IThemba LABS a beacon of research excellence and transformation


The Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Buti Manamela, has praised the work being carried out at the iThemba Laboratory for Accelerator-Based Sciences (iThemba LABS).


IThemba LABS, a business unit of the National Research Foundation (NRF), which is a public entity overseen by the Department of Science and Innovation, brings together scientists working in the physical, medical and biological sciences.


The Deputy Minister visited the facility this week, and lauded the staff for the incredible science they were carrying out. He visited the 32-year old separated sector cyclotron, an accelerator that produces particle beams for nuclear physics research, particle therapy research and the production of radioisotopes, which, among other things, are used to treat cancer.


Radioisotope production at iThemba LABS is an example of research that supports innovative and relevant solutions.  Over the years, the facility has developed a global reputation for the production of high-grade radioisotopes and radiopharmaceuticals.


Hosting the Deputy Minister, Dr Faïçal Azaiez, the iThemba LABS Director, thanked the Department for its ongoing support for the facility.


"Excellence and sustainability are the bedrock of the institution; the quality and innovative character of our research has made us into a reputable global institution," he said.


The facility is counted as one of the best in the world, with similar institutions Brazil, Australia, Argentina and Australia.


Research at iThemba LABS is driven by the need to bring about societal benefit, aligning the facility to the country's developmental agenda.


"The lab prides itself in supporting industry and academia as a national facility for basic and applied research, development and training in accelerator-based science. The impact of this specialty is chiefly on nuclear medicine and material research in nanoscience."


Central to the iThemba LABS work is its commitment to transformation in academia and the industry.


"IThemba LABS has about 100 high-level scientific expert students, and produces about 150 publications a year," said Dr Azaiez, "And we are just beginning."


The Deputy Minister met several students during his tour of the facility and assured them that the Department of Science and Innovation would continue to offer support to the institution through the National Research Foundation and related stakeholders.



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