SU physiology professor receives national award

Prof Kathy Myburgh (middle) with two postgraduate students in physiological sciences, Rudo Mapanga and Bali Sishi, who came fourth and second in the Wyndham student competition at the PSSA conference. Photo: Engela Duvenage

Prof Kathy Myburgh has received the Lasec Award for Excellence in Physiology Research from the Physiological Society of Southern Africa (PSSA).

It was awarded to her at the recent PSSA conference, which was hosted by the University of the Western Cape.

The award honours well-established physiologists who have proven their research excellence over a period of time, who are recognised internationally and who have made a contribution to the research endeavours of PSSA.

Prof Myburgh says she was influenced to follow the scientific discipline of human exercise physiology after she represented South Africa internationally as an artistic gymnast for seven years in the late 1970s.

As Director of the Skeletal Muscle Biology Research Group in the Department of Physiological Sciences, Prof Myburgh and her postgraduate students study the basic mechanisms of muscle rejuvenation and muscle stem cell-like satellite cells.

This is done to understand how muscles work, and how, through relevant therapies, injured muscles can be healed.

“Successfully setting up world class laboratories in a setting where no human biology research was done before, and then establishing a research culture in my group that attracts not only top South African postgraduate students but also excellent international postdoctoral fellows, definitely count as two of my career highlights,” this Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine says.

Prof Myburgh, who served as PSSA president for six years, serves on three editorial boards of international scientific journals, and is a former chair of the SU Department of Physiological Sciences.

She is still the only woman in the Faculty of Science at Stellenbosch University to have obtained a B rating from the National Research Foundation (NRF). This means that as a researcher in the field of physiological sciences, she enjoys considerable international recognition by her peers for the high quality and impact of her recent research outputs.

  • Also at the PSSA conference, two students from the Department of Physiological Sciences, Bali Sishi and Rudo Mapanga, received honourable mentions in the Wyndham student competition.