In 2005, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) was selected by the New Partnership for Africa's Development to host the Southern African Network for Biosciences (SANBio). SANBio operates with a multi-country, regional approach and it consists of a regional hub (the SANBio Hub at the CSIR) and a number of national nodes. The SANBio Hub is designed to make a significant contribution to achieving the objectives of the SANBio network by providing access to worldclass research and translational infrastructure and expertise in multi-disciplinary and diverse scientific fields.

Through the SANBio Hub, the Southern African region can leverage the extensive experience and world-class facilities at the CSIR to accelerate technology development. Furthermore, through the Hub, access can also be facilitated to other competencies within the CSIR (ICT, logistics, materials manufacture, resource monitoring and built environment planning) to facilitate the implementation of innovation programmes to realise maximum societal impact in reasonable time frames.


SANBio Hub technology platforms

The SANBio Hub is located within the Biosciences Unit at the CSIR, a world-class life sciences institution that develops innovative tools and products for socio-economic benefit. The Biosciences Unit has four main technology platforms:

* Health and pioneering sciences: pioneering and breakthrough life science research spanning the spectrum from gene engineering, cellular biology and medicinal chemistry and supported by a strong bio-analytical and proteomics, competence, bioassays and high throughput screening platforms, as well as molecular diagnostics tools enabling the development of low-cost and efficient tools for disease detection.

* Bioprospecting and agro-processing: the platform adds value to South Africa's biodiversity through scientific research to identify, characterise natural extracts and compounds and setting up a biorepository in the form of an annotated compound and extracts library from which new ingredients could be developed for the food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical markets.

* Biomanufacturing technologies: focuses on developing protein expression systems to produce antibodies, proteins or vaccines at low cost using readily scalable technologies. Moreover, the area focuses on supporting SMMEs in the biomanufacturing sector to develop products and getting market acceptance in the bioprocessing and agro-processing industries.


SANBio Hub offerings

The Hub offers access to the following Biosciences Unit capabilities, not limited to:

Health and pioneering sciences

  • Bioassays and screening technologies for HIV, TB, malaria, antimicrobial, anti-cancer, and antiviral activity
  • Medium- to high-throughput screening platforms
  • Metagenome sequencing, assembly and sequence analysis synthetic and systems biology
  • High resolution microscopy
  • Synthetic organic chemistry
  • Bioinformatics and bio-analytics
  • Profiling of small molecules, and protein and genetic markers of disease in clinical samples
  • Validation of genetic and protein markers relevant to drug efficacy and safety
  • High resolution mass spectrometry based SWATH assays for targeted screening of biological samples
  • Bioprospecting and agro-processing
  • Ethnobotany, taxonomy and biodiversity collection
  • Laboratory chemical extraction
  • Bioassay guided fractionation and chemical profiling of extracts through UPLC MS/MS
  • NMR, MS, UV and databased structure elucidation of natural products
  • Target and pharmacophore studies
  • HPLC, MS and GC chemical method development
  • Interpretation of biological and chemical data (in vitro and in vivo)
  • Scale-up natural product processing and prototype manufacture - pilot plant
  • Spray drying and CO2 extraction
  • Formulation development - various: Liquids, solids, tea bags, creams, and so forth
  • Food processing and product development
  • Drug encapsulation
  • Product stability and interpretation of data
  • Indigenous knowledge and biodiversity management Biomanufacturing technologies
  • Cell-based expression technologies utilising bacteria, yeasts and plants to manufacture biologics
  • Capabilities in enzyme discovery, enzyme modification, molecular biology, fermentation, chemistry and process chemistry skills
  • Bioprocessing equipment, including protein purification
  • Process engineering and scale-up
  • Analytical capabilities and bio-equivalence studies
  • Production of animal vaccines, human therapeutics, antibodies and industrial biologicals


Capacity development

The Hub has a strong record in human capital development, particularly at postgraduate level where we host a large number of MSc and PhD students annually, as well as a number of interns and in-service trainees. The SANBio Hub offers a number of training opportunities at the CSIR, as well as host members from the SANBio network in our laboratories as visiting scientists. In addition, the Hub has a number of leading experts in the various disciplines mentioned above. These experts will be made available to consult on the development of identified capabilities (HCD and infrastructure) within institutions in the SANBio network.  




SANBio Hub Manager: Dr Dharmarai Naicker

Tel: +27 (0)12 841 2788




SANBio Programme Manager: Dr Sechaba Bareetseng

Tel: +27 (0)12 841 2574