A-status for Stellenbosch scientist Bert Klumperman

4 February 2008

The National Research Foundation (NRF) has awarded A-ratings to two researchers from the Faculty of Science, polymer scientist Prof Bert Klumperman and ecologist Prof Dave Richardson. This brings the number of world class scientists at Stellenbosch University (SU) to nine.

A-rated scientists are unequivocally accepted by their peers as world leaders in their fields of interest. Individuals are primarily evaluated on the high quality of their research outputs of the past seven years. The evaluation is done by national and international peers and reviewers who are requested to critically scrutinise the completed research. "As a research driven university we are always delighted when honours such as these are bestowed on the exceptional scientific achievements of our researchers," says Prof Piet Steyn, SU acting senior director: research Prof Klumperman is holder of the Research Chair in Advanced Macromolecular Architectures in the Department of Chemistry and Polymer Science. It was one of the first of its kind awarded by the Department of Science and Technology as part of the recently established South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI).

He received his PhD in Polymer Chemistry from the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands. He gained extensive industrial experience, including work as a research associate at DSM Research, Geleen (The Netherlands). Before joining Stellenbosch University (SU) as holder of the SARChI chair, Prof Klumperman was associate professor in Polymer Chemistry at Eindhoven University of Technology (The Netherlands). He was also an extraordinary professor in Polymer Chemistry at the SU Institute for Polymer Science. His research focuses on living radical polymerization, advanced macromolecular architectures, and on kinetic and mechanistic studies in (living) radical polymerization.
Potentially, his work is applicable in a wide variety of fields, ranging from specialty coatings and electronics to engineering plastics and biomedical applications.

His research group is increasingly moving towards biomedical applications of functional polymers, for instance in the field of drug delivery. "Efficient anti-tuberculosis drugs have been developed, but one of the main challenges is to bring the drug exclusively to the TB-infected cells, and release it there," Prof Klumperman explains. Research is being conducted together with pharmacologists to develop polymer systems that will encapsulate the active drug, direct it to the infected cells, and release it after being taken up by these cells. "We are moving towards a situation where polymer systems can be designed and synthesized to meet very specific requirements," Prof Klumperman believes. One of the main challenges in the biomedical field is to understand the interaction between synthetic systems and biological tissue or cells. "Once we increase that knowledge it is probably only our own imagination which will be the limiting factor towards further developments," he says. Prof Klumperman regularly acts as consultant in the area of radical polymerization, and is a referee for a large number of scientific journals and international funding agencies in his field. He is a member of three distinguished Working Parties of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), as well as the COST Working Group on Controlled Polymerization.
Prof Klumperman serves on the editorial advisory board of the European Polymer Journal, and has served on the editorial advisory board of Macromolecules in the past.
Prof. Bert Klumperman is also a DPI project leader

Source: Stellenbosch University

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