Bringing technology to the continent

03 September 2012

Some eight years ago, Professor Jonathan Blackburn came to South Africa with his South African wife, Associate Professor Nicola Mulder, head of the IIDMM's Computational Biology Group, bringing with him experience in an array of cutting-edge basic-science technologies and a specific focus on proteomics - the massively parallel study of the differentials in abundance, localisation and function of proteins in a biological system. In South Africa, where he now holds a SARChI chair in applied proteomics and chemical biology, he's set out to apply those technologies - such as mass array spectrometry and protein microarrays - to a cross section of diseases. This includes tuberculosis and cancers, with a smattering of work on HIV. His work in proteomics falls into two distinct areas - discovery-oriented research and systematic, quantitative studies. It's research he and his team in the Applied & Chemical Proteomics Research Group are applying to cancers such as skin cancer (melanoma) and colorectal cancer, ie cancer of the bowel, both of increasing concern in South Africa.

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