Priorities and Impact

Central to START’s success is a dynamic programme of research and a team that drives forward future projects.  Important priorities are research activity, knowledge base and skills training, access to infrastructure, and promoting diversity, equity, and inclusiveness.  

Areas of impact include consolidating and building local and international networks, providing access to infrastructure that is world class and fit for purpose, and nurturing new knowledge communities between existing scientists and those at the beginning of their careers, with a view to developing African scientific leadership.   

“START has provided me with opportunities and resources that I would never have believed were possible to access from the African continent. Now I am hands-on, a biochemist being chaperoned into the world of X-rays, electrons, neutrons, quantum mechanics and graphics processing units!”

— Dr Stanley Makumire, University of Cape Town, South Africa  

Andani Mulelu and Jeremy D Woodward in front of the cryo-electron microscope (cryo-EM) at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. Photo Credit Rebekka Stredwick. © Diamond Light Source

Key among START’s objectives is to expand the Health & Bio Sciences community and reach out to South Africa’s historically disadvantaged research institutions and to researchers from the rest of Africa.  

The new grant will provide funding for: 

  • Researchers in the field of Health and Bio Sciences 
  • Workshops/conferences 
  • Restoring and equipping laboratories 
  • Local and international research visits 
  • Maintaining laboratory equipment 
  • Transport of samples between laboratories 

Specific outcomes include:  

  • Exposing young scientists to advanced international facilities 
  • Restoring protein preparation facilities, crystallization facilities, the diffractometer and cryo-EM 
  • Visits to Instruct Centres by early career scientists
  • Building a grant proposal for a modern cryo-EM 
  • Establishing a broader African network of Biophysicists and Structural Biologists 

“In Structural Biology, there have been valuable exchanges and collaborations especially XChem Fragment screening laying the foundations for drug discovery work. START is the beginning of embedding a Structural Biology research culture in South Africa and other groups around the world. We look forward to what the future holds.”

Dr Gwyndaf Evans, START Life Sciences Principal Investigator and Principal Beamline Scientist (VMXm) and Research Fellow at Diamond Light Source, UK