Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the SASBMB council has taken the decision to further postpone the upcoming congress to 23-26 January 2022. The reasoning behind the decision is that postponement to July 2021 would have required a virtual format for the congress. Council felt that a virtual event would have limited opportunities for critical informal contacts or conversations to foster collaborations or for postgraduate students to approach prospective supervisors. With the recent announcements of highly effective vaccines and scheduling the congress in the middle of summer 2021/2022, at least a partial resumption of the traditional face to face meeting will hopefully be possible. Nominations for the SASBMB Gold and Silver medal awards still stand. By contrast, all student travel bursaries will be re-advertised in 2021 as some applicants will have moved on in the intervening period. Payments for the original 2020 congress will be carried over to the 2022 congress fees or will be refunded.
SASBMB hosts a biennial national congress featuring lectures, seminars and poster presentations from students, junior researchers and established scientists.
The last SASBMB congress was held between the 8th and 11th July 2018, North-West University hosted the 26th biennial SASBMB conference held in conjunction with FASBMB. It was hosted on the Potchefstroom campus of NWU and was attended by 401 delegates. In total 17 South African higher education institutions were represented and delegates from 6 countries attended.
The broad scope of the themes and topics of the programme was aimed at covering the main topics of research done in South Africa/Africa. The programme was divided into four main themes:
Structural, Cellular, & Molecular biology
Therapeutics and Biotechnology
In total 13 plenary talks were given, including a presentation by the Gold Medal winner, Prof Trevor Sewell. Delegates were spoiled with choice as 99 research talks were given across 3 parallel sessions over the three days. Most encouraging was the number of postgraduate students presenting their research indicative of an active Biochemistry and Molecular Biology community in South Africa.
The conference provided an enjoyable opportunity for scientific exchange between academics, students, scientists, and industry. The general collegial atmosphere and opportunities of exchange during the conference program where visible during lively Q&As after presentations, open air lunches, lively poster and tea/coffee sessions and social functions.