Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Mastering Science


I recently posted about my friend winning a poster competition at a conference in Cape Town. This article was recently published in our campus newsletter.

"UKZN genetics MSc student, Miss Letrisha Padayachee won first prize at the recent South African Society for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Conference.
MSc genetics student Letrisha Padayachee was a prize winner at the South African Genetics and Bioinformatics Society Conference at the University of Stellenbosch. 
The Conference themed: The Data-Mining Revolution, gave experimental, computational and mathematical biologists a chance to share ideas and data, foster collaborations and participate in joint workshops.
Padayachee’s poster won her first prize in the MSc category. Her supervisor, Dr Ché Pillay of the School of Life Sciences, commented:  ‘Letrisha is a fabulous student and a deserving recipient of this honour.’
Padayachee’s research was based on the thioredoxin system which consists of thioredoxin, thioredoxin reductase and NADPH, and plays a significant role in a huge number of redox-dependent processes including DNA synthesis, sulfur metabolism and anti-oxidant defence.
‘Elevated levels of this system have been associated with a number of diseases including cancer, HIV and malaria and understanding the regulation of this network from a systems biology perspective is therefore essential.  However, the conflicting descriptions of thioredoxin activity have stifled the adoption of such approaches within the field.
‘Our lab recently proposed an approach to resolve these conflicting descriptions and simultaneously showed how this system should be modelled in systems biology applications,’ said Letrisha. ‘This work resulted in the development of the first computational models of the thioredoxin system in Jurkat T-cells and Escherichia coli,’ said Padayachee.
‘While these models successfully described the network properties of the thioredoxin system in these organisms, further confirmatory studies are required before this modelling approach is generally accepted especially as this approach has overturned many long-standing beliefs about these systems.
‘I am using computational and molecular methods to confirm our proposed mechanism for modelling thioredoxin activity. My poster described the cloning, expression, purification and assay of the thioredoxin system from Saccharomyces cerevisiae in conjunction with the development of the first mathematical model of this system. These results provide a basis for the analysis of this network in a number of pathologies.’
She said attending the Conference helped her grow as a researcher as she was exposed to new ideas from other interesting areas of Bioinformatics.
‘However, the most memorable part was the actual trip to Cape Town. It was my first trip to the beautiful city and I found the vibe amazing,’ she said.
Padayachee thanked the College for generously providing the bursary which allowed her to study further."

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