Professor Fourie Joubert, Director of the Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Unit at the University of Pretoria, is the first recipient of a Gold Award for achievement in Bioinformatics. The South African Society for Bioinformatics (SASBi) made the Award.
The award exemplifies his outstanding contributions to the field of bioinformatics in SA. He vastly contributed to the advancement of both undergraduate and postgraduate teaching and learning and research activities. This award also gives recognition to his leadership role played.
“I am truly thankful and humbled for the remarkable acknowledgement from the South African bioinformatics community that appreciates my efforts. I am committed to further serve the discipline of bioinformatics in teaching and learning, as well as research,” Prof Joubert said when asked how he felt about this honour. He added that “it was an acknowledgement of almost 30 years of dedication to establish and promote bioinformatics research, as well as services and training in South Africa”.
Prof Joubert explained that his interest in bioinformatics started at a young age. “I was fascinated by computers. After completing my honours in biochemistry, it quickly became apparent that there were many remarkable computer applications in biological sciences. I started experimenting with computers to apply the core knowledge I learned in biological research during my master’s degree in 1992. My PhD project in 1995 addressed computer modelling of the binding of inhibitors to malaria proteins, followed by testing these in the laboratory.”
He established the Bioinformatics and Computational Biology facility at UP in 2003 to enhance and coordinate bioinformatics-related activities and led the facility from 2003 to 2014. After considering the impact of the facility’s involvement on undergraduate and postgraduate teaching and learning, as well as research, Prof Joubert upgraded the facility to the Centre for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology in 2014. Prof Joubert also provides extensive bioinformatics and high-performance computing support to staff and students and still arranges regular short courses.
Computer-related bioinformatics support and services led to his involvement in a range of research projects other than his own focus on breast cancer genomics. As the discipline of bioinformatics is a highly interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary collaborative field involving high throughput data analyses of biological samples, there is an excessive demand of requests for bioinformatics support and collaboration, especially in the field of genomics.
Prof Joubert has authored/co-authored 56 research papers in internationally accredited peer-reviewed journals. The highest impact factor (IF) includes his co-authorship in Nature (IF: 41.577).