To meet its mandate of improving the quality of life of South Africans, the CSIR relies on its most important asset, its people. The CSIR’s multidisciplinary nature positions the organisation to help solve the increasingly complex problems of our time. This multidisciplinary science, engineering and technology base is made up of individuals who are highly specialised in their respective fields. They are geneticists, virologists, software developers, polymer chemists, applied mathematicians and industrial engineers, just to name a few.
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Mthunzi-Kufa leads the CSIR’s biophotonics research. Lasers of different regimes are used to optically micro-manipulate embryonic stem cells for tissue engineering investigations, neuroblastoma cells for neurodegenerative studies, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) infected cells for targeted antiretroviral drug delivery in latent viral sites and to answer basic questions in HIV-1 pathogenesis, as well as cancerous cells to study intricate bioprocesses at single cell level.
Ombinda-Lemboumba’s research focuses on developing optical technologies to image and manipulate biological samples. These technologies include building a laser beam optical trapping/sorting system which will allow noise-free single-cell analysis via Raman Spectroscopy to interrogate the molecular content of different cytoplasmic regions of live HIV-1 infected cells to provide new data on HIV-1 pathogenesis for applications in point-of-care diagnostics.