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Ed Rybicki

Lab Members

Prof Ed Rybicki
Principal Investigator
Office 303a
Tel +27 21 650 3265
Fax +27 21 650 2646
ed.rybicki@uct.ac.za
More informationDr Inga Hitzeroth
Senior Research Officer
Lab 304
Tel +27 21 650 5712
inga.hitzeroth@uct.ac.za
More informationDr Ann Meyers
Research Officer
Lab 304
Tel +27 21 650 5712
ann.meyers@uct.ac.za
Dr Megan Hendrickse More informationDr Megan Hendrikse
Post-doctoral fellow
megan.hendrikse@uct.ac.za
More informationDr Alta van Zyl
Post-doctoral fellow
alta.vanzyl@uct.ac.za
More informationDr Guy Reynard
Post-doctoral fellow
GLRegnard@gmail.com
Dr Hapiloe Maranyane More informationDr Hapiloe Maranyane
Post-doctoral fellow
hapiloe.m@gmail.com
Dr Hapiloe Maranyane More informationDr Rosemary Meggersee
Post-doctoral fellow
rosemary.meggersee@uct.ac.za
Fazeela Felton More informationFazeela Felton
Administrative Officer
Lab 304
Tel +27 21 650 2646
fazeela.felton@uct.ac.za
Asanda Matiso
Scientific officer
Lab 302
Tel: +27 21 650 5232
asandamatiso0@gmail.com
Maureen

Maureen Baloyi
Scientific officer
Lab 301
Tel: +27 21 650 5232
maureen.baloyi89@gmail.com

More informationEmmanuel Margolin
Senior Scientific Officer
emmanuel.margolin@gmail.com
Sue More informationSue Dennis
PhD student
suedennis7@gmail.com
More informationSandiswa Mbewana
PhD student
mbwsan001@myuct.ac.za
More informationAleyo Chabeda
PhD student
aleyo.chabeda@uct.ac.za
dylan More informationDylan Stevens
PhD student
d.s.troy@icloud.com
Melie

More informationMélie Buyse
PhD student
meliebuyse@hotmail.com

More informationJennifer Wayland
MSc student
jennifer-wayland@hotmail.com
More informationAyesha Adams
MSc student
admaye004@myuct.ac.za
More informationFrancisco Pera
MSc student
DFGFRA001@myuct.ac.za
Steven o'Connor More informationSteven O'Connor
MSc student
thestevenoconnor@gmail.com
More informationShelley Fearon
MSc student
smtshe005@myuct.ac.za
Hendrik Els More informationHendrik Els
MSc student
Hendrik.Els@alumni.uct.ac.za
Scot de Beer More informationScott de Beer
MSc student
Scott.DeBeer@alumni.uct.ac.za
Inge Pietersen More informationInge Pietersen
MSc student
Inge.Pietersen@alumni.uct.ac.za
Corrie Gunter More informationCorrie Gunter
MSc student
Corrie.Gunter@alumni.uct.ac.za
Raygaanah Jacobs More informationRaygaanah Jacobs
MSc student
Raygaanah.Jacobs@alumni.uct.ac.za
Varusha Veerapen More informationVarusha Veerapen
MSc student
Varusha.Veerapen@alumni.uct.ac.za
More informationMatt Verbeek
MSc student
vrbmat001@myuct.ac.za
More informationSiphomelele Ndlovu
MSc student
ndlsip021@myuct.ac.za
Dr Inga Isabel Hitzeroth
Senior Research Officer
I grew up in Namibia and studied in South Africa at the University of Cape Town in Cape Town from 1980 - 1986. I did my undergraduate studies in Microbiology and Biochemistry and my PhD on hake population genetics while working for Sea Fisheries in Cape Town. My post-doctoral years I spent at medical school at UCT working on gonadotropin releasing hormone. In 2000 I started to work in Prof Rybicki’s group in a then very new and novel field of expression of viral proteins in plants.

We are specifically working on production of vaccine candidates against Human papillomavirus (HPV) and development of second generation vaccines that will be cheaper by production in plants and will protect against more than one type of HPV. HPV is the cause of cervical cancer the second most prevalent cancer in women in developing countries.

Other diseases that we are working on are: rotavirus, which causes severe diarrhoea in children; Beak and Feather Disease Virus (BFDV) which causes Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD) in all psittacine birds (parrots); and Avian influenza.

The research that I have been involved in over the last thirteen years has come a long way from just being an idea to produce viral proteins in plants to becoming a reality with proteins being expressed in high enough levels to make it feasible to produce them as vaccines.

Go to Dr Hitzeroth's webpage
Dr Ann Meyers
Research Officer
I have been in Prof Ed Rybicki’s group since February 2000 initially as a postdoctoral fellow and currently as a Research Officer. My research interests lie mainly in the expression of recombinant proteins in plants and in particular, vaccines for humans and animals which provide a cheaper alternative to industrially-produced vaccines. I have worked on the production of HIV-1 Gag virus-like particles (VLPs) in plants with a view to using these as an HIV-1 vaccine candidate as well as the production of Bluetongue virus (BTV) particles for a potential vaccine.

I am currently also working on a Rift Valley Fever Virus vaccine. Work includes the expression of VLPs in Nicotiana benthamiana and preliminary testing of their ability to stimulate an immune response in mice. Since 2000, 8 honours students, 3 MSc students and one PhD student have graduated under my co-supervision and I am currently co-supervising 2 MSc students and 3 PhD students.

Go to Dr Meyers' webpage
Dr Megan Hendrikse
Post-doctoral fellow
MeganI am originally from Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape where I completed my MSc at NMMU (Formerly UPE). After moving to Cape Town, I undertook my PhD in Medical Biochemistry in the receptor biology group (UCT Medical Campus).

I am currently a Post-Doctoral Fellow in Prof Ed Rybicki's lab where I will be conducting the L2-based pseudovirion neutralising assay to evaluate the immunogenicity of in-house produced Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines.
Dr Guy Regnard
Post-doctoral fellow
I study viruses and have submitted my doctoral thesis on Beak and feather disease virus. This particular virus belongs to an ever growing list of circular single-stranded DNA viruses causing host immunosuppression. Presently I am a postdoctoral research fellow in the BRU working on a DST funded project to produce blue tongue virus (BTV) proteins and VLPs.

I am member of the International Society for Plant Molecular Farming and an associate student member of the American Society of Virology. I currently volunteer at The Friends of the Children's Hospital Association and Help2Read at Timour Hall Primary School. Last year I served as a regional judge for the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists

See my profile at http://about.me/guy.regnard
Dr Alta van Zyl
Post-doctoral fellow
AltaI obtained my honours degree in Biochemistry at the University of the Free State in 2006, after which I completed my MSc degree (also at UFS) in the Veterinary Biotechnology research group. I relocated to Cape Town to pursue a PhD degree in the Biopharming Research Unit under the supervision of Prof Rybicki and Dr Meyers.

My PhD focussed on the development of plant-produced vaccines against Bluetongue virus. Currently, I am a Post-doctoral fellow working on the optimisation of recombinant HPV protein expression in plants.
Dr Hapiloe Maranyane
Post-doctoral fellow
I'm one of BRU's newest recruits, joining this year (2015) as a Postdoctoral research fellow working on plant-based vaccine production against blue tongue virus (BTV) and African horse sickeness (AHS).

I obtained a BSc in Human Physiology and Biochemistry (2005-2007) and proceeded to do an Honours degree in Biochemistry (2008) at the University of Johannesburg (APK).

Upon receiving a Mandela Rhodes Scholarship, I made a bold move to Cape Town to embark on a MSc (med) in Medical Biochemistry in the 'Cancer lab' under the supervision of A/Prof Virna Leaner, with a focus on differential metabolic pathways in cancer. I've recently submitted a PhD thesis in the (newly named) Department of Intergartive Biomolecular Sciences this year.
Dr Rosemary Meggersee
Post-doctoral fellow
Rosemary Meggersee I completed my undergraduate studies in the Molecular and Cell Biology department at UCT. My postgraduate studies, including my PhD, were completed in MCB under the supervision of Dr V. Abratt and investigated the antibiotic resistance present in the anaerobic bacterium Bacteroides fragilis. My first Post-Doctoral research project was under the joint supervision of BRU and Assoc. Prof V. Coyne and involved the development of a phage display library which could be used to develop DNA vaccines for farmed fish.  
My current Post-Doctoral research project involves using a mouse phage display library in order to generate antibodies that can be used for both diagnostic tests and as therapeutics to a wide variety of antigens. 
Fazeela Felton
Administrative Officer (part time)
I have more than 20 years of office administration experience and have been at UCT since August 2004. I started working in the Biopharming Research Unit since 1 June 2016. I am responsible for the day to day general office administration, fund administration, database maintenance, BRU website maintenance and any other administrative tasks required of me.
Emmanuel Margolin
Senior Scientific Officer
I completed my undergraduate studies in the Molecular and Cell Biology department at UCT before moving to Medical School for my honours and Masters.

My M.Sc. project focused on the design and expression of novel HIV-1 Envelope antigens in different expression platforms.

I am currently working for the HIV Vaccine Development Group at Medical School on a MRC SHIP funded project which aims to develop next generation HIV vaccines, for the induction of neutralizing antibodies. As part of this Project I am working in the BRU to develop a plant-based expression platform for the production of HIV Envelope subunit vaccines. In my free time I enjoy playing guitar, running and gyming.
Sue Dennis
PhD student
Sue DennisI completed my undergraduate studies at Stellenbosch University in 1985 followed by an Honours degree in Molecular Biology in Prof Ed Rybicki's lab in 1986. I moved to Pretoria in 1987 to work on Bluetongue Virus at the Onderstepoort Veterinary Research Institute and while there, obtained an MSc degree in 1990 from the University of Pretoria. I then worked for a brief period as a scientific officer in Prof Rybicki's lab before travelling overseas. Since then, I have been busy assisting my husband, David, with the administration of his medical practice and being a Mom to our four children.

I registered for a PhD in 2015 in Prof Rybicki's Biopharming Research Unit and am very excited to have the opportunity to be back in the lab. My research project involves the plant-based expression of recombinant African Horse Sickness viral proteins, with the aim of developing safe and cost effective subunit vaccines against the disease.
Sandiswa Mbewana
PhD student
Sandiswa I am a Biotechnologist specializing in Plant Biotechnology.

My Bsc Biotechnology degree was obtained at the University of the Western Cape in 2005. My post graduate studies (BSc Hons and MSc in Wine biotechnology) were completed at Stellenbosch University. My MSc was on the analysis of possible fungal resistance phenotype in transgenic tobacco plants over-expressing the native cinnamyl alcohol dehydrogenase gene. The key study area was Grapevine biotechnology focusing on disease resistance.

I have also worked as a Scientific Officer in the plant based vaccine group. My project was on the development of an avian influenza virus (H5N1) vaccine using plants and insect cell expression system. Now am have enrolled for a PhD on development of rift valley fever virus vaccine.
Aleyo Chabeda
PhD student
I am from the sunny Nairobi, Kenya. I completed my B.Sc in Biochemistry and Microbiology at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in 2010. I then made the move to Cape Town and did my B.Sc Hons at UCT in the Department of Molecular & Cell Biology (MCB), working on Influenza DNA vaccines under the supervision of Dr. Inga Hitzeroth and Prof. Ed Rybicki.

I began my M.Sc in 2012 looking at Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and in 2013 upgraded to a Ph.D. My research is focused on the development of second generation HPV L1/L2 chimaeric virus like particle (VLP) vaccines in plants. HPV is the most common cause of cervical cancer. As current HPV vaccines are very expensive and type specific, there is a great need for cheaper vaccines that can provide protection against several HPV types.

I am also the Chairperson of the MCB postgraduate research committee which organises several events throughout the year, such as the inter-lab quiz night and indoor soccer tournament. Our most important event is the MCB Research Day which promotes/encourages postgraduate students to present their research to the department.
Dylan Stevens
PhD student
Dylan StevensI obtained my undergraduate degrees in human genetics and phylogenetics from the University of Pretoria. I did a master’s degree in Molecular Biology at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

I am currently doing a PhD at the Centre for Bioprocess Engineering Research (CeBER) looking into the production of high value heterologous proteins in green microalgae under the co-supervision of Dr Sue Huddy and Prof Rybicki from the BRU.
Mélie Buyse
PhD student
Melie BuyseI am a Belgian Vet. I completed my Masters in Veterinary Science at Ghent University 2010. I then went on to open my own veterinary practice. After 4 years of running my own business I decided I wanted to further my studies and embark on obtaining my PhD.

I am particularly interested in vaccine development as I had years of experience using the medication and identified a gap for new and improved vaccines. I came across the Biopharming Research Unit and I then knew that this would be the ideal environment for me to be able to contribute in this industry. I then packed up my entire life in one suitcase and made the move to Cape Town.

My PhD is based on developing a vaccine for Beak and Feather Disease Virus. I will be working under the supervision of Dr. Inga Hitzeroth and Prof. Ed Rybicki.
Ayesha Admas
MSc student
Ayesha AdamsI completed my undergraduate degree in Biochemistry and Genetics at UCT in 2015. I then did my Honours degree in Molecular and Cell biology in the Biopharming Research Unit (BRU) and I am now doing my masters in the BRU under the supervision of Dr. Megan Hendrikse, Dr. Inga Hitzeroth and Prof Ed Rybicki. My Master’s project focuses on producing high yields of Human papillomavirus (HPV) pseudovirions in tobacco plants.
Francisco Pera
MSc student
Francisco I was born in Lisbon, Portugal and lived there until I was 17. After finishing high-school, I decided to go to France to start university. I did my first BSc year (biology) in the Universite du Havre (Northern France) and then moved to Toulouse where I did my consecutive two years BSc in bio-engineering applied to plants in the Universite Paul Sabatier, Toulouse 3.

In 2012, I decided to move to Cape Town, South Africa and I did my BSc (Hons) at UCT in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology working on a new rotavirus vaccine made of virus-like particles (VLPs) under the supervision of Dr. Inga Hitzeroth and Prof. Ed Rybicki.

I am currently doing my MSc on plant produced vaccines against the Influenza Virus.
Steve O'Connor
MSc student
Susanne I grew up in Hilton in Kwa Zulu Natal. I attended St Charles College in Pietermaritzburg and then obtained my Bachelor of Science degree in molecular biology and biotechnology as well as Honours in plant biotechnology at Stellenbosch University.

I have transferred to UCT to pursue my Master’s degree. I work under Dr Ann Meyers on a project developing vaccines for Foot and Mouth Disease Virus (FMDV) in plants. Specifically; my project aims to express and optimize expression of the structural proteins of the FMDV with the intention of producing a virus-like particle (VLP) vaccine in the plant Nicotiana benthamiana. The hope is that these VLPs will provide a safer and more cost effective vaccine for the agricultural industry.
Shelley Fearon
MSc student
Shelley FearonI completed my BSc in Genetics and Ecology and BSc (Hons) in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of Cape Town.
I am currently pursuing an MSc in the Biopharming Research Unit under the supervision of Dr. Ann Meyers, Dr. Inga Hitzeroth and Prof. Ed Rybicki. My project focuses on the African horse sickness virus (AHSV), a devastating, highly infectious disease affecting equids. The research involves producing AHSV-specific antibodies and VP7 crystalline-particles in plants, for the development of potential therapeutic and prophylactic vaccines.
Hendrik (Johann) Els
MSc student
SusanneOriginally from Johannesburg, I have done a BSc in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the University of Stellenbosch followed by Honours in Molecular Cell Biology at the University of Cape Town. My honours research entailed the production of recombinant Rotavirus virus-like particles in tobacco at the Biopharming Research Unit.

My MSc project combines both molecular biology with bioprocess engineering done at the Centre for Bioprocess Engineering (CeBER). The research entails working with algae viruses for new genetic engineering techniques under the supervision of Prof Rybicki, Dr Hitzeroth and Dr Harrison (CeBER).
Scott de Beer
MSc student
SusanneI was born in KwaZulu-Natal and raised in Johannesburg for 16 years, then we moved to the Middle East (Qatar) for three years, where I completed my secondary education.

I moved back to South Africa to further my studies at the University of Cape Town, where I completed my BSc in molecular and cell biology and BSc (Hons) in the production of diagnostic reagents to the foot and mouth disease virus in plants.

I am currently doing my MSc, which is a continuation of my honours project, in order to optimise expression of these diagnostic reagents for use in a competitive-enzyme linked immunoassay to differentiate infected from vaccinated livestock. My supervisors are Dr. Ann Meyers and Prof. Ed Rybicki.
Inge Pietersen
MSc student
Inge I am currently a DST-NRF intern in the Biopharming Research Unit at the University of Cape Town.

I grew up in Pretoria and completed both my BSc and BSc (Hons) at the University of Pretoria. After spending a year living in Amsterdam and travelling around Europe, I moved to Cape Town to pursue an MSc in the Biopharming Research Unit, under the supervision of Dr. Inga Hitzeroth, Prof. Ed Rybicki, and Dr. Ann Meyers.
The focus of my MSc project is the development of a prophylactic (and potentially therapeutic) vaccine against Bovine papillomavirus type-1, which has been implicated in numerous debilitating diseases and cancers in cattle and equids, including wild species such as zebra, giraffes, and sable antelope. The hope is that we will be able to produce vaccines against multiple BPV types.
Corrie Gunter
MSc student
Corrie I am currently a DST-NRF intern in the Biopharming Research Unit at the University of Cape Town.
I completed my BSc and Honours degrees in Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of Cape Town. During my undergraduate studies I became ever more fascinated by viruses. I joined the BRU lab during my Honours year where I started working on developing plant produced porcine circovirus (PCV) coat protein.
I am currently enrolled as a full time Master’s degree student in the BRU working under the supervision of Prof Ed Rybicki, Dr Inga Hitzeroth and Dr Guy Regnard. The objective of my MSc is to further investigate the expression of the PCV capsid protein.
Raygaanah Jacobs
MSc student
Raygaanah I completed my undergraduate degree in Biochemistry and Microbiology at UCT. I then completed my Honours degree in Molecular and Cell biology in the Biopharming Research Unit (BRU) under the supervision of Dr. Guy Regnard and Dr. Inga Hitzeroth. My Honours project focused on improving the replicating plant expression vector, pRIC, that’s based on a mild strain of the Bean yellow dwarf virus (BeYDV). This was done by manipulating the replication machinery to achieve optimum protein expression in plants.
I am currently doing my MSc. Degree in the BRU lab which will be a continuation of my Honours project. In this project we will be expressing Zika virus proteins in N. benthamiana.
Varusha Veerapen
MSc student
Varusha I am Varusha Veerapen and I am from Mauritius. Cape Town became my second home since I started my undergraduate studies at the University of Cape Town. I completed my Honours in in Molecular & Cell Biology in 2015 and I am currently doing my Masters in the Biopharming Research Unit. My area of interest focuses on the expression of Foot-and-mouth disease virus structural proteins which could assemble into virus-like particles (VLPs).
Matt Verbeek
MSc student
Matt VerbeekI am a typical Joburg boy having grown up in the Northern Suburbs of Johannesburg. I moved down to Cape Town in 2012 to start my undergrad degree at UCT. I completed my BSc in Chemistry and Biochemistry in 2015 followed by my BSc Honours in Molecular and Cell Biology in 2016. I began my Master's in 2017.
I am currently working under Dr Inga Hitzeroth with my project focusing on expressing Shuni virus envelope glycoproteins and nucleoproteins in plants such as Nicotiana benthamiana for use as possible diagnostic tools and hopefully the possible development of a vaccine. 
Siphomelele Ndlovu
MSc student
Siphomelele NdlovuI am originally from Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. I completed my undergraduate studies in Biochemistry at the University of Pretoria. I then did my honours in Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of Cape Town, as part of the BRU. I am currently doing my masters under the supervision of Prof Ed Rybicki, Dr Ann Meyers and Dr Rosemary Meggersee. My project focuses on the expression of Horseradish Peroxidase (HRP) and Alkaline phosphatase fused anti-rabbit single variable chain fragments (scFvs), derived from a mouse phage display library, in N. benthamiana.
Jennifer Wayland
PhD student
Jennifer WaylandI grew up in Gauteng and completed my BSc, BSc Honours and MSc in Microbiology at the University of Pretoria. My studies focused on establishing a high-throughput sequencing-based diagnostic system for the detection of grapevine viruses. My fascination with viruses and their diagnosis led me to BRU at the University of Cape Town, with their new and exciting approaches to serological reagent and vaccine development.
Working under the supervision of Prof. Ed Rybicki and Dr Ann Meyers, my PhD is focused on the expression of the West Nile Virus NS1 and prM-E genes as reagents for serological detection and VLPs as a candidate vaccine in N. benthamiana.