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13 May 2019 | Story Zama Feni | Photo Charl Devenish
Dr Quinton Meyer and Marlena Visagie
National Control Laboratory Deputy Director, Dr Quinton Meyer (right), and Marlena Visagie, Quality Assurance Manager, at the laboratory within their facilities at the University of the Free State.

The University of the Free State-based National Control Laboratory for Biological Products (NCL) has maintained its esteemed status as a pharmaceutical testing laboratory after the South African Accreditation System (SANAS) further endorsed its quality-management systems as of high standard according to the International Standards Organisation’s requirements.

The Director of the NCL, Professor Derek Litthauer, said their laboratory – which is also approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) – has again achieved the international testing standards. The cherry on top was that the NCL also received a certificate of Good Manufacturing Compliance (GMP) from the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA). 

NCL is for Africa and the World 

Some of the factors that make the NCL an esteemed institution, is the fact that it is one of 12 laboratories worldwide to perform vaccine testing for the WHO; the NCL is the only vaccine-testing laboratory in the country that performs the final quality-control testing of all human vaccine batches marketed in South Africa on behalf of SAHPRA. 

For example, Prof Litthauer said that the influenza vaccine batches currently available on the South African market, were tested by the NCL for quality before authorising their release for sale to the public. This process is followed for all human vaccines used in SA.

 “In our role as vaccine-testing laboratory for the WHO, the NCL helps to ensure that the vaccines purchased through the WHO prequalification programme for international distribution to resource-limited countries, meet the high standards of quality, safety, and efficiency. 
The NCL was one of the first full members of the WHO NCL Network for Biologicals, which consists of full and associate members of regulatory authorities from more than 30 countries.

The NCL systems are world-class

Prof Litthauer said this achievement is recognition that their laboratory complies with specific international standards with respect to its quality-management system. 
“In practice, it means that the laboratory has all the quality systems in place to ensure high-quality test results. The GMP certification is a further step, meaning that laboratory testing is on the expected level for any pharmaceutical testing laboratory and manufacturer. It is a very strict certification.”

He further mentioned that the NCL is also licensed as a pharmaceutical manufacturer. “Although we do not manufacture, we have to comply with manufacturing standards.”
“It is rare for a pharmaceutical testing laboratory (such as the NCL) outside of a manufacturing context to qualify for both certifications. It means that the NCL complies with exceptionally strict standards for pharmaceutical labs anywhere in the world,” he said.
The certification provides the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority, the World Health Organisation, and other national control laboratories around the world, with the confidence that the test results from the NCL can be trusted.


There can be no compromise for quality 

The NCL Quality Assurance Manager, Mrs Marlena Visagie, said, “It is essential that the NCL complies with the highest international quality-assurance standards to ensure that all the lot-release operations, such as manufacturing review and quality testing, are performed in a reliable and reproducible manner.”

“There can be no compromise when it comes to the quality of medicines which are made available to the public,” she said.

“What makes this special, is that the NCL does not only comply with international ISO/IEC standards for pharmaceutical testing, but also with the additional GMP standards required by a pharmaceutical manufacturer. This means that the NCL must ensure that all its operations, including everything from the way documents are compiled and stored, to the maintenance of equipment and infrastructure as well as staff competency, are performed according to international guidelines.”

All NCL staff share vision of excellence

Prof Litthauer said the NCL has a staff complement of 15 technical, administrative, and support staff.  Four staff members have PhDs, and the rest of the technical staff have master’s or bachelor’s degrees or are trained as medical technologists. “At the moment, our biggest problem is to get enough suitable space to expand our testing,” he said.

Prof Litthauer said, “All the staff members at the NCL share the vision of excellence, which makes this kind of achievement possible.”
The NCL will host the third annual meeting of the WHO NCL Network in November of this year and will then be reassessed again by the WHO as part of the normal three-year cycle of assessments.  

News Archive

Top class musicians appointed for UFS Odeion String Quartet
2008-01-29

 
The three new members of the Odeion String Quartet are, from the left: Jeanne-Louise Moolman (alto violinist), Denise Sutton (leader and first violinist), and Sharon de Kock (second violinist).
Photo: Lacea Loader
 

Top class musicians appointed for UFS Odeion String Quartet

The University of the Free State (UFS) has recently appointed three top class musicians for the Odeion String Quartet. The quartet, which was formed in 1991, is the only resident quartet at a South African university.

The new persons who were appointed are: Denise Sutton, first violinist and leader of the string quartet, Jeanne-Louise Moolman, alto violinist, and Sharon de Kock, second violinist. The post of cellist was recently advertised and applications can be submitted at the UFS until 29 February 2008.

The new appointments follow after three former members of the quartet retired or left Bloemfontein at more or less the same time. Michael Haller, longtime cellist of the quartet, will also be retiring at the end of 2008.

These developments means that the Odeion String Quartet will literary be brand new. It also implies that opportunities exist for learners and students to be taught by excellent new lecturers. The new players will also strengthen the Free State Symphony Orchestra to a large extent.

“The Odeion String Quartet is a flagship of the UFS and it symbolises our commitment to the arts. It also plays an important strategic role in the development of symphony orchestra music and classical music training in the Free State. This is why a real attempt was made to obtain top class musicians. We are pleased that such a strong group could be appointed,” said Prof. Frederick Fourie, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS and chairperson of the String Quartet’s management committee.
Most string quartets abroad are affiliated with a higher education institution, which enables a higher level of playing as there is more time for preparation and to study the repertoire. “We appreciate the university’s confidence in us and for the opportunity to explore the intricacies of ensemble playing. We hope that we can produce inspiring performances for our audiences and students,” said Denis Sutton, new leader of the string quartet.

Denise Sutton studied at the University of Stellenbosch (US) and obtained the degree B.Mus. with distinction. After this, she studied in Amsterdam with Theo Olof and Nap de Klijn, as well as in London. She was leader and second violinist in the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and did a successful audition for the English Chamber Orchestra. In South Africa she had a long career as concert master and leader of symphony orchestras. From 1980 she was concert master of the TRUK Orchestra for almost twenty years and from 2000 until 2005 she was member of the Johannesburg Festival Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra of South Africa (COSA). She was also a founding member and leader of the Rosamunde String Quartet, one of the leading string quartets in the country. Denise had a very successful parttime teaching practice at the University of Pretoria (UP) and at a number of schools. She was also involved in postgraduate training. Her students include various competition winners and a number of them are playing professionally.

Jeanne-Louise Moolman studied at the UP under Prof. Alan Solomon where she obtained the B.Mus and B.Mus.Hons. degrees with distinction. She won among others the ATKV Forté and the Oude Meesters competitions and in 1985 she was the first winner of the prestigious 75th Commemorative Prize of the University of Natal. She has about twenty years experience as head alto violinist of various professional orchestras in Gauteng. Until her appointment at the UFS she was leader of the alt violinists in the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra and COSA. She is an experienced chamber musician who regularly performs in various combinations with some of South Africa’s leading musicians. This includes Gerard Korsten, Phillipe Graffin, Jürgen Schwietering, the pianists Lamar Crowson and Albie van Schalkwyk, as well as clarinet player Robert Pickup. Jeanne-Louise was also a founding member of the Rosamunde String Quartet. She lectured on a part time basis at the UP and the Pro Arte Music School.

Sharon de Kock obtained the degrees B.A. Mus. and M.Mus. at the College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) of the University of Cincinnati in the United States of America (USA) in 2002 and 2004 respectively. Some of her teachers include the well-known concert violinist Chee-Yun Kim, Prof. Kurt Sassmannshaus and Piotr Milewski, all alumni of Julliard. From 2004 to 2006 she was violinist lecturer at two universities and a music conservatorium in Puebla, Mexico. She was also violin lecturer at a music school in Costa Rica and was associated with the Hugo Lambrechts Centre in Cape Town since 2007. Her orchestra participation includes among others the Opera Orchestra in Trujillo, Peru, the Sinfonica Nacional de Costa Rica in Costa Rica, as well as the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra, the Richmond Symphony Orchestra and the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra. She also participated in the Luca Music Festival in Italy, the Grandin Music Festival in Portugal, the Pacific Music Festival in Japan and the Aspen Music Festival in the USA. Sharon performed regularly abroad as soloist and received various awards. This includes among others the CCM chamber music competition 2003 and the Baur Orchestral Competition and Heermann competition winner for violin at the CCM in 1995. In 1990 she won the first prize in the Sanlam competition.

The first official performance of the “new” Odeion String Quartet will be in May this year in Bloemfontein. Hopefully the new cellist will be appointed by this time. Members of the quartet will however perform on Friday, 1 February 2008 together with Albie van Schalkwyk and guest cellist Marian Lewin at 19:30 in the Odeion, as well as in the upcoming Spanish Music Festival held in February and March 2008. In May 2008 the quartet will participate in Zimbabwe in the Bulawayo Festival.

Media Release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@ufs.ac.za
29 January 2008
 

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