News Letter - Nov - Post-Graduate Physiological Student Society by sdsdfqw21


      Post-Graduate Physiological Student Society
                            4th Edition , November 2010

                             Can you believe it – the year is almost finished and Christmas is just
                             around the corner! Clearly our department has adopted the “jet-setting”
                             lifestyle of late: interesting travels to the UK, travels to tropical Turkey
                             and so many conferences attended and achievements!!! Not to mention
                             our Honours class of 2010 presenting their year’s research on the 15th of
El Presidenté
Mark Thomas           The PPSS would like to extend a very warm congratulations to all
                             students and supervisors who appear in this newsletter for their
                             wonderful achievements and their outstanding contributions in their
 El Vice Presidenté          scientific fields – we are proud of you and we are privileged to have you
 Dr Ben Loos                 in our department. Well done to all the students who have worked             exceptionally hard this year at their projects and who are continuing next
                             year – your patience and endurance is an inspiration to us all. And may
                             your tireless work pay off 100-fold!!!
 El Secretarius
 Balindiwe Sishi             To those of you who have decided to venture out into the big bad world
                             next year – we wish you luck and hope that you achieve much success in
                             all you do, and we will miss you. Just don’t forget to pop in from time to
                             time and let us know what you have been up to .
Honour’s Representative
Gina Leisching
                             I would also like to personally thank all the individuals who contributed
                             plentiful news and stories and who gave feedback for the newsletters
                             this year. Included in this newsletter are also important days relating to
                             global heath concerns to heighten our awareness and encourage further
Master’s Representative
                             research in human disease (from Oct – Dec).
Paul Steyn
                             Its that time of the year again when the holidays in sight. Please stay safe           wherever you go, and relax and have fun in the wonderful summer
                             weather. Have a wonderful festive season and new years!!!
Editor + Academic toolbox
                             See you next year!
Kathleen Reyskens           PPSS Committee

Social and Community                                                  Birthdays
events Co-coordinator
                                                            A very happy birthday to all those
Maritza Kruger                                              who were born in the months of                                               October, November and
           Post-Graduate Physiological Student Society

The Department of Physiological Sciences again scored highly in student competitions at the annual meeting
of the Physiological Society of Southern Africa (PSSA) that was recently held in East London. Here Gina
Leisching (PhD) was awarded 2nd prize in the prestigious Wyndham competition (oral presentations), with
Paul Steyn (MSc) achieving 3rd place. Ashwin Isaacs (MSc)received an honorable mention for his
outstanding efforts. Heloise Le Roux (BSc-Hons) received the runner’s up (2nd) award for the Johnny van der
Walt poster competition.

Dr Ben Loos has also been elected as a committee member of the PSSA, with Prof Kennedy Erlwanger as
the new president and Prof Hans Strydom from Medical Physiology at Tygerberg campus as the new Vice
President of the society.

The competition for these prestigious (national) awards is quite intense and finishing among the leader board
is no mean feat. The Department has a proud record of excellent research and teaching and this is reflected
in its students performances at national meetings. For example, during 2008 and 2009, Drs. Ben Loos and
Uthra Rajamani were awarded first prizes, respectively, in the Wyndham competition. Moreover, Jamie
Imbriolo (PhD), Dr. Uthra Rajamani and Danzil Joseph (MSc) have consecutively won first prizes (for the last
three years, 2008-2010) at the annual national meeting of the Society for Endocrinology, Metabolism and
Diabetes of South Africa.

    Congratulations to all our top-performing students and mentors for their outstanding efforts!

         Dr Ben Loos recently attended the Miscroscopy Society of South Africa’s
         conference and presented exceptional microscopy images relating to his PhD
         studies – for which he won the prestigious Wirsam Tescan Prize .
         Congratulations Ben for your outstanding efforts!

          Dr Fillipo Macaluso attended the XXXIX European Muscle Conference in Padua,
          Italy, from 11-15 September. Here he presented research titled Muscle damage
          induced by an acute bout of plyometric exercise in conjuction with research from
          Ashwin Isaacs study under the supervision of Prof Kathy Myburgh. Dr Macaluso
          also has also received the Young European Society for Muscle Research Scientist
          Support Fellowship – congratulations Fillipo for this wonderful achievement!
            Post-Graduate Physiological Student Society

The Death Signaling Group was recently privileged to send three of their students to the UK.
Mark Thomas and Gina Leisching (both PhD) attended the prestigious Cancer and Metabolism:
Pathways to the Future 2010 conference hosted in Edinburgh (Edinburgh Castle top left). This
trip was made possible with funding from CANSA as well as support from their supervisor Prof
A-M Engelbrecht. The day before the conference Wilmari Uys (BSc-Hons) joined them on a
sight-seeing tour of Amsterdam with all its weird and wonderful cafes and appeals. The next
day Mark and Gina attended the 3-day conference presenting their recent works, and reported
that the conference was of an exceptionally high calibre and encompassed a variety of
interesting topics including the metabolic transformation of cancers. Thereafter all three
students did some further sight-seeing in and around Edinburgh, with the sampling of haggis
and even a potential sighting of the Loch Ness monster . The students found the excursion
very insightful and were grateful to have had the opportunity to travel overseas as well as being
part of a research community that promotes the development of young scientists.

          Prof Kathy Myburgh and Dr Naomi Brooks from the Muscle
          Research Group recently hosted a research day in October in the
          department. Here they invited the participants from their human-
          based studies to learn more about muscle research that the team
          is involved in. The Muscle group focuses on stressors and
          adaptation mechanisms of muscle and investigate changes in
          muscle damage, inflammation, cell damage as well as satellite
          stem cell activation relating to muscle physiology. The findings of
          these studies were also made available to the participants and
          they had the opportunity to discuss the results and interact with
          the scientists with light refreshment served afterwards.
          Post-Graduate Physiological Student Society

                                            It is with great joy that we
                                            announce     the   successful
                                            completion of the MSc degree
You will have noticed that our faculty      by Michelle Vermeulen cum
librarian, Mr Pieter du Plessis, has        laude under the supervision of
recently been forwarding updates on         Prof Anna-Mart Engelbrecht.
scientific       discoveries      and       Congratulations!!!
publications     weekly    from    the
prestigious journal Nature. It is
important for researchers and
students to keep up to date with the        Dr. Uthra Rajamani recently
latest findings and breakthroughs in        attended the Annual Post
science, and you can do this by             Doctoral Research day hosted
logging on to your favourite journal’s      at the STIAS conference
website and subscribing for the             centre on the 29th October,
alerts. You can then stay in touch          and was presented with the
with the latest findings and expand         prize for Best Presentation by
your scientific knowledge.                  its president Dr. James
                                            Meiring.     Congratulations
For more information please contact         Uthra!
Pieter (

                                         The Dean of Science has awarded 4 members of
                                         staff in our department for their outstanding
                                         contributions in the following areas:

                                                     Excellence in Research
                                                     - Profs MF Essop & A-M Engelbrecht
                                                     Excellence in Teaching
                                                     - Dr. De Wet Strauss
                                                     Excellent Service
                                                     - Mrs. Catrina Martins

                                                  Congratulations to you all!!!
              Post-Graduate Physiological Student Society

                     Our post graduate students recently took part in a
                     community outreach project in Masizakhele in
                     Blackheath. With quite a few extra pair of hands the
                     crew aided in the building of houses under the
                     initiative of the Mellon Housing project between
                     South Africa and Ireland. As depicted in the
                     photograph (right), hard work was undertaken but
                     the students felt proud to be helping and improving
                     this community 

“and hold…2..3..4 ladies!” Every Tuesday and Thursday morning Dr
Naomi Brooks, Annali and Nosiviwe host an exercise workshop for the
ladies who tend to the vegetable garden at the Ikhaya primary school in
Stellenbosch. The vegetable garden serves as an initiative to provide
the school children with healthy food and education about a healthy
diet. Here Naomi and her team teach aerobic exercise as well as
strength training (see photo). This practical training and the close
proximity of the vegetable garden ensure that these ladies maintain a
healthy lifestyle : healthy body + good diet. So eat your veggies and get
going on that treadmill! Summer is here!

If you would like to participate in this exciting endeavour, please contact
Dr Brooks (

                           On the 15th November our Honours students presented their research
                           work conducted during the year. A variety of interesting topics were
                           covered and there was an opportunity for the audience to discuss the
                           student’s findings. Prizes were handed out as well for achievements
                           with the recipients in the photo (from left to right) : Mr Jacques Fourie
                           (Whitehead Scientific – Sponsorship of Prizes), Clare Springhorn (Best
                           Honours student), Carla Pool (Best Oral Presentation), Mariechen Le
                           Roux (Best final year undergraduate), Prof MF Essop, Dr R Smith,
                           Prof A-M Engelbrecht. Congratulations and well done to the Honours
                           class of 2010 for their wonderful research and presentations!
Post-Graduate Physiological Student Society

  Dr Carine Smith and PhD student Mari Van de Vyver attended the
  15th Annual Congress of the European College of Sports
  Medicine from June 23rd-26th in Antalya, Turkey. Here both Mari
  and Dr. Smith presented work - “Skeletal biopsies do not affect
  circulating markers of muscle damage” was presented by Mari,
  and Dr. Smith presented work from her students Maritza Kruger
  (PhD) and Geraldine Pretorius (MSc) regarding the involvement
  of immune cells and cytokines with chronic Oxyprovin™
  supplementation as well as its effects on contusion injury in an
  animal model. The investigators attended the conference at a
  five-star hotel, Adam & Eve (bottom left), and managed to do
  some sightseeing at some of the ancient cities and architecture
  built by Alexander the Great (top left).

 Balindiwe Sishi has recently been invited to attend a joint
 meeting of the British and South African Societies of
 Cardiovascular Research as well as the Basic Science
 Cardiovascular Research Societies in the UK from the 4th to
 6th December. The purpose of this meeting is to highlight
 research by young scientists and strengthen collaborations
 between the UK and SA in this promising field. Importantly, 5
 PhD students in the field of Cardiovascular research from
 academic institutions in South Africa will be invited to attend
 this meeting and spend valuable time in research laboratories
 based in the UK. Good luck Bali and enjoy the trip!

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