Search

Academic Staff

Ed Rybicki | Biopharming Research Unit

Research | Publications | Patents | Collaborations | Lab members

ed.rybicki@uct.ac.za | Telephone: +27 21 650 3265 | Facsimile: +27 21 650 2646

Research

Vaccinology / protein expression
Research activities here are centred on the use of plants and of recombinant baculoviruses in insect tissue cultures to make candidate vaccines against Human papillomaviruses, HIV-1 subtype C, Beak and feather disease virus (BFDV) of psittacines, H5N1 and H1N1 influenza viruses, Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever and Rift Valley fever viruses, and Foot and mouth disease virus. The use of geminiviruses as vectors of foreign genes in plants is a topic of interest. The group also has a strong interest in the use of novel DNA vaccine vectors incorporating Porcine circovirus type 1 (PCV-1) enhancer elements, and the use of plants to make commercially important reagents and diagnostics.

Marine Viromics / Virus Diversity
A recent project is a next-generation sequencing programme aimed at assessing oceanic and near-shore diversity of viruses, and in particular those associated with cellular organisms important in marine food webs. We are also continuing an investigation of plant geminivirus diversity and molecular biology (since 1985), of Human papillomaviruses (since 1989) and of Beak and feather disease virus of psittacines in southern Africa (since 2004).


Virus graphics courtesy of Russell Kightley

Selected publications

I have authored or co-authored over 120 articles and 19 reviews in peer-reviewed journals, and about 20 book chapters, as well as a number of popular or opinion articles and conference report-backs in journals. A comprehensive and up-to-date list is available via Google Scholar citations.

Books
As of late June 2015, I have published two ebooks with a virology theme on the Apple iBooks Store. These are A Short History of the Discovery of Viruses, and Influenza Virus: Introduction to a Killer. Both were composed using Apple's iBooks Author app, and published in iBooks format, for reading with the iBooks app on Mac, iPad or iPhone. I am amenable to publishing PDF versions of both if there is any demand - however, this means losing some of the iBooks functionality.

Sadly, neither is available on the South African store, so if you would like one, go to the US/UK stores via iTunes. If you would like a promotional code in order to assess the books for recommendation to students or colleagues, please contact me directly.

Online
I have been involved since 1994 in writing educational and study material for the Web, and my much-updated Electronic Introduction to Molecular Virology is still available on this site, as well as via the UCT Open Educational Resources page. One of the more accessed resources in the UCT OER repository is my Manual of Online Molecular Biology Techniques, which is extensively used by researchers outside of UCT.

Additionally, I maintain a university-level Virology teaching resource called ViroBlogy, as well as a general public information site called Virology News. I also run the International Society for Plant Molecular Farming site, co-curate an information page on aquatic viruses and another on virology and bioinformatics, and tweet on virology topics (and other things) under @edrybicki.

I have also written a number of stories, essays and songs for the Web over the last 20 years.

Patents

I am listed as an inventor on some 17 patent families, with around 44 country patents published (see Google Scholar).
Recent patents:
2013 | HPV Chimaeric Particle, EP Rybicki, II Hitzeroth | WO Patent 2,013,080,187
2013 | Expression of Proteins in Plants, A Williamson, EP Rybicki, JM Maclean, II Becker-Hitzeroth | US Patent 20,130,130,314
2012 | Chimaeric Human Papillomavirus 16 L1 Virus-like Particles and a Method for Preparing the Particles, AD Varsani, EP Rybicki | US Patent 8,163,557
2011 | Recombinant Protein Bodies as Immunogen-Specific Adjuvants, EP Rybicki, AE Meyers, F Devesa, P Marzábal Luna, II Hitzeroth, P Öhlschläger | US Patent 20,110,262,478
2011 | Expression of Viral Proteins in Plants, A Williamson, EP Rybicki, JM Maclean | EP Patent 2,374,892
2011 | Method for Enhancing the Expression of HPV L1, EP Rybicki, II Hitzeroth | WO Patent WO/2011/077,371    

Collaborations

Prof Vernon Coyne, MCB
Prof Anna-Lise Williamson, Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine
Prof Sue Harrison, Dept Chemical Engineering, UCT
Prof Marietjie Venter, University of Pretoria
Markus Sack, Fraunhofer Institute, Aachen
Dr Tomas Moravec, Institute of Experimental Botany, Czech Republic
Dr Neil Christensen, Dept Pathology, Penn State, USA
Miriam Bastida, ZIP Solutions, Spain
Andres Wigdorowitz, INTA, Argentina
Marc-Andre D’Aoust, Medicago, Canada

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
Own website
More informationDr Ann Meyers
Research Officer
Lab 304 | Tel +27 21 650 5712
ann.meyers@uct.ac.za
Own website
Renate More informationDr Renate Lamprecht
Honorary Research Affiliate
renate.lamprecht@uct.ac.za
Dr Megan Hendrickse Dr Megan HendrikseMore information
Post-doctoral fellow
megan.hendrikse@uct.ac.za
More informationDr Guy Reynard
Post-doctoral fellow
GLRegnard@gmail.com
Dr Alta van ZylMore information
Post-doctoral fellow
alta.vanzyl@uct.ac.za
Dr Hapiloe Maranyane More informationDr Rosemary Meggersee
Post-doctoral fellow
rosemary.meggersee@uct.ac.za
Sandiswa MbewanaMore information
Post-doctoral fellow
mbwsan001@myuct.ac.za
Aleyo ChabedaMore information
Post-doctoral fellow
aleyo.chabeda@uct.ac.za

Emmanuel MargolinMore information
Senior Scientific Officer
emmanuel.margolin@gmail.com

Maureen Maureen BaloyiMore information
Scientific officer
maureen.baloyi89@gmail.com
Francisco PeraMore information
CGEX Intern
dfgfra001@myuct.ac.za
Scot de Beer More informationScott de Beer
CGEX Intern
Scott.DeBeer@alumni.uct.ac.za
Sue Sue DennisMore information
PhD student
suedennis7@gmail.com
Jennifer StanderMore information
PhD student
jennifer-wayland@hotmail.com
Melie

More informationMélie Buyse
PhD student
meliebuyse@hotmail.com

Phindile XimbaMore information
PhD student
xmbphi001@myuct.ac.za
dylan More informationDylan Stevens
PhD student
d.s.troy@icloud.com
Corrie Gunter Corrie GunterMore information
NRF Intern
Corrie.Gunter@alumni.uct.ac.za
Ayesha AdamsMore information
MSc student
admaye004@myuct.ac.za
Shelley FearonMore information
MSc student
smtshe005@myuct.ac.za
Steven o'Connor More informationSteven O'Connor
MSc student
thestevenoconnor@gmail.com
Raygaanah Jacobs Raygaanah JacobsMore information
MSc student
Raygaanah.Jacobs@alumni.uct.ac.za
Hendrik Els More informationHendrik Els
MSc student
Hendrik.Els@alumni.uct.ac.za
Matt VerbeekMore information
MSc student
vrbmat001@myuct.ac.za
Inge Pietersen More informationInge Pietersen
MSc student
Inge.Pietersen@alumni.uct.ac.za
Asanda MatisoMore information
MSc student
asandamatiso0@gmail.com
Siphomelele NdlovuMore information
MSc student
ndlsip021@myuct.ac.za
Paulina NaupaMore information
MSc student
npxpau002@myuct.ac.za
Frances LeesMore information
MSc student
lsxfra001@myuct.ac.za
Tim PlasketMore information
MSc student
plstim001@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 Renate Lamprecht
Honorary Research Affiliate
Renate I completed my BSC, BSc Hons and MSc degrees in Microbiology at University of Pretoria during 2003 to 2008. In my initial post-graduate years I have characterized two new plant rhabdoviruses. After University of Pretoria, I moved to Somerset West and started my PhD in Genetics at Stellenbosch University. During my PhD I characterized two South African isolates of Grapevine fanleaf virus, by determining their the full-length genome sequences. These full-length genome sequences were the first GFLV isolates to be completely sequenced from Africa. One of these two isolates was found to be associated with a satellite RNA, which was only the second Grapevine fanleaf virus satellite RNA to be described worldwide. I constructed a fully functional full-length infectious cDNA clone based on the newly described satellite RNA, which may in future studies prove to be a powerful molecular tool in the grapevine research community. Currently, I am a Post-Doctoral Fellow in Prof Ed Rybicki's group, working on recombinant HPV protein production in plants, for the development of cheaper vaccines to protect against multiple HPV types.  
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
My research interest is in applied science specifically virology and using virus genetic elements to build protein production platforms that can be applied in human and animal health, and industry. In addition, I am interested in viral replication of RNA and DNA viruses. To this end I have published 9 research articles in peer-reviewed journals. I am an associate member of the American Society of Virology and a member of the International Society for Plant Molecular Farming.

I am currently a postdoctoral research fellow under the supervision of Prof. Ed Rybicki and Prof. Anna-Lise Williamson in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology and Institute of Infectious Disease & Molecular Medicine. I supervise two PhD students and one Masters student and recently graduated my first Masters student. When I am not supervising I am involved in concept design, grant writing, editing manuscripts and in the beginning stages of lecturing with an aim to establish my own research.
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. 

As a Post-doctoral fellow in the BRU I have worked on the production of Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine candidates in plants. I have supervised students working on HPV, Foot and mouth disease virus (FMDV) and Bovine papillomavirus (BPV).  My present research project focusses on the production of candidate vaccines against Lassa fever virus (LASV) and Crimean Congo hemorrhagic fever virus (CCHFV).
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. 
Sandiswa Mbewana
Post-doctoral fellow
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
Post-doctoral fellow
I am from Nairobi, Kenya. I completed my BSc in Biochemistry and Microbiology from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and a BSc (Hons) in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of Cape Town (UCT). On completion of my Honours, I remained at UCT to do a MSc in the Biopharming Research Unit and upgraded to PhD. My PhD research focused on the development of potentially broadly protective prophylactic virus-like particle (VLP) vaccine candidates for Human papillomaviruses (HPV), and the production of synthetic HPV viruses for the delivery of a DNA vaccine.

My Post-Doctoral research project will explore the use of CRIPSR/cas genome editing tools for the treatment and cure of cervical cancer, caused by HPV.
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 postgraduate training. I am currently working for the HIV Vaccine Development Group at Medical School on a MRC- funded project which aims to develop next generation HIV vaccines, for the induction of neutralizing antibodies. During the course of the project I was responsible for the development of a transient expression system for the production of HIV-1 Envelope glycoprotein trimers in plants and their immunogenicity testing in animals. This aspect of the project is hosted in the Biopharming research unit where I work closely with Dr Ann Meyers and Prof Ed Rybicki. 

This study is ongoing and is currently focused on improving the glycosylation and folding of these HIV Env antigens, as well as expanding the range of glycoproteins produced with this platform. My main research interests at present are the production of viral glycoproteins in plants and mammalian cells for use as vaccine antigens. I also have an ongoing interest in the modification of the plant secretory pathway for the optimal production of candidate vaccines.
Maureen Baloyi
Scientific Officer
I am currently employed as a Scientific Officer in the Biopharming Research Unit (BRU) at the University of Cape Town, where I assist the Postdocs with research work affiliated to their particular projects and also do admin related work for the lab. I have obtained my B.Sc degree and Honours degree in Biotechnology at the University of the Western Cape. My honours project was based on investigating drought and salt stress related proteins in Sorghum varieties. I have also completed my MSc degree in Biochemistry at the University of Johannesburg. The project was based on plant innate immunity, focussing on identifying plasma membrane responsive proteins as well as LPS receptor(s) in Arabidopsis thaliana.
Francisco Pera
CGEX Intern
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.
Scott de Beer
CGEX Intern
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.
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.
Jennifer Stander
PhD student
Jennifer StanderI 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.
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.
Phindile Ximba
PhD student
Phindile XimbaI am originally from the small town in the Northern side of KZN. I completed my B.Sc in Biochemistry and Chemistry at University of KwaZulu Natal in 2011. I then completed MSc in Biochemistry in 2014, also at UKZN. My MSc project focused on recombinant expression and characterisation of trypanosomal cysteine proteases for the development of point-of-care diagnostic tests for animal trypanosomiasis.

In 2015, I joined UCT Medical Virology lab as a scientific officer working on the SHIP project focusing on developing HIV-1 Env subunit vaccines to elicit broadly neutralising antibodies. I am currently registered as a PhD student under the co-supervision of Dr Ros Chapman, Prof. Anna-Lise Williamson, Dr Ann Mayers and Prof. Ed Rybicki. My project is focusing on using different tags to improve the production and immunogenicity of Env produced in both mammalian and plant expression systems.
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.
Corrie Gunter
NRF Intern
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.
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.
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.
Steve O'Connor
MSc student
Steven 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.
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.
Hendrik (Johann) Els
MSc student
HendrikOriginally 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).
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. 
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.
Asanda Matiso
MSc student
I'm originally from King William's Town in the Eastern Cape. I completed my National diploma in Biotechnology (2010 - 2012) and BTech degree in Biomedical Technology (2013 - 2014) at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. I first joined BRU in April 2016 as a NRF intern. I am currently pursuing my MSc under the supervision of Dr Ann Meyers, Dr Inga Hitzeroth and Prof Ed Rybicki. My project focuses on the use of a mouse phage display library to generate single chain variable fragments (scFvs) antibodies against Ribulose-1,5-biphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase or RuBisCO which is regarded as the main potential contaminant in plant produced proteins.
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.
Paulina Naupa
MSc student
PaulinaI was born and raised in the northern part of Namibia. In 2013 I started my undergraduate studies in Bsc Microbiology (honours) at the University of Namibia, which I completed in 2016.  My honours project focused on the antibacterial properties of plants. I then moved to South Africa to pursue MSc with the biopharming research unit at the University of Cape Town under the supervision of Dr Inga Hitzeroth, Dr Alta van Zyl and Dr Megan Hendrickse. My Master’s project focuses on the production of Human papillomavirus (HPV) universal L2-based pseudovirions in tobacco plants.
Frances Lees
MSc student
FrancesI completed my BSc in Genetics and Biochemistry at UCT. I then completed a BSc (Hons) in Molecular and Cell Biology department at UCT under the supervision of  Prof. Nicola Illing, and my project focused on the extraction of ancient DNA from bones that have been excavated from South African archaeological sites.  

I am currently a first year Masters student in the Biopharming Research Unit in the MCB department, under the supervision of Dr Inga Hitzeroth and Dr Renate Lamprecht. My project focuses on expressing and the purification of outer membrane proteins and an enzyme of the Brucella bacterium in plants for the development of a candidate subunit vaccine. 
Tim Plasket
MSc student
TimI grew up in Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape. I moved to Cape Town to study at UCT in 2014. I completed my BSc with majors in Biochemistry and Genetics in 2016, which I then followed with a BSc(Hons) in Molecular and Cell Biology in 2017.

I am currently in the Biopharming Research Unit studying towards my MSc under the supervision of Dr Inga Hitzeroth and Dr Rosemary Meggersee. My project focuses on the African Horse Sickness Virus (AHSV), a midge-borne disease which severely affects equids in Sub-Saharan Africa. I am particularly interested in generating antibody-like molecules (short chain variable fragments or ScFvs) derived from a phage display library which are specific to AHSV serotype 5.