Prof. Karl Rumbold

School of Molecular And Cell Biology, Wits University, South Africa


A microbiologist by training, Professor Rumbold graduated from the University of Graz, Austria, and started an international academic career at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa, where he received my PhD. He then held research positions at the University College London and Ghent University, Belgium. Since 2005, he has been Project Manager in charge of interdisciplinary research projects commissioned by leading biotech and chemical companies while working at Ghent University and the Dutch research organization TNO. He accepted a faculty position at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (Wits) in 2009 and was appointed Associate Professor in 2015.

At Wits, he founded the Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology Laboratory. His laboratory has received funding from the DST Biocatalysis Initiative for three ongoing projects, namely “Molecular cloning and characterization of plant fluorinases”, “Identification and application of new oxynitrilases from the SA flora for biocatalysis” and “Metabolic pathway engineering of Streptomyces albulus”. Two additional projects currently funded by the NRF are titled “Metabolomic interaction between drought-stressed Helianthus annus and Pseudomonas fluorescence” and “Genetic Diversity and Evolution of Saccharomyces cerevisiae in China and Africa”.

His future endeavours for growing industrial biotechnology in Africa are:

  • to positively influence and stimulate national policy making
  • to actively contribute to the growth of the Bio-based Economy
  • to better understand Sub-Saharan biosphere diversity
  • to functionalize this biodiversity sequence space for industrial applications