the South African Malaria Initiative (SAMI), and was instrumental in the establishment of the Carnegie-IAS funded Regional Initiative in Science and Education network SABINA (Southern African Biochemistry and Informatics of Natural Products).
Current research interests
As the new technologies involved in structural and functional genomics, including proteomics and bioinformatics, are embedded through the African Centre for Gene Technologies (ACGT), she is increasingly becoming involved in national and international consortium-based research programmes.
Other relevant information
As external evaluator/reviewer, she has, among other activities, acted as external evaluator of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency’s (SIDA’s) BIO-EARN programme, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) capacity building programmes under the Cartagena Biosafety Protocol, and the South African Sugar Milling Research Institute.
She was the assistant National Contact Point for the EU Framework Programme 7 Theme 2 (Food, Agriculture, Fisheries and Biotechnology) and has also acted as a reviewer for EU proposals.
Prof Morris was recently honoured with the Lifetime Contribution Award at the 2012 Biotechnology Fundi Awards.