Department of Biochemistry

School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences

About Us

Biochemistry is a discipline that brings Biology and Chemistry into convergence. It is in turn sub-divided into three key areas: protein science, metabolism and genetics. Biochemistry focuses on studying the structure-function features of Biomolecules such as proteins, nucleic acids, carbohydrates and lipids, all of which facilitate cellular processes. It also focuses on understanding the functional interactions of Biomolecules and how the functions of these molecules is regulated to ensure cellular homeostasis. Because of its importance in cellular processes and disease, Biochemistry is also an important discipline of medicine. It is also applied in the field of biomedicine (e.g. disease diagnosis) and biotechnological innovations.

HOD’s Profile

Prof. Shonhai’s research involves understanding how malaria parasites survive within the unfavourable conditions in the human host. One of the intriguing aspects of malaria parasites is their life cycle which involves spending time in cold-blooded mosquito vectors followed by a stint in the warm-bloodied human host. Prof. Shonhai’s research seeks to understand how proteins of the malaria parasite are able to withstand temperature changes and stress conditions associated with life in the host. In addition, his research focuses on heat shock proteins of malaria parasites. Heat shock proteins are involved in facilitating fold of other proteins and play an important role during adverse stress conditions. Parasite heat shock proteins are also implicated in host invasion and host evasion of host defense processes.
Prof. Shonhai is a recipient of a prestigious Georg Foster Fellowship which was awarded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (AvH) of Germany. He is a life-time alumini member of AvH. The award enabled him to spend one year in Prof. Jude Przyborski’s lab in Marburg, Germany from April 2012-March 2013. Funding for his research is supported by the DFG (Germany Research Foundation) and the National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa.
Prof. Shonhai is the head of the Protein Biochemistry and Malaria (ProBioM) Research Group which is based in the department.

The department of Biochemistry offers the following modules at undergraduate and Honours levels, respectively:


First Year

Structural and Functional Biochemistry I
Biochemical and Molecular Techniques
Structural and Functional Biochemistry II


Second Year

Structural Biochemistry I
Structural Biochemistry II
Biochemical and Molecular Techniques


Third Year

Protein Biochemistry
Advanced Molecular Techniques
Enzymology and Enzyme Biotechnology
Gene Expression, Protein Synthesis and Bioinformatics


Modules taught at Honours Level

Research Methods and Seminars
Genomics, Proteomics and Bioinformatics
Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology
Research Techniques
Physiological Biochemistry and Cell Biology
Protein Folding and Advanced Enzyme Kinetics
Research Project and Report

Masters and PhD Program

We also offer Masters and PhD training. MSc and PhD degrees are undertaken through research under the guidance of a supervisor/promoter appointed from staff members within the department. Where necessary co-supervisors/promoters may be sought from outside the department in order to provide adequate support to the students.


Our staff members are experts in various aspects of Biochemistry in which they conduct research. As principal investigators, our staff members supervise postgraduate students who are enrolled in the department. On average we host about 5-8 Honours students and 10-15 MSc and PhD students every year. We also offer training to postdoctoral fellows. Provided below is a summary of some of the research undertaken by the various members of staff in the department:

Contact Us

Department of Biochemistry
School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences
University of Venda
Private Bag X5050

Contact persons in the Department
Prof. Addmore Shonhai +27 15 962 8723

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