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Infrastructure Development

Laboratory Equipment

The IDM at UCT Faculty of Health Sciences has two Category III laboratories.

These laboratories are shared facilities and the equipment used needs to be in good working order at all times to ensure the safety of the staff and the integrity of the samples being processed.

The following pieces of equipment have been sponsored by CIDRI:

  • Class III Biohazard cabinet
  • Shaking incubator
  • Fast Prep Homogenizer
  • Minus 80°C freezers at IDM
  • Minus 80°C freezer at GF Jooste Hospital
  • Olympus Trinocular Inverted Microscope



Bio-safety cabinet Bio-safety cabinet

The Biosafety Level III laboratory situated in the IDM in the UCT Faculty of Health Sciences was refurbished during the middle of 2010. Two new biosafety cabinets were purchased for this laboratory by the Clinical Infectious Diseases Research Initiative (CIDRI).

These Class II cabinets provide an enclosed, ventilated workspace for safely working with samples potentially contaminated with pathogens. The advantage of these cabinets is the protection of the laboratory scientist as well as the surrounding environment from bacteria and viruses. A fan mounted at the top of the cabinet draws a curtain of sterile air over the samples on the work surface. The air is then drawn under the work surface and through a HEPA filter before being exhausted. The air being drawn in also acts as a barrier to contaminated air coming back at the operator.



Cryo Preservation Tank Cryo Preservation Tank

CIDRI recently purchased an MVE 190 Vapor series liquid nitrogen tank. This will be used for long term storage of frozen cells in liquid nitrogen vapor at an ultra low temperature of -190°C. The tank has the capacity to store 19 500 samples.
The South African Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative (SATVI) has an established Biobank housing thirteen liquid nitrogen tanks. This new tank will be sited in the SATVI Biobank area where the integrity of all stored samples is under continuous monitoring.


The QIAsymphony SP Instrument

The QIAsymphony SP is a fully automated high throughput instrument that uses a magnetic particle-based technology to extract and purify DNA, RNA and His-tagged proteins from a wide range of samples.  This is the first one of its kind on the African continent.


The robot was purchased to facilitate simultaneous extraction of bacterial and viral DNA and RNA from a wide range of samples as part of the Drakenstein Child Lung Health Study.

We are grateful to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and CIDRI for funding the purchase of this instrument, which is housed at the Division of Medical Microbiology, Level 5 of the Falmouth Building.

Source: Dr. Eliya Vukani Madikane



Flow Cytometer Flow Cytometer

Flow cytometry is an indispensable technique in modern immunology as it allows the simultaneous measurement of expression of multiple proteins on a single cell level. Currently more than 30 students, post doctoral fellows, scientists and other staff members in the IDM in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Cape Town are routinely using flow cytometry in their research. The current instruments are used at full capacity.

Therefore there was a need for an additional flow cytometer as an IDM core instrument. The purchase was funded in part by the Clinical Infectious Diseases Research Initiative (CIDRI). The LSR Fortessa is a state-of-the-art flow cytometer utilizing 4 lasers, which allows measurement of up to 17 colours – comparable to the instruments used by the most advanced immunology research groups.

The instrument is housed in the South African Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative (SATVI) in the IDM.

Source: Dr Thomas Scriba - SATVI




The Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine acquired a state-of-the-art CyTOF II mass cytometer, the first on the African continent, in late 2013 with substantial co-funding from CIDRI. Mass cytometry (CyTOF) uniquely combines time-of-flight mass spectrometry, fluidics and metal-labeling technology for comprehensive phenotypic and functional cellular profiling applications. The technology somewhat resembles flow cytometry, but relies on labeling cellular targets with metal-tagged antibodies, which are then detected and quantified by time-of-flight mass spectrometry. High purity metals and choice of metal isotopes ensure minimal background noise from signal overlap or endogenous cellular components. Currently, more than 45 detection channels are being employed on the CyTOF II cytometry in the Institute, allowing unprecedented immunoprofiling depth, to understand biological systems at the single-cell level.​

Source: Dr Thomas Scriba - SATVI