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Academic week 2017

Location: School of Public Health
Contact: Science Faculty

12h00 – 12h45: Dr Donatella de Pascale
From North Sea to Antarctica: discovering a world of new compounds

12h55 – 13h40: Prof Mark Gibbons

13h50 – 14h30: Prof Ralf Henkel
Publish or Perish

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Starts: 2017/09/15 13:00
Ends: 2017/09/15 13:00

Venue: School of Public Health

12h00 – 12h45: Dr Donatella de Pascale
From North Sea to Antarctica: discovering a world of new compounds

12h55 – 13h40: Prof Mark Gibbons

13h50 – 14h30: Prof Ralf Henkel
Publish or Perish


From North Sea to Antarctica: discovering a world of
new compounds

Donatella de Pascale
Institute of Protein Biochemistry, National Research Council in Naples

Abstract: The increasing alarm of multidrug resistant (MDR) bacteria in the last 20 years
has led the scientific community to the exploitation of novel sources of antimicrobial
compounds. Several studies have demonstrated the incredible potential of marine
organisms as producers of unknown molecules with novel scaffolds, which might be useful
for drug discovery and many biotechnological processes.

The Antarctic environment, as well as having incredibly low temperatures, possesses other diverse traits that may have helped to shape the unique way in which Antarctic bacteria have evolved. In this talk, a biodiscovery pipeline aimed at the identification of novel anti-microbial compounds, starting from the isolation of bacteria from Antarctica and other marine sources will be described. 

About the speaker: Dr. Donatella de Pascale graduated in Biological Science in 1992 at the University of Naples with summa cum laude, and got her PhD in Biotechnology in 2000 at the Second University of Naples. She is a Researcher and Principal Investigator at the Institute of Protein Biochemistry at the Italian Research Center in Naples. She participated in the FP7 PharmaSea Project and is the Coordinator of several other H2020 projects (MSCA-ITN: MarPipe and MSCA RISE: Ocean Medicines) as well as the Coordinator of the Program for Antarctic Research (PNRA). Her research activity is mostly focused on natural products from marine sources in particular on new antimicrobials targeted towards MDR. She has published more than 50 papers in peer reviewed journals. She is Expert for the EU Commission since 2013 and she was recently elected to the Euro Marine Steering Committee.


Professor Mark Gibbons
Department of Biodiversity and Conservation Biology, University of the Western Cape

Abstract: Although the word jellyfish has only been around for the last couple of hundred
years, the animals themselves are embedded in our culture and, increasingly, in our science.
This presentation does not have a beginning and an end but is rather a rambling combination of
Zoology 101 and Classics 101, with a liberal does of media hype. There is some science
c/o PNAS, Nature, the Royal Society and Science (itself) but the aim here is to celebrate in all but dance, the kings of
the Cambrian.

About the speaker: Professor Mark Gibbons obtained his BSc(Hons) in Marine Biology from the University of Liverpool back in 1983 when that institution still had a marine biology research station on the Isle of Man: alas no more. He subsequently worked on Fijian Hydroids for Prof John Ryland at Swansea University (whilst “on the dole”), before coming to UCT in 1984 to do a PhD with Charles Griffiths on rocky shore meiofauna. Mark subsequently joined the “plankton bums” at Sea Point in 1989 where he worked on non-copepod zooplankton (e.g. euphausiids, chaetognaths and salps) in the southern Benguela ecosystem, under the loose command of Larry Hutchings. He was seconded by the FRD to the greatest SA University: The University of the Western Cape in 1995, where he became a full-time staff member late in 1996. Since then he has worked his way progressively through the ranks, having survived\ retrenchments and attempted coups, but not management. Mark’s research is still largely focused on zooplankton, but he has been involved in attempts to revitalise work on a number of benthic invertebrate groups including sponges, bryozoans, nematodes and foraminifera, as well as polychaetes. His current research mainly concerns medusozoans (aka jellyfish), which he has studied through collaboration with colleagues across the world, controversially contributing to both regional and international debates on the “rise of slime”. He has a special interest in the marine ecosystem off Namibia, which he considers to represent an important global “What if?” experiment. He is married, with three children, and lives in Cape Town

Publish or Perish

Ralf Henkel
Department of Medical Bioscience, University of the Western Cape

Abstract: In the general public, the job profile of a successful scientist is often misperceived.
Nowadays, reality of a scientist profile is having high lecture loads, working overtime, doing
research and publish the results under high pressure, not only in one paper, but in numerous
papers with high impact. Thus, the scientist’s job is not a 9 to 5, but rather a 24/7 job. An
academic not achieving these high standards has then either problems being employed or is not recognized in the scientific fraternity. Therefore, it is important that young students in training are properly prepared for this extremely competitive career. Characteristics that a student will either have to have or has to learn are resilience, humility, reading a lot, versatility, engagement with leaders in the field, and optimism. However, one of the most important characteristics of a scientist is having a high tolerance for frustration as not every grant proposal, every experiment and every manuscript are successful and accepted for funding and publication, respectively. In addition, a scientist has to understand what plagiarism is and has to avoid it. If simple guidelines are followed, research and publishing the results will be exciting and rewarding, and not a running of a gauntlet.

About the speaker: Ralf Henkel studied Biology and Chemistry at the
University of Marburg, Germany, and obtained his PhD in 1990 on
investigating the protein secretion of rabbit blastocysts during early
pregnancy. Subsequently, he commenced working in Andrology in
Giessen and Jena, Germany, and is currently Senior Professor for
Reproductive Biology and Head of the Department of Medical
Bioscience at the University of the Western Cape, Bellville, South
Africa, and holds an Honorary Professorship at the Universidad
Peruana Cayetano Heredia in Lima, Peru. He published more than 100
papers and 29 book chapters, and supervised 69 postgraduate
students. Ralf Henkel is member of the Editorial Boards of five
international journals and Co-Editor-in-Chief of the international journal
‘Andrologia’. His special research interest is on the impact of oxidative
stress on sperm functions, DNA fragmentation and fertilization, as well
as the effects of Herbal Medicine on male reproductive functions.


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