Dr Rachel Chikwamba


Rachel Chikwamba is a newly appointed member of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research Executive. Previously she was the research group leader for the Plant Biotechnology group at CSIR Biosciences. She leads a team of researchers focusing on three major areas of research; metabolic engineering to enhance nutritional quality of crops and the related downstream analyses, the use of plants and plant cells as bioreactors to produce biomolecules of pharmaceutical and industrial relevance and the use of plant cell culture and omics coupled with bioinformatics to elucidate biochemical pathways underlying the production of lead molecules in indigenous plants with medicinal value. Dr Chikwamba is particularly keen to develop plant biotechnology applications that are relevant to developing country agriculture and to the pharmaceutical industry in South Africa, and to this end is collaborating with various international and South African research institutes and research support organisations to establish a pipeline of services and other modalities to bring locally developed plant biotechnology products onto the market.

Dr Chikwamba is also an adjunct senior lecturer at the University of Pretoria Departments of Botany and Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI). Within the UP, Dr Chikwamba is initiating a banana and maize improvement program, that involves tissue culture, transformation, gene discovery and gene introgression research for these two crops. Her responsibilities include supervision of post-graduate students and teaching.

Dr Chikwamba holds a doctorate in Genetics from Iowa State University (ISU), and her dissertation focused on the production of novel proteins in plants. She worked as a research associate at the Center for Infectious Disease and Vaccinology within the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, USA, studying optimization of expression and assembly of multi-subunit proteins in plants. She is a principal investigator on several locally and internationally funded research articles, has authored several articles in peer reviewed internationally recognized scientific journals and contributed to several book chapters. She is also a reviewer for various international recognized journals, and has refereed grants for local and international funding organizations.

Contact information

Dr Rachel Chikwamba, Tel: +27 12 841 2177