About Us

The need for a Society for biochemists from all over South Africa, was recognised in the late 1960’s. This need found its first clear expression when a large number of biochemists met in Pretoria, together with chemists and medical scientists, for a Symposium on the Chemistry and Biology of Macromolecules during April 1970. At this meeting the delegates expressed almost unanimous support for the formation of a Biochemical Society in South Africa. Further strong impetus for the movement was provided by the recognition of the need of South African biochemists to also share in the benefits of International Union of Biochemistry membership. A prerequisite for IUB (currently the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology) membership was the proven existence of an independent internationally recognised scientific body within South Africa, which would be representative of the South African biochemical community.

An important initiative came from the President of the CSIR, who appointed a Provisional South African National Committee for the IUB.

The appointed members were:
Dr H. M. Schwartz, Division of Biochemistry, National Chemical Research Laboratory, CSIR, Pretoria
Prof G.V. Quicke, Department of Biochemistry, University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg
Prof D.J.J. Potgieter, Department of Biochemistry, University of Pretoria
Prof W. Gevers, MRC Unit for Molecular and Cellular Cardiology, University of Stellenbosch
Prof J.B. Balinski, Department of Biochemistry, University of the Witwatersrand
Prof C. von Holt, Department of Biochemistry, University of Cape Town;
Prof W. Oelofsen, Deptartment of Biochemistry, University of Port Elizabeth.

The Provisional Committee met in Pretoria on 7 June 1973 and Dr P.le R. Malherbe of the Science Co-operation Division of the CSIR acted as Chairperson. At this meeting it was agreed that formation of a formally constituted Biochemical Society was necessary if South African biochemists were to reap the benefits of IUB membership. Subsequently the Provisional Committee became the Organising Committee for the formation of a South African Biochemical Society, and on 11 July, 1973, it sent out letters and a questionnaire to approximately 240 biochemists countrywide, requesting feedback on their particulars and on their views regarding formation of a Society. The letter furthermore announced a Foundation Meeting scheduled for the 4th October 1973 in Pretoria.
On the evening of Tuesday 2nd October 1973, the Organising Committee met to discuss a draft Constitution, drawn up and circulated beforehand to all Committee members by Profs W. Gevers and J.B. Balinsky. The meeting was also attended (in advisory capacity) by Prof P.N. Campbell from the U.K., (British Representative on the IUB Council). On Thursday October 4th 1973 at 18:00 more than 75 biochemists from all over South Africa, gathered in the Medical Sciences Building of the University of Pretoria. Prof. George V. Quicke was in the chair and Dr Helen Schwartz kept the minutes. Prof Campbell attended as an observer. After some discussion, the vote for the formation of a South African Biochemical Society was unanimously in favour.
So the South African Biochemical Society was born, 33 years after Biochemistry was first introduced to South Africa as a formal subject, in January 1940. The meeting appointed Prof Quicke to act as Interim Chairman of the Society with a mandate to solicit members for the Society, to send out accounts for membership dues, and to request nominations and organise an election for the first National Committee. After the meeting was closed a total of 68 application forms for Founder Membership of the SABS, were handed in. The first Council to be elected was:
Prof W. Gevers, University of Stellenbosch (Chairman)
Prof J.B. Balinsky, University of Witwatersrand (Vice-Chairman)
Dr R.H. Stead, University of Cape Town (Secretary)
Dr I.E. Dreosti, University of Natal, PMB (Treasurer)
Dr C.F. Albrecht, National Chemical Research Laboratory, CSIR
Dr D. Balinsky, South African Institute for Medical Research
Prof A. 0. Hawtrey, University of Rhodesia
Prof W. Oelofsen, University of Port Elizabeth
Prof D.J.J. Potgieter, University of Pretoria
Prof G.V. Quicke. University of Natal, PMB
Dr H.M. Schwartz, National Chemical Research Laboratory, CSIR
Prof C. von Holt, University of Cape Town.

On 4th April 1995 the General Meeting of the SABS unanimously voted to change the name of the Society to the South African Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (SASBMB).

Today, the aims of the SASBMB are:

  • To promote Biochemistry and Molecular Biology as discipline in South Africa.
  • To promote scientific exchange between academics and students of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in South Africa
  • To promote the interests of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology as disciplines at national and international levels by interaction with the South African Council for Natural Science Professionals, Government Departments and the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

 

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