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Edkins to further biochemistry research as SARChI Chair

Date Released: Wed, 2 September 2015 14:39 +0200

Dr Adrienne Edkins of Rhodes University’s Faculty of Science was today awarded the position of Chair holder for the South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) for her research in biochemistry and cell biology. 
Run by the Department of Science and Technology and National Research Foundation, The SARChI Chair programme provides long term, high level funding to selected academics in order to allow them to focus on full time research and postgraduate training.
Edkins’ research is aimed at developing a detailed understanding of how eukaryotic cells respond to physical or environmental stress in the presence of toxins or heavy metals, extreme temperatures, lack of oxygen or mutations in genes, otherwise known as ‘stress response’. This research could lead to therapies for human diseases like cancer, malaria and trypansomiasis. She explains that being awarded the position of SARChI Chair will make for better research for both her and her students.    
“This award will provide me with the resources, support and time to drive an ambitious research programme that will allow us to become world leaders in our field,” said Edkins. “Linked to this is the ability to create new national and international collaborations, and to introduce world class technologies to my laboratory, both of which will increase the training opportunities and research exposure for my postgraduate students.” 
Shortly before hearing the good news, Edkins was in her laboratory when she received a call from Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research Dr Peter Clayton requesting her to meet in his office. “I was aware that the outcome from our applications was expected any day and so you can imagine that the hour between the phone call and our meeting was one of the most nerve wracking hours of my life,” said Edkins. “Thankfully the news was positive and so naturally I was over the moon.”
“Personally, this is the fulfilment of a goal that I have had since I first started as an academic,” she added.  “I feel extremely privileged to have been given such an opportunity and I can’t wait to start.”
Speaking on the quality of Rhodes University’s research, Edkins said that the institution provides for a unique research, partly due to its size and history which allow for better research experience and training.
“There is a strong research culture embedded in the university, as well as a dedication to academic freedom that are both vital for building a stimulating and creative research environment,” said Edkins. “Rhodes outperforms many of the larger institutions if you take into account that we are the smallest university in South Africa.  To me our small size is a positive factor.”  
Article by: Dave Mann
Photograph by: Ruan Scheepers

Source:Communications and Marketing