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Biomedical Research and Innovation Platform

Biomedical Research and Innovation Platform

The Biomedical Research and Innovation Platform (BRIP) was established in April 2006 by the South African Medical Research Council, as a spin-off from the former Diabetes Research Group of the Medical Research Council.

The BRIP has more than 20 years of experience in the field of histology, image analysis, immunocytochemistry, molecular biology and tissue/cell culture systems.


Key Focus Areas

  • The Group’s longstanding innovative research on early changes leading to Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) has resulted in the discovery and characterisation of previously unreported pathological changes related to the very early stages of development of the disease, prior to raised blood sugar levels.  The Group is currently investigating their potential as very early markers of people at risk of developing T2D.  These markers will be able to identify the risk of developing T2D at a much earlier stage than any other marker available to date, allowing significantly earlier intervention and treatment and, hopefully, prevent the secondary effects of T2D which affects both the quality of life and leads to the early death of people.
  • The Group has also established and characterised several animal models for further research, including an insulin resistant rat model for typical symptoms of early-stage type-2 diabetes, a streptozotocin model typical of type-1 diabetes and a triglyceride model representing the ‘metabolic syndrome’ (Syndrome X) patient who is at risk of developing type-2 diabetes. These models enable in depth research of type-2 diabetes and type-1 diabetes.  Particularly how the disease develops, what external factors induce and/or promote the disease and the process by which this occurs.
  • Many plants of Southern African or African origin have been claimed to have anti-diabetic properties. The group’s investigations have already been successful in identifying two plants for their efficacy in treating aspects of the broader metabolic syndrome.


Professor Johan Louw is a biomedical scientist who serves as the Senior Platform Director at the Centre and Platforms Office. He started the capacity development programme 20 years ago. The programme offers a short exchange of 3, 6 or 12 months. At the end of 2022 it graduated 118 post graduate students.

Pretoria, South Africa | The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) would like to congratulate Prof Rabia Johnson, a Chief Specialist Scientist and Deputy Director at the SAMRC for scooping the 2023 Forbes Woman Africa Academic Excellence Award. The award was presented to her based on her research work conducted within the last 20 years.

View the complete Press Release


The SAMRC’s Biomedical Research and Innovation Platform (BRIP) and the Non-Communicable Research Unit (NCDRU) successfully hosted another World Diabetes Day Awareness Campaign at Jack Muller Park on the 20th of November. Walkers and runners alike completed either a 3 or 5 km route around the park to promote physical activity. Lifestyle modifications, such as increasing physical activity and eating healthy, nutritious foods are an essential part of managing or even preventing diabetes and other metabolic diseases. Supported by Corporate and Marketing Communications Division, the theme for the year, access to diabetes care, was promoted and information around diabetes risk factors and management was shared.   View the SAMRC World Diabetes Day Brochure

World Diabetes Day - Fun Run

The theme for 2022 is “Access to Diabetes Care for All” and under the initiative of “Education to Protect Tomorrow”, SAMRC staff and students went out to the Parow Senior Centre sharing important information on Diabetes care and preventive measures.

World Diabetes Day 2022

The 55th SEMDSA Congress was held this past weekend, 8-11 September 2022 and a few of our colleagues and students had the pleasure and opportunity of attending and presenting their work and studies.

We Acknowledge and Congratulate two of our colleagues who received Awards for the work they do; and because of them, BRIP received 5 awards!

Huge Congratulations to YOU BOTH.

@Tarryn Willmer  SAMRC

  • Travel Award
  • Endocrine Publication Award (Basic Sciences)
  • Best Poster award (Basic Sciences)

@Julia Goedecke  SAMRC

  • Diabetes Publication Award (Clinical)
  • Diabetes Publication Award (Basic Sciences)  - Award to Amy Mendham (Julia’s postdoc)


The South African Medical Research Council participates in the Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases, a collaboration of major international research funding agencies that support joint funding calls and research capacity building activities to address chronic, non-communicable diseases. The alliance focuses on implementation research in low- and middle- income countries (LMICs) and in vulnerable and indigenous populations in high-income countries (HICs).

The GACD have announced the launch of the Implementation Science e-Hub. The e-Hub is a free, virtual platform for knowledge and skill development in implementation research. It is intended for researchers, students, policymakers and practitioners at any stage in their career, from anywhere in the world, interested in improving their knowledge of implementation research, especially its application for the prevention and management of non-communicable diseases in low-resource settings.

For further information, visit




World Diabetes Day - 14 November 2021
World Diabetes Day - 14 November 2021

“Heritage is generally defined as an acknowledgment of historical artifacts, practices, and sites that should be preserved for the benefit of future generations.”

BRIP celebrated the rich and diverse tapestry that makes up the team with our infamous “braai under the tree”.  A time of sharing food, stories and everything that makes us PROUDLY South African. We are stronger together and are fortunate to stand on the shoulders of giants.

Spring & Heritage Day Celebrations

On Sunday the 28th August, Dr Kwazi Gabuza, senior Scientist at the Biomedical Research Innovation Platform, took part and completed his second Comrades marathon.

The Comrades Marathon is an ultramarathon of approximately 89 km, which is run annually in the KwaZulu-Natal province and is said to be the world's largest and oldest ultramarathon race. The race takes place between the cities of Durban and Pietermaritzburg, with the direction of the race alternating each year between the "up" run (87 km) starting from Durban and the "down" run (now 90.184 km) starting from Pietermaritzburg. The race had been postponed in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID pandemic.

Completed the race for the 3rd time in a race-time of 10:52:59, Dr Gabuza said "It was uncertain that the Comrades would take place this year, following the two year break and the restrictions that were only scraped early this year. Only in March was everyone made aware that it will be happening in 2022.

My training then started with the hope to be fully fit by 28 August. The two-year break definitely took its toll on the runners. It was a very challenging Comrades marathon, much harder than my previous attempts in 2017 and 2019.”

Well done Kwazi and congratulations on finishing yet another Comrades marathon. Here’s to many more to come


Contact Details

Co-Deputy Director
  • +27 21 938 0866
Co-Deputy Director
  • +27 21 938 0292