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12 April 2022
International Acclaim for UWC Doctoral Candidate

An article by a University of the Western Cape (UWC) doctoral graduate has been lauded by the prestigious science journal, Pathology & Oncology Research (POR). 

Dr Catherine Rossouw’s article - Evaluation of Protein Purification Techniques and Effects of Storage Duration on LC-MS/MS Analysis of Archived FFPE Human CRC Tissues - was selected for the journal’s Editor’s Pick 2021 collection. 

The collection of 11 articles represents the most well-received articles published in POR last year - research that “ displays compelling advancement of the fields of pathology and oncology, as well as work bridging the gap between basic research and clinical medicine”. 

Dr Rossouw (pictured) said she worked “extremely hard” to complete her PhD. She experienced many obstacles and had to make significant sacrifices. 

“So it is very rewarding to have all my efforts acknowledged in this way,” she said. 

“I am very grateful to all my co-authors for their valuable input and support. The project was designed with a multi-disciplinary group of researchers, and I feel that this approach determined its success. I have also had unwavering support from my supervisor, Professor Alan Christoffels, without whom this would not have been possible.” 

The Paarl native obtained her first degree, a BSc degree from the University of Cape Town (UCT), followed by BSc (Hons) and MSc (Med) at UCT. She then started with her PhD in 2013 at the South African National Bioinformatics Institute (SANBI).

Dr Rossouw said she enjoyed her studies, especially the research, experimental design and writing components, and hopes that her research outputs can contribute to and help expand and build on previous studies in the field.

She was the first member of her immediate family and cousins, on both paternal and maternal sides, to complete a university degree and PhD. She hopes that she will have the opportunity to explore cancer genomics as a research topic.

Prof Christoffels, Director and DST/NRF Research Chair in Bioinformatics, said: “We are excited about the recognition that Catherine's work has shown an impact that defines the field of pathology". 

He said she worked “meticulously” on experiments to get supporting evidence showing which method is best to analyse proteins in colon cancer samples archived at hospitals. 

“This is important because the field has not given any empirical evidence on which protein methods to use, and Catherine's work was able to provide that evidence. She has subsequently published another methods paper. Her PhD was delayed by two years because of logistic errors and then the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown period hit. She has persevered and graduated last year,” said Prof Christoffels. 

“This was the first student I had where the international examiner said she had "never seen any thesis where there was no need for a correction in the reporting or the grammar."

Find the journal here.