Category Archives: Uncategorised

BIGOSA 2017 Annual Scientific Meeting

The Breast Interest Group of Southern Africa (BIGOSA) was formed in 2011 by a group of medical professionals who realised there was a need for standardisation in breast healthcare in Southern Africa. One way of delivering on our primary objective is to empower all practitioners with appropriate skills through training and scientific meetings where breast healthcare progress and problems of interest to all clinicians and non-clinicians are presented.


The BIGOSA 2017 Annual Scientific Meeting takes place at The River Club, Observatory, Cape Town on 21 October under the over arching theme “Young women and breast cancer”.

More information can be found HERE.


TEL: +27 (0)21 683 2934
FAX: +27 (0)21 683 0816

Gut Microbiome and Cancer Therapy

Gut Microbes May Help in Cancer Treatment

By Ramadhani Chambuso

Since the gut is the largest immunological organ in the body, research has found that certain anticancer drugs work better with prior or concomitant modulation of specific gut microbiome to optimize maximum therapeutic outcome in the treatment of skin and lung cancer in mice. However, this strong interrelationship between the immune system and the host gut microbiota which can determine responses to cancer therapies has not yet been demonstrated in humans, although efforts are made to have ethical clearance to conduct further clinical trials.

Adopted from, 2016
Adopted from, 2016

Source links: Vétizou et al. (2015) and  Reardon (2017)

UNESCO-MERCK Africa Research Summit 2017

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UNESCO Merck Africa Research Summit – MARS 2017 will be held in Mauritius with the aim to empower Women and Youth in Research under the patronage of the Head of State of The Republic of Mauritius H.E. Ameenah Gurib Fakim.UNESCO-Merck Africa Research Summit- MARS aims to bring together researchers from across Africa to discuss the generation, sharing and dissemination of research data and to prepare for the road ahead in Africa’s development as an international hub for research excellence and scientific innovation.UNESCO-Merck Africa Research Summit – MARS 2017 will have scientific support from UNESCO (United Nations educational, scientific and cultural organization), African Union Scientific, Technical and Research Commission (AU-STRC), the University of Cambridge, UK, University of Rome, and Merck.The annual Summit aims to contribute to building research capacity in the African research community, with special focus on “The Role of Scientific Research in responding to Cancer and Vaccines Development – Two emerging challenge in Africa”. The Summit will also showcase innovative research taking place in projects, programs and initiatives across African universities, and by the wider African research community. The summit is a unique opportunity for Africa’s young and talented scientists to share their research output and findings with the top echelon of scientists from Africa and abroad. It is also an opportunity for networking and career development. The Summit willpresents a platform where young scientists will be able to discuss the enabling environment for better research among others.On other note the organizing committee will launch the “Best Young African Researcher Award” and the “Best African Woman Researcher Award” to recognize the outstanding contribution of African female scientist with aim to promote women in research and advance their contribution to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

The annual Summit – UNESCO-MARS will address the vital role of research in the improvement and sustainable development of population health with specific emphasis on how to translate knowledge into action – the ‘know-do gap’ – to improve health and make an impact on society.

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Abstract Submission Details

Abstracts are invited from final year African PhD students and young investigators involved in research related to both Cancer specially in Women and Vaccines Development. All should be primarily based at African research institutes and Universities, although collaboration within Africa as well as outside is encouraged.

All abstracts will be peer reviewed.


Dead line 30th of August 2017

Send your abstracts to:

Apply Now


MARS 2017 Awards


All abstracts will be peer reviewed and 100 winners will be eligible for Sponsorship. First three winners will be eligible for further number of Research Awards. Further Research Award will be dedicated for Best African Women Researchers Stay tuned..
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Biostatistics Seminar Series

Special forum: Biostatistics support in the Faculty of Health Sciences

Join the Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics for a panel discussion on the need and future of biostatistics support in the Faculty of Health Sciences. Submissions are welcome – please email:

All are welcome to the seminar.

Where: Seminar Room 2, Falmouth Building, Entrance 5, School of Public Health and Family Medicine, Health Sciences Campus, UCT.

When: 12:30-13:30, Wednesday, August 23, 2017.

Cancer Network in Africa


AORTIC Cancer Network Directory (ACND) 2nd Edition

At AORTIC, we are currently developing the second edition of our Cancer Network Directory, which aims to map out the resources that are available in Africa in order to help understand the cancer landscape in Africa and promote collaboration in cancer work.

If you would like to be included in this directory, please provide us with your contact information by filling out the information card below.

We would also appreciate it if you could either forward along this information card or give us the contact information for anyone else who would benefit from being listed.

Thank you for your cooperation!

Information to be completed:

Information Card

Name/ Nom:
Name of institution/Nom de l’établissement:
Cancer specialty/focus area  /Spécialité/Domained’intervention: 
City/ Ville:
Country/ Pays:
Full address/ Adresse:
Email address/ Adresse e-mail :
Web address/ Adresse web :
Work tel no/Numéro de téléphone :
Mobile no/ Pas de portable :

It may be of interest to you that AORTIC is hosting its biannual conference this November in Kigali, Rwanda 7-10 November 2017.

The conference will be a great opportunity for multidisciplinary specialists from the global cancer community to present their research, learn about relevant case studies, gain practical skills through workshops, broaden their network connections, and much more.

If you are interested in attending, please check out our website for more information:


AORTIC Secretariat

P O Box 186

Rondebosch 7701 South Africa

Tel: +27 21 689-5359



Welcoming New Members

Postgraduate Cancer Research Initiative (CRI) Opens Door to New Postgraduates!

On behalf of Prof. Jennifer Moodley, we would like to extend a cheerful welcome to the new members who have joined the Postgraduate Cancer Research Initiative (CRI). As you are aware, this group was founded in 2015 as “Cancer PhD Mentorship Group” and was only for PhD students. This year, after much discussion, we extended the invitation and membership to MSc students doing cancer-related projects; hence, the name “Postgraduate Cancer Research Initiative”. Therefore, we are delighted to have all the new postgraduate members from different divisions and departments join our group.

Our main goal is to offer mentorship to postgraduate students, identifying and assisting them in their areas of need in academics and research. It also provides students with the opportunity to share exciting ideas in cancer research. This is not limited to policy implementation, translational research, and any opportunities in the discipline.

Thanks to all the old and new members who made a huge effort to participate in our first two meetings (7th and 27th July 2017 chaired by Prof. Jennifer Moodley and Dr. Ramadhani Chambuso, respectively). To those that were unable to attend, it is our pleasure to welcome you!

From left to right: Ramadhani, Trish, Alltallents, Harris, Ongeziwe, Precious, and Freury.
From left to right: Ramadhani, Trish, Alltallents, Harris, Ongeziwe, Precious, and Freury.

Refreshments session...

Photographs courtesy of Fleury A. N. Biteghe and Harris Onywera.

Cancer policies and key role players in cancer research

Cancer policies and key role players in cancer research

2img-20160907-wa0001img-20160907-wa0002The Cancer Research Initiative hosted a seminar for the members of the PhD mentorship group to provide an overview of cancer policies, key organisations and role players in cancer research.

Dr Henry Adeola began his presentation by discussing the urgent need for cancer control policies in Africa. The burden of cancer on the continent is set to exponentially increasing due to industrialisation and the ageing population and cancer control needs to be prioritised according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). In South Africa, only two policies including the HPV vaccination in school girls and the Tobacco Products Control Act in 1993 have been approved and implemented by the government. A draft National Cancer control and prevention document has been developed and is currently undergoing revisions. However, the anticipated date of the final policy is yet to be released. It is clear that the first steps towards a comprehensive cancer control policy have been put into place but more needs to be done to hasten the implementation of an integrated and practical cancer control policy.

Vedantha Singh provided an outline of the key role players in cancer research and how students can make use of the available resources to supplement their own research. International organisations such as the WHO’s International Agency for Cancer Research (IARC) and their cancer surveillance data website, GLOBOCAN provide important epidemiological and population based statistics on the global burden of cancer. Role players in cancer research within Africa including the African Organisation for Research and Training in Cancer (AORTIC) and the African Cancer Registry Network (AFCRN). South African role players in cancer research including the policy makers (Department of Health), advocacy groups/NGOs, academic/research institutions and cancer registries were then described. The key message was that each of the role players needs to be engaged in integrative, collaborative efforts to control, prevent and overcome cancer.

Colleen Marco (CANSA) concluded the seminar by emphasising that cancer control and prevention efforts need to be practical and implementable in the South African setting. The major problem is lack of urgency to act and limited political will. The topic of cancer is still taboo in our communities and this needs to be addressed (perhaps through research) in order to ensure that cancer prevention is taken seriously.


Students in attendance engaged in a discussion surrounding the importance of policies to be developed using evidence based research. The need to engage all stakeholders throughout the research process was also discussed. The general consensus of the group was to drive political will and change through research that is derived from integrated and translatable research questions.

Please share your opinion on how we can drive cancer control in South Africa? 

Photographs by Dr Henry A Adeola

16th IUBMB Young Scientist Program and Conference (14-21 July 2016, Vancouver, Canada)

16th IUBMB Young Scientist Program and Conference (14-21 July 2016, Vancouver, Canada)

By Tamara Stelma (

T Stelma 5The International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (IUBMB) Young Scientist Program gave 42 PhD students or T Stelma 6postdoctoral fellows the opportunity to travel to Vancouver, Canada, and attend an inspiring academic program at the University of British Columbia. I was privileged to be a part of the young scientist group that T Stelma 1represented 26 different countries around the world. We each got the opportunity to do an oral presentation on our research as well as a poster presentation which facilitated useful and interesting T Stelma 4discussions around our work. We were also taken on a tour of the Michael Smith Genome Science Centre where we got to experience
the workings of the world’s first Personalised Oncogenomics Project (POG project). The program provided a great opportunity for young scientists to network with each other as well as leading researchers in their respective fields.

The international conference on biochemistry and molecular biology followed the young scientist program and was held at Vancouver’s East Convention Centre. The conference brought delegates together from all corners of the globe to discuss signaling pathways in development, disease and aging. Exceptional science was presented by leading researchers in their fields including two Nobel and 5 Gairdner prize winners. The plenary sessions covered a diverse range of topics including; cell death and aging, cancer causes and progression, circadian rhythms, regulation of RNA and proteins as well as membrane proteins and channels.

The next IUBMB conference will be held in Seoul, South Korea, 4-8 June 2018. I recommend all future PhD students and Postdoctoral Fellows to apply for the Young Scientist program as it is an opportunity not to be missed.

Photos: Courtesy Tamara Stelma


The 25th South African Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology congress 2016

Report on the 25th South African Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology congress 2016

by Tarryn Willmer , Post doctoral fellow,UCT Tarryn Wilmer

The 25th SASBMB Congress was hosted by the University of Fort Hare Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology at the East London International Convention Centre. The theme of the congress was “Celebrating Science”, as the SASBMB society celebrated its 40th Anniversary as well as the Centenary of the University of Fort Hare. The congress hosted international plenary speakers, namely Professor Leann Tilley from the University of Melbourne and Professor Marc Cox from the University of Texas who presented on important advances in malaria and cancer research respectively. In addition, excellent plenary talks were given by local scientists, Professor Darren Martin, Professor Ben-Erik Van Wyk, Professor Marla Trindade and Professor Theresa Coetzer, who are all leaders in their research fields. The congress was further divided into six parallel sessions per day, covering the following broad themes:

(1) Protein and Peptide Biochemistry/Enzymology/Protein Structure and Function;

(2) Infectious diseases;

(3) Non-communicable/Genetic diseases;

(4) Omics (Proteomics/Genomics/Bioinformatics/Computational Biology/Metabolomics Transduction;

(5) Plant Biochemistry/Medicinal Plants/ and (6) Developmental Biology/Hormone Research/Signaling.

Postgraduate students and postdoctoral fellows were given the opportunity to present their research findings in either the form of oral or poster presentations, which were informative and enjoyable to listen to/observe. Importantly, silver and gold medals were awarded to Karl Storbeck and Ian Dubery respectively who delivered exceptional talks on their research. The conference ended with a gala dinner, where prizes were awarded to poster presenters within each category, which were kindly provided by generous sponsors, including Separations, Inqaba Biotech and Thermo Fisher Scientific.

In summary, the 25th SASBMB congress was a memorable experience, particularly for young scientists who made up 80% of the conference. I believe that this was an important scientific forum for me to attend because it expanded my knowledge of the field of molecular biology and allowed me to share my work (oral presentation) with other researchers who gave me good feedback on my experiments with regards to publishing the work. I definitely look forward to attending the next congress.

Photographs: Tarryn Wilmer and Sasbmb Congress Community

T Wilmer 3








Networking breakfast

Cancer PhD mentorship networking breakfast


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On the 2nd of June, the Cancer PhD mentorship group hosted its first annual breakfast networking meeting.

The breakfast meeting was held to stimulate collaboration amongst members and to introduce new PhD students to the Cancer PhD mentorship group.  The breakfast was well attended by new and existing members of the Cancer PhD mentorship group. In general, the feedback received was positive and members were glad to participate in future events.

Prof Jennifer Moodley, Director of Cancer Research and Deputy Dean of Research at the Faculty of Health Sciences welcomed members and provided a brief overview of the intended goals of the Cancer PhD mentorship group. Dr Rakiya Saidu, a clinician and PhD student described the challenges and barriers to conducing multidisciplinary resIMG_20160602_104159earch using her experiences. Dr Saidu noted that she managed to balance her clinical and lab research duties by maintaining clear channels of communication with supervisors and colleagues alike.

Dr Henry Adeola, a clinical pathologist and recently graduated PhD student briefly described his experiences during his time as a PhD student. He emphasised the need for students to engage with each other and develop collaborative research networks from the onset.

IMG_20160602_104733As a PhD student, this was a great opportunity for me to meet and engage with colleagues “in my shoes”.Its great to know that the PhD journey does not have to bean isolated one. To commemorate the event, I have compiled a selection of photographs from the breakfast. (Pictures courtesy of Dr Henry Adeola and Vedantha Singh)

The next seminar entitled: “Cancer policies, key organisations and role players in cancer research”, will be held in early August. If you would like to participate, let me know.  As always, we want to hear from you-so feel free to comment or email.