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Professor: Microbial Biochemical and Food Biotechnology, University of the Free State

Prof Robert Bragg and his research team from the Department of Microbial, Biochemical and Food Biotechnology are regarded as world leaders in their area of research.

In a major breakthrough, they have been able to produce a vaccine against a virus which cannot be cultured. The technology is now used as a model for their other vaccine development projects. His main research focuses on control of diseases, mainly in the veterinary field.

Current research areas focus on infectious coryza in poultry, disease control in a post-antibiotic era and vaccine development. They are assisting vaccine producers in South Africa, India and Israel to improve the formulation of vaccines, and are investigating variant field isolates from countries in South and Central America. Resistance to disinfectants are also investigated.

Disease control in a post-antibiotic era includes investigation into the use of bacteriophages, or bacteriophage enzymes for treatment of bacterial diseases (mainly in poultry) and improvements in biosecurity in poultry production. In this regard, Prof Bragg visited poultry producers around the world.

In vaccine development, they obtained a novel expression system for the development of vaccines and improved diagnostic tests for the beak and feather disease virus in parrots and E. coli infection in poultry parrots. The technology has also been applied to two projects in human health.

Projects which are planned include infectious coryza and the development of a vaccine for Newcastle disease for use in rural poultry. They are also negotiating with vaccine producers in Israel and India for the use of technology.

The team also tests products to be used in the poultry industry. This includes the evaluation of vaccines, disinfectants, herbal extracts and antibiotics.


  • –present
    Professor: Microbial Biochemical and Food Biotechnology, University of the Free State