The primary research focus within the Clinical Biochemistry research group is sterol metabolism and the purification and heterologous expression of reproductive hormones. The sterol metabolism research focuses on animals in general, but mainly on the southern white rhino (Ceratotherium simum simum) and aims to better understand sterol metabolism in animals and how it relates to human sterol metabolism. The work forms part of a greater multidisciplinary, collaborative project that takes a holistic approach to understanding the white rhino and its interaction with its environment. The primary sterols investigated are cholesterol, and the plant sterols, sitosterol and campesterol. The hormone work is currently focused on equine chorionic gonadotropin (eCG), a hormone that has various uses in animal reproduction and is widely applied before artificial insemination procedures.

Rhino 1

White rhinos are one of the species whose sterol metabolism is being studied. The photo was taken during an excursion to collect samples.

Interesting trivia – the ‘white’ of white rhino does not stem from the colour but from ‘wide’, referring to the wide mouth of the grazing white rhino.


Principal Investigator

sasbmb frans

Both Nkhasi Lekena (oral) and Martie Boneschans (poster) presented their research at the recently held virtual conference of the South African Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (SASBMB).


Elfrieda van den Berg (Marketing Manager)
T: +27 51 401 2531

Dilahlwane Mohono (Faculty Officer)
T: +27 58 718 5284

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