Posted on April 18, 2011
He was the Director of the prestigious MRC Human Reproductive Sciences Unit at the University of Edinburgh, UK for the past twelve years during which he secured over R900 million in research funding and over one million rand for a biotech company.
Professor Millar has published 380 articles and 20 patents, he has an H-index of 54. His research spans an eclectic spectrum including comparative reproductive biology and physiology, modular biology of receptor function, drug development and "first in man” clinical research.
Of special relevance to the MRI is the Institute for Breeding Rare and Endangered African Mammals which was established by Prof Millar during his tenure at Edinburgh. He grew up in Zimbabwe where he developed a passion for African wildlife and studied Zoology, Botany and Chemistry at the University of the former Rhodesia and Nyasaland. He then obtained a master’s degree in Biochemistry in London and a PhD on the reproductive biology of the hyrax in Liverpool before moving into human biomedical research at the University of Cape Town where he became Professor ad hominem.
Prof Millar sees his his appointment to the MRI as “an exciting opportunity to coalesce and integrate diverse endeavours directed at conservation and biodiversity in the University of Pretoria, other universities in the sub-region and internationally”.
The charismatic mammals of South Africa are a national heritage and a major economic and employment engine. Prof Millar plans to use the MRI as “a springboard from which to establish a Centre of Excellence (CoE) in African Mammal Research (CAMRE)” funded by the Department of Science and Technology /National Research Foundation (NRF). The vision is that the CoE would attract all the major players in conservation and biodiversity research as consortium members who would retain their autonomy while adding value accelerating their research through integration and synergy of efforts and also benefitting from core facilities and expertise.
Amongst others the CoE would incorporate the MRI, the research component of the National Zoological Gardens (NZG), now an NRF facility, and researchers from the Faculty of Veterinary Science, as well as other national and international players.
At the end of November 2010 Prof Millar organised a workshop to discuss the proposed CoE with about 20 participants, including representatives from the NZG and the veterinary faculty. Research carried out at the CoE would provide strong interdisciplinary science juxtaposing diverse expertise aimed at conserving the diversity of the unique and charismatic mammal fauna of southern Africa, in the face of growing pressures at the human-wildlife interface.
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