DST Fellowship for master

Posted on November 20, 2012

She is one of only six master’s students who received this fellowship, which is awarded to students currently involved in full-time study or research. These awards recognise outstanding ability and potential in research and aim to enhance the research experience and output of women, as well as encourage more young women to complete research degrees.

Sindisiwe’s field of study is biotechnology with specialisation in biochemistry. She is conducting research in the area of HIV/Aids, mainly on HIV-1 subtype C, because it is the dominant subtype in South Africa and accounts for most of the global HIV-1 epidemic. Her project entails investigating host and virus-derived synthetic peptides to ascertain their potential as therapeutic tools.

The HIV research group has a unique approach to HIV/Aids research and education, involving multidisciplinary collaborations and the use of a combination of biochemistry, analytical chemistry and physics to get more reproducible data.

Preliminary data produced by Sindisiwe suggests an association between disease progression and the presence of antibodies elicited to the aforementioned synthetic peptides, early in infection. Her work has also shown that the peptides are not toxic to cells.

Although it is still early, she has already made progress towards achieving the objectives of her study. It is possible that data from this project may necessitate that we consider re-evaluating and expanding current HIV diagnostic and prognostic technology in favour of methodologies that provide more information on disease status.

Following completion of an MSc, Sindisiwe wishes to pursue a doctorate in biotechnology and aspires to be one of the top female scientists in this country.

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