Your next DNA vaccine might come from tobacco


We don’t have much practice at this sort of thing, but seeing as we just got something REALLY cool published, and the man who largely made it possible is now a science writer, we decided to ask him to write a press release.  So he did.  Thanks, Paul Kennedy – take a bow, twice!

“In a pioneering step towards using plants to produce vaccines against cervical cancer and other viruses, University of Cape Town (UCT) researchers have generated synthetic human papillomavirus- derived viral particles called pseudovirions in tobacco plants.

“We’ve succeeded in making a completely mammalian viral particle in a plant – proteins, DNA, everything. That’s enormously exciting,” says Dr Inga Hitzeroth of the Biopharming Research Unit (BRU) at UCT.Dr_Inga_Hitzeroth

In an Open Access study just published in Nature Scientific Reports, BRU researchers report using tobacco plants to create a synthetic viral particle known as a pseudovirion.

A pseudovirion looks…

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Why Africa can’t afford to have an outbreak of the Zika virus

Well said


With limited laboratory capacity and a lack of experts and funding, an outbreak of the Zika virus in Africa could be problematic.

Sourced through from:

Yeah…sure. It could be Bad.

BUT: as South African epidemiologists have pointed out, it’ll only be a problem IF the mosquito that transmits it elsewhere, comes here – because our local A aegypti doesn’t have the same behaviour, and will vastly outnumber and possibly outcompete any import variety.

And it’s endemic in tropical Africa – meaning many people are immune already.

So scaremongering about Zika in Africa is possibly a little irresponsible – unless it’s being used as a stalking horse for an agenda for setting up continent-wide arbovirus surveillance, or spurring on efforts to set up an African CDC. Which I would heartily endorse.

The stuff about lack of reagents is spot-on: which is why we have a proposal in the works…

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A community for those who like to be alone, grown out of a blockbuster TED Talk

TED Blog

Melissa Ng makes 3D printed masks. She found inspiration on how to run a company, despite her quiet nature, from Susan Cain's TED Talk and new website. Photo: Courtesy of Melissa Ng Melissa Ng makes 3D-printed masks. She found inspiration on how to run a company, despite her quiet nature, from Susan Cain’s TED Talk and new website, Quiet Revolution. Photo: Courtesy of Melissa Ng

Scott Drummond had been in the Air Force for eight years. It was 1994, and he was eligible to become a commissioned officer, the Air Force’s version of a manager. The average person gets the job after three interviews. Drummond interviewed 16 times over the next ten years before he got the job.

Looking back at his career, Drummond — now a director of inspections with the Indiana Air National Guard — can see that he lagged about ten years behind his peers as he rose through the ranks. At the time, he couldn’t figure out why. But today, at age 47, he attributes the gap to “starting slow and finishing strong,” thanks to his introverted nature…

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Virology Africa 2015: Update and Registration




On behalf of the Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine of the University of Cape Town and the Poliomyelitis Research Foundation, we are pleased to invite you to Virology Africa 2015 at the Cape Town Waterfront.


The conference will run from Tuesday 1st – Thursday 3rd December 2015. The conference venue is the Radisson Blu Hotel with a magnificent view of the ocean. The hotel school next door will host the cocktail party on the Monday night 30th November and in keeping with Virology Africa tradition, the dinner venue is the Two Oceans Aquarium.


Early Bird Registration closes – 30 September 2015
Abstract Submissions deadline – 30 September 2015

The ACADEMIC PROGRAMME will include plenary-type presentations from internationally recognised speakers. We wish to emphasise that this is intended as a general virology conference – which means…

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Every Ngwee Counts

Great Piece



“Money Isn’t Everything, but its right up there with oxygen”- Zig Ziglar

Hello August!

August is always a welcome month for me because the days finally get warmer and it means summer is around the corner. However, it also means temptation, as this month is rife with chances to overspend.

The month starts with a four-day holiday due to the Lusaka Agricultural and Commercial show and there are festivals and many more events. Attending events is important as an afrosocialite, but here are a few ways I’m saving money this month.

  • Downloaded Money Saver App
  • saving app2
  • saving app

After reading up on a few free apps online, I chose Spending Tracker that I downloaded from the PlayStore on my phone. It’s a pretty simple app that is broken into areas like Spending, Transactions, Categories and Accounts. Under Spending is Income – Expenses = Balance so you can fill out the amounts like I…

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Gone, but not quite forgotten: the Rybicki teaching pages


I have extolled the virtues of the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine previously, as a magic means of finding material that you probably thought (and sometimes wished) was long lost: in that instance it was my old Ebola news pages.

I now find a new reason to commend its virtues to the skies: I once wrote, on The Guru Cann’s site,

“So how does one even approach the problem of constructing a history of any particular corpus of web-published material?”

The Wayback Machine, it appears is an answer.  Not THE answer, because there are still holes in its coverage, but here is an example of how many iterations there are of archives of my Web-based PCR Methods teaching pages:


Right back to 2004!  The teaching material goes back to 1997, along with my primitive efforts at a Departmental Web page – like the old Department of Microbiology, all…

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When Christian Men hold ‘Bachelor/Kitchen Party’ style events… | #BeAwesome!

This week introduced me to two very enriching experiences. I attended two differently planned but similar bachelor events for two friends who are about to tie the knot.

Now before I go on, let me put this as a disclaimer: I’m  seriously struggling to find a term that encompasses these types of events without being misunderstood to implying somethings else. Pardon my failure to adequately express myself in the Queen’s language. It’s embarrassing considering that I actually teach this stuff. The best i can do for now is to describe them briefly.

The first one, on Sunday, was a bar-b-que event, where invited guests were asked to bring a financial contribution (like it’s dome at Kitchen parties these days). There were some guests speakers who made presentations on specific topics, in a very interactive and fun way.  The food was awesome!

The second one, on Thursday, was a less formal…

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