Rhodes University Biotechnology Innovation Centre



Welcome to the Rhodes University Biotechnology Innovation Centre (RUBIC)


Established in 2014, the Rhodes University Biotechnology Innovation Centre is the brand new academic home of the discipline of Biotechnology, providing a trans-disciplinary research and learning environment in the field. Core discipline staff are supported by Research and Professional Associates representing academia, industry and the private sector. In addition to teaching and research, the Biotechnology Innovation Centre is engaged in biotechnology innovation and the public engagement and communication of the field.

Biotechnology Innovation Centre 2014

Vision and Mission

The vision of the BIC is to create an enabling environment for the translation of Biotechnology related research into products or processes with socio-economic value (Innovate) and to serve as the academic home for the discipline of Biotechnology through targeted programmes in postgraduate and undergraduate teaching and research (Educate) and in science communication (Communicate). 

Degree programmes in Biotechnology are offered at the Honours, Masters and PhD levels


Biotechnology is an applied field of study, the outcome of the integration of the disciplines of biology, chemistry and engineering. Its applications within human and environmental health combined with the development and improvement of new products and processes holds direct benefits for socioeconomic development. The emergence of biotechnology as a key global player in innovation and technology transfer means that this field also incorporates the social sciences, business, economic and legal fields.

Responding to the challenges of a trans-disciplinary field, Rhodes University took a strategic decision in 2013 to situate the discipline of Biotechnology in this new academic home in the form of the Rhodes University Biotechnology Innovation Centre. While staying  true to the core principles of excellence in research and teaching, the new academic home is better enabled to respond to the needs of a diversified field, of its graduates and the country through innovation, technology transfer and public engagement. In the longer term, RUBIC  may yet be a catalyst for employment opportunity, and economic prosperity.


Rhodes University is home to the oldest biotechnology academic programme in South Africa. Launched twenty three years ago, it was later formally established as a separate discipline within the Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Biotechnology (BMB department). Biotechnology research in this department spanned areas of Bioenergy and Biomedical Biotechnology.

Eleven years ago, the establishment of the Environmental Biotechnology Research Unit (now Institute for Environmental Biotechnology) paved the way for novel bioprocesses in industrial and environmental biotechnology, contributing in areas of waste treatment, and the recycle and beneficiation of waste materials. Some 25 novel environmental bioprocess patents were registered during this period.

In 2009, the Rhodes University School of Biotechnology was formed to consolidate the wealth of Biotechnology research in the Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Biotechnology, at EBRU and local industry.  Led by a steering committee spanning industry and academia, the establishment of a new academic home for Biotechnology is a key outcome of the School.

Goals of the RUBIC

  • Train postgraduates at the Honours, Masters and PhD levels in a trans-disciplinary research, environment, better-skilled to unlock their potential as Biotechnologists
  • Create an enabling environment for technology transfer to emerge from higher education by situating Innovation and Entrepreneurship into the research and teaching programmes
  • Support a culture of entrepreneurship amongst academics and students through education programmes
  • Through training in biotechnology communication and public engagement, to enhance both public understanding of the field and to engage communities as participants in innovation and technology transfer
  • Creation of a post-graduate innovation space at Rhodes University to support technology transfer
BioSENS Research Group

Leader of the BioSENs Biotechnology Research Group (Sensors, Energy and Nanomaterials Research Group)


Malaria and Trypanosomal parasites

Dr Aileen Boshoff’s research focuses on studying fundamental aspects of molecular chaperones of parasitic origin with the aim of understanding the differences between parasitic and human systems. 


Stem Cell Biotechnology

Dr Earl Prinsloo's research focuses on the basic and applied sides of stem cell biology. Interests include the role of mitochondria in stem cell biology and the directed differentiation of stem cells into defined cell types.

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