Computational Biology Division, University of Cape Town, South Africa



Tell us something interesting about your institution UCT has been ranked one of the most beautiful universities in the world by the Huffington Post.

What are the main research interests of your institution? UCT Medical School, of which the Computational Biology division is part, focuses on infectious disease and molecular medicine.



Class of 2016


What are the academic backgrounds of the IBT_2016 participants in the UCT classroom? Cancer Genomics, Proteomics, Plant made vaccines, Microbiomics

The UCT team



Nicola Mulder

role for IBT_2016: trainer (Introduction to Databases and Resources), classroom PI, IBT core team member

Professor Mulder heads the Computational Biology Division (CBIO) at the University of Cape Town (UCT). She graduated with a BSc degree (cum laude) in Chemistry and Microbiology, and a first class Honours degree in Microbiology, followed by a PhD in Medical Microbiology. She then spent over 8 years at the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) in Cambridge, moving into the area of bioinformatics. At the EBI she was a Team Leader, responsible for the development of InterPro and the Gene Ontology Annotation Project. InterPro was one of the most heavily used Bioinformatics resources at the Institute. At UCT, Prof Mulder works in the area of bioinformatics of infectious diseases, including pathogen and host genomics and biological networks, human variation and disease association studies. She heads the CBIO group, which consists of over 30 staff and students. The group provides bioinformatics support and education and training for postgraduate students and local researchers. Prof Mulder convenes an Honours programme in Bioinformatics, and organises a South African national bioinformatics training course for postgraduate students. Internationally, she is involved in capacity development in Africa, as leader of a large NIH-funded consortium, H3ABioNet, to build a Pan-African Bioinformatics network for H3Africa. Prof Mulder is also a member of several Scientific Advisory Boards, including ELIXIR, which forms part of a major EU funded European initiative involving all the bioinformatics stakeholders in Europe and many others world-wide. She is a founding member of the Global Organisation for Bioinformatics Learning, Education & Training (GOBLET), and is on the executive committee of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, as well as a number of review boards.



Kim Gurwitz

role for IBT_2016: project coordinator

Kim is a Training and Outreach Officer at the University of Cape Town (UCT) branch of H3ABioNet. She graduated from UCT with a Masters degree in Medical Biochemistry in 2016 under the supervision of Professor Jonathan Blackburn.  Her thesis was an in vitro analysis of ‘how HIV affects the brain’ using neuronal stem cell culture and mass spectrometry-based proteomics techniques. During her postgraduate study, Kim was selected to a 3-month programme for emerging leaders in science at Novartis Pharmaceuticals in Switzerland, where she worked on a Bioinformatics research project and obtained leadership and communications training. In addition, she interned at the Weizmann institute for Science in Israel on a 3-month scientific fellowship in Bioinformatics. Kim is passionate about science education. To this end, she has been involved in various education projects, in her work for H3ABioNet, and in communicating science to the public, such as through her active involvement in the organisation of the Pint of Science South Africa festival.



Sumir Panji

role for IBT_2016: IBT core team member

Sumir obtained his PhD in Bioinformatics from the University of the Western Cape as part of the Stanford South Africa Biomedical Informatics (SSABMI) programme where he developed computational and analyses pipelines to determine the intersection between bacterial virulence and positive selection in Professor Winston Hide’s laboratory. He completed his postdoctoral studies in Professor Alan Christoffels’ laboratory at the South African National Bioinformatics Institute (SANBI) where his focus was on genome assembly, annotation, data mining, large scale statistical analysis of genomics data and development of various computational pipelines and analyses workflows for a myriad of genomics’ data types. Dr Panji’s main interests are in creating and implementing computational and analyses workflows, statistical analysis of biomedical data, biological algorithms, high performance computing and the overall application of bioinformatics and genomics methods to better understand complex biological systems. Sumir is currently a bioinformatician within the H3ABioNet consortium who is interested in genome science, data analysis workflows, statistical analyses of large ‘omics datasets, implementation and interpretation of bioinformatics solutions to diverse biological problems and providing bioinformatics support to the H3Africa projects.



Suresh Maslamoney

role for IT_2016: system administrator

Suresh Maslamoney is a techie at heart and has experience in system and network administration as well as designing and developing ICT infrastructure. Suresh joined CBIO in February 2013 as a systems administrator and is tasked with developing and providing support on the core computational infrastructure for the CBIO and the H3ABioNet consortium. Prior to joining CBIO, Suresh spent 3 years in the UK working in various ICT posts before returning to RSA where he joined the South African Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative (SATVI). At SATVI Suresh was responsible for managing the IT section and all ICT related technical matters.



Muneerah Smith

role for IBT_2016: teaching assistant

Muneerah Smith completed her BSc degree in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the University of Stellenbosch, and continued to pursue her BSc (honours) and MSc at the University of Cape Town (UCT) (division of Medical Biochemistry), focussing on identifying cancer chemotherapeutics with Prof. Iqbal Parker through the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB). She is currently doing her PhD with Prof. Jonathan Blackburn at UCT in the division of Chemical and Systems Biology where she is using immunoproteomics to identify novel cancer antigen biomarkers using mass spectrometry and protein microarrays.



Matthys Potgieter

role for IBT_2016: teaching assistant

Matthys qualified with an MBChB from the University of Cape Town’s medical school in 2012, and completed his medical internship at Worcester Hospital in 2014. In 2015 he joined the Computational Biology Laboratory at UCT under the supervision of Professor Nicola Mulder, and is currently pursuing a Masters degree in the area of Mycobacterium tuberculosis proteogenomics. His interests include the development of reproducible high-throughput computational biology pipelines for use in high-performance computing environments, focusing on proteogenomics and mass spectrometry data analysis.



Samar Elsheikh

role for IBT_2016: teaching assistant

Samar completed both her BSc (2011) and MSc (2013) in statistics at the Faculty of Mathematical Sciences, University of Khartoum. She later completed a structural Masters in mathematical sciences at the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS-Ghana) in 2014. In 2015 she joined the Computational Biology Laboratory (CBIO) at UCT under the supervision of Professor Nicola Mulder, and is currently pursuing a PhD degree in Bioinformatics. Her current topic is ‘Bioinformatics and Genome-Wide Association Study Approach for Predicting Risk-Related Brain Function and Psychiatric Disorders’.


Read more about all the IBT_2016 classrooms here