Marine Biodiscovery @ Rhodes
Marine biodiscovery is an important component of all international integrated marine biotechnology research platforms and can be defined as the search for marine natural products and other marine biomaterials that may be of benefit to society for example: as novel medicines, as sources of innovative medical devices and diagnostics, as new agrochemicals and as bioactive components in environmentally compatible, marine anti-fouling coatings.
The search for new chemical entities with exploitable medicinal properties is the cornerstone of modern drug discovery. Traditionally, these new chemical entities have been procured from several sources including the vast natural product reservoirs characteristic of terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Many marine organisms (invertebrates, algae and micro-organisms) produce natural products as a chemical defence against predation or in a chemically mediated response to, amongst others, inter-species competition for limited resources (e.g. space on a reef or nutrients) and intra-species communication (e.g. larval settling cues). The coastline of southern Africa, stretching approximately 3000kms from southern Namibia in the west to southern Mozambique in the east, sustains a unique diversity of endemic marine fauna and flora that can offer rich rewards for marine natural products chemists in search of novel bioactive secondary metabolites with possible medicinal properties. Over the last three decades the search for novel pharmaceuticals from southern African marine organisms has thus far yielded a plethora of bioactive metabolites with diverse pharmaceutical potential. The marine biodiscovery research group at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa has been in existence since 1992 and we welcome you to our website.
At the end of July, postdoctoral fellow Dr. Sunny Sunassee visited the Molecular Targets Laboratory (MTL) at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Frederick, Maryland USA. During his visit at the NCI, Dr. Sunassee met with the head of the Natural Products Chemistry Branch of the MTL research group Dr. Kirk Gustafson, along with former Rhodes University postdoctoral fellow Dr. Wendy Popplewell.
After he obtained his BSC Honours in Marine Chemistry at the University of Wales, Bangor, Chris Gray moved to South Africa in 1996 and worked with both Professor McQuaid from the Zoology department and Professor Mike Davies-Coleman for his MSc studies. Chris then moved to the Marine Biodiscovery laboratory for his PhD studies and worked under the supervision of Prof. Davies-Coleman. He completed his PhD in 2002 after which he spent two more years at Rhodes University as a Post Doctoral fellow and junior lecturer in the Chemistry Department. Chris then moved to the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada to work with Professor Raymond Andersen as a Post Doctoral fellow between 2004-2007, before moving to the University of New Brunswick where he is currently an Associate Professor of chemistry in the department of Chemistry and Biology. ...read more
Prof Mike Davies-Coleman and Dr. Suthananda (Sunny) Sunassee were invited to participate in the Namibian National Science week held in Windhoek from 12th-16th September 2011.
In August 2011, Dr Sunny Sunassee and PhD student Ryan Young attended the 52nd Annual meeting of the American Society of Pharmacognosy in San Diego, USA. This highly prestigious conference was attended by over 600 delegates from all around the world including France, New Zealand, India. ...read more
Graduation 2011, held on Thursday 7th April, was a memorable evening for the Marine Biodiscovery Research Group which saw the award of the PhD degree to Sunny Sunassee, MSc degrees with distinction to Matthew Adendorff and Candice Bromley and a BSc Honours degree to Nicole D’Souza. Sadly, Matt Adendorff who is at MIT in the USA studying for his PhD, couldn’t attend the graduation ceremony. Wonderful news however, was that Candy was presented with the S2A3 medal (South African Academy Advancement of Science) at the official Graduation luncheon held on Saturday 9th April for the best MSc thesis submitted in 2010/2011 at Rho ...read more
Prof Mike Davies-Coleman and Dr Sunny Sunassee attended the 15th Annual Conference and 1st International Convention of the Indian Society of Pharmacognosy held at KLE University, Belgaum India (18-20 February, 2011). Prof D-C presented a plenary lecture entitled “Marine natural products research in Southern Africa” while Dr Sunassee presented an invited lecture entitled “Quinone marine natural products. Synthesis of new lead compounds for anti-cancer d...read more
Two new HPLC systems dedicated to semi-preparative marine natural products separations were commissioned at the beginning of February, 2011. The state of the art isocratic and gradient HPLC systems, supplied by Waters and sponsored by SASOL and Rhodes University, are fitted with a variety of detectors including refractive index, ultra violet and evaporative light scattering detectors. The arrival of the two new HPLC systems has greatly increased the marine biodiscovery lab’s capacity...read more
Professor Mike Davies-Coleman visited the University of Nairobi and Egerton University in the Kenyan Rift Valley in December 2010 as a member of the African steering committee for the Global Initiative for Bioexploration (GIBEX). Prof D-C presented two research lectures at Egerton University and planted a Kenyan medicinal tree, Prunis africana, with reported anti-cancer properties, in the traditional medicines botanical garden at Egerton University to not only commemo...read more
A team of four from the Chemistry Department at Rhodes University led by postdoctoral fellow Dr. Sunny Sunassee and postgraduates Tope Olomola, Bareki Shima Batlokwa and Nicole D’Souza along with their colleagues from the Bristol University ChemLabs travelled to the Western Cape, as part of the Rhodes University chemistry department’s ongoing commitment to community engagement and for the International Year of Chemistry. ...read more