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30 September 2020 | Story Nitha Ramnath | Photo Supplied
SWSA represented by Mariné du Toit (left) and Lyshea Mapaike(right) at the handover of the funds raised

Sunflower Children’s Hospice, situated on the ground floor of the National District Hospital, is a non-profit organisation that provides care and compassion for all children with life-threatening and life-limiting conditions. As far as possible, the hospice aims to keep children within their families and communities, with relevant supervision and support.  However, the hospice is also a permanent residence to many children.

At Sunflower Children’s Hospice, children and their families are provided with:
• palliative care, including pain and symptom management;
• quality of life;
• relief of suffering;
• support for child and family/guardians;
• developmental stimulation;
• support during the bereavement period;
• dignity in death;
• community participation; and
• relevant training.

Due to limited funds, the hospice experiences many financial challenges, which motivated the Social Work Student Association (SWSA) to become involved. Their involvement led to the establishment of the ‘#Adoptaflower’ project by raising funds for the organisation and getting more Social Work students to spend time with the children, as they do not have enough caregivers at the house to give them the special personal attention that they need.  This project was spearheaded by Mariné du Toit, Portfolio Head: Community Upliftment of the SWSA. 

The fundraising initiative collected R1 300 from selling raffle tickets to the university community.  Due to COVID-19 and the lockdown period, it became impossible to proceed with the intention of the Social Work students to spend more time with the children.  

Besides Social Work students not being able to proceed with their intention of interacting more closely with the children concerned, the lockdown unfortunately also affected it negatively in other areas.  The hospice needs assistance with clothes, toiletries, and groceries. Sunflower House therefore needs funds and sponsors to continue providing services to so many children in need of care and support. For more information regarding public involvement, 051 448 3813 is the number to call. 

News Archive

Nobel Prize-winner presents first lecture at Vice-Chancellor’s prestige lecture series
2017-11-17


 Description: Prof Levitt visit Tags: Prof Levitt visit

At the first lecture in the UFS Vice Chancellor’s Prestige Lecture series,
were from the left: Prof Jeanette Conradie, UFS Department of Chemistry;
Prof Michael Levitt, Nobel Prize-winner in Chemistry, biophysicist and
professor in structural biology at Stanford University; Prof Francis Petersen,
UFS Vice-Chancellor and Rector; and Prof Corli Witthuhn,
UFS Vice-Rector: Research. 
Photo: Johan Roux

South African born biophysicist and Nobel Prize-winner in Chemistry, Prof Michael Levitt, paid a visit to the University of the Free Sate (UFS) as part of the Academy of Science of South Africa’s (ASSAf) Distinguished Visiting Scholars’ Programme. 

Early this week the professor in structural biology at Stanford University in the US presented a captivating lecture on the Bloemfontein Campus on his lifetime’s work that earned him the Nobel Prize in 2013. His lecture launched the UFS Vice-Chancellor’s Prestige Lecture series, aimed at knowledge sharing within, and beyond our university boundaries. 

Prof Levitt was one of the first researchers to conduct molecular dynamics simulations of DNA and proteins and developed the first software for this purpose. He received the prize for Chemistry, together with Martin Karplus and Arieh Warshel, “for the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems”.

Attending the lecture were members of UFS management, academic staff from a range of faculties and other universities as well as young researchers. “Multiscale modelling is very much based on something that makes common sense,” Prof Levitt explained. “And that is to makes things as simple as possible, but not simpler. Everything needs to have the right level of simplicity, that is not too simple, but not too complicated.”  

An incredible mind
Prof Levitt enrolled for applied mathematics at the University of Pretoria at the age of 15. He visited his uncle and aunt in London after his first-year exams, and decided to stay on because they had a television, he claims. A series on molecular biology broadcast on BBC, sparked an interest that would lead Prof Levitt via Israel, and Cambridge, to the Nobel Prize stage – all of which turned out to be vital building blocks for his research career. 

Technology to the rescue
The first small protein model that Prof Levitt built was the size of a room. But that exercise led to the birth of multiscale modelling of macromolecules. For the man on the street, that translates to computerised models used to simulate protein action, and reaction. With some adaptations, the effect of medication can be simulated on human protein in a virtual world. 

“I was lucky to stand on the shoulder of giants,” he says about his accomplishments, and urges the young to be good and kind. “Be passionate about what you do, be persistent, and be original,” he advised.  

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