Principal Investigator

Dr Frans O'Neill
+27 51 401 7553


The primary focus of research within the Clinical Biochemistry Group is sterol metabolism and the purification and heterologous expression of reproductive hormones. The sterol metabolism research focuses on animals in general but particularly on the southern white rhino (Ceratotherium simum simum) and aims to gain a better understanding of sterol metabolism in the animals as well as how it relates to human sterol metabolism. The work forms part of a greater multidisciplinary, collaborative project that takes a holistic approach to better understand the white rhino itself as well as 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 which has various uses in animal reproduction and is widely applied prior to artificial insemination procedures.

Recent News and Highlights

Rhino 1

White rhinos are one of the species whose sterol metabolism are being studied, this photo was taken during a recent excursion to collect samples.

Interesting trivia, the “white” of white rhino stems not from colour, but from “wide” referring to the wide mouth of the grazing white rhino.


Dr Frans O’Neill and Nkhasi Lekena whose poster was awarded the silver medal at the joint conference of the South African Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (SASBMB) and the Federation of African Societies for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (FASBMB) held from 8–11 July 2018 at the NWU in Potchefstroom.


Recent Publications

Sabiu S, Ajani EO and O’Neill FH (2018) Membrane stabilization and andro-spermatogenic potential of standardized fraction of Cyperus esculentus L. Indian J Tradit Know. Vol 17, p. 78-84.

Sabiu S, O’Neill FH and Ashafa AOT (2017) Toxicopathological evaluation of a 28-day repeated dose adminitration of Zea mays L. (Poaceae), Stigma maydis aqueous extract on key metabolic markers of Wistar rats. Trans R Soc S Afr. Vol 72, p. 225-233.

Sabiu S, O’Neill FH and Ashafa AOT (2016) Zea mays, Stigma maydis prevents and extenuates acetaminophen-perturbed oxidative onslaughts in rat hepatocytes. Pharm Biol. Vol 54, p. 2664-2673.

Sabiu S, O’Neill FH and Ashafa AOT (2016) The purview of phytotherapy in the management of kidney disorders: a systematic review on Nigeria and South Africa. Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. Vol. 13, p. 38-47.

Sabiu S, O’Neill FH and Ashafa AOT (2016) Kinetics of a-amylase and a-glucosidase inhibitory potential of Zea mays Linnaeus (Poaceae), Stigma maydis aqueous extract: An in vitro assessment. J Ethnopharmacol. Vol. 183, p. 1-8.


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


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

Home new

We use cookies to make interactions with our websites and services easy and meaningful, to better understand how they are used and to tailor advertising. You can read more and make your cookie choices here. By continuing to use this site you are giving us your consent to do this.