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26 October 2018, Cape Town, South Africa

The Centre for Proteomic & Genomic Research (CPGR) today announced the results of its Core Lab Competition, launched in August 2018, with Whitehead Scientific and Illumina.

The program allowed researchers to compete for USD 10,000 in prize money, sponsored by Illumina in the form of reagents and consumables. Applications were open from the end of September to the middle of October.

The results reveal a strong and diverse interest in Genomics applications among the South African scientific community:

  • Over a period of 3 weeks, from 30 September to 15 October, a total of twenty-nine (29) applications had been received.
  • By province (Fig 1A), most applications (13) were received from the Western Cape, followed closely by Gauteng (11). Four (4) and one (1) project originated from the North-West and KZN provinces, respectively.
  • By city or metro (Fig 1B), most applications were from Cape Town (9), followed closely by Pretoria (7). Stellenbosch, Johannesburg, and Potchefstroom shared 3rd place, each generating 4 applications. One (1) application originated from Durban.
  • By University or organisation (Fig 1C), University of Cape Town and Stellenbosch University had a joint lead with five (5) applications each. University of Pretoria and University of the Western Cape followed closely, with four (4) and three (3) applications, respectively. WITS University and North-West University produced two (2) applications each, followed by eight (8) other Universities or organisations, each with one (1) application.
  • By area of research (Fig 1D), population genetics and microbiology/virology research interests dominated the field, with six (6) and five (5) applications, respectively. The remainder of applications fell into a diversity of research areas (Fig 1D).
  • By technology type (Fig 1E), targeted DNA sequencing was the most popular application sought, with nine (9) submissions in total. This was followed by whole genome sequencing (microbiome related), with six (6) applications; and 16S/18S rRNA sequencing and DNA genotyping, each with four (4) applications. The remainder of applications fell into a diversity of other categories (Fig 1E).
  • By organism / sample source (Fig 1F), most applications were planning to make use of human tissue derived samples (13). The remainder of applications fell into a diversity of other sample source / organism categories (Fig 1F).
  • By sample number (Fig 1G), one (1) project fell into a 500-1000 bracket. Eight (8) projects had sample numbers in a 100-250 bracket, seven (7) projects each fell into a 50-100 and 10-50 bracket, while six (6) were planning to use less than 10 samples (Fig 1G).

Figure 1: Core Lab Competition Results

Following a thorough assessment, considering the above highlighted criteria, the following projects were selected:

  • First place: Brandon Reyneke, Department of Microbiology, Stellenbosch University, with a project aimed at monitoring rainwater through metagenomic analysis, using Next Generation Sequencing.
  • Second place: Mohaimin Kasu, Department of Biotechnology, University of the Western Cape, with a project aimed at improvingĀ Y-chromosome male specific DNA profiling using Next Generation Sequencing.
  • Third place: Carina Mels, North-West University, with a project aimed at using RNA-Sequencing to identify early markers of cardiovascular disease.

The first-place project will receive the USD 10,000 price and an opportunity to work with the CPGR at no cost.

The second and third placed projects will be offered up to a 25% and 15% discount respectively, off the total project budget, pending a detailed project design and planning session.

In addition, the CPGR will engage all participants in the competition with an aim to offer discounted rates, on a case-by-case basis, following detailed project discussions, and on the premise that projects will register with the CPGR before end of March 2019.

For queries, contact Linda de Waal (linda.dewaal@cpgr.org.za).