About me

ed at homeI have been at the University of Cape Town (UCT) since I came to Cape Town on holiday from Zambia in the beginning of 1974, and fell in love with the place. I obtained a BSc in Chemistry and Microbiology in 1976, an Honours in Virology in 1977, a MSc in 1979 and a PhD in the same discipline in 1984.  I became a Lecturer in Virology in 1981, and have risen through the ranks to become a Professor in Microbiology (in January 2003).  I am also a Founder Member of the Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine (IDM) based in the Health Sciences Faculty.  For the duration of 2011-2016 I was seconded to the Research Office and ICT Services at UCT to liaise on the creation of a Research Portal. I have been back teaching full time since 2018, and will retire from full-time academia at the end of 2023.


My undergraduate teaching speciality is Molecular and General Virology, then Viromics and Genetics of Viruses, with some dabbling on the side in Molecular Immunology.


My main research interests are presently in students and postdocs making human and animal virus vaccine candidates and reagents in plants: these presently include HIV-1 Env protein, proteins for mucosal human papillomaviruses (HPVs), foot and mouth disease virus, and lately, SARS-CoV-2 S protein.  We also work on characterisation and molecular biology of the parrot ssDNA virus Beak and feather disease virus and the possibility of making vaccines and therapeutics for the virus disease.

In 2013 I applied for recognition of our research group as the Biopharming Research Unit, which was granted. We had our 6-year review in 2018, which went very well.

I still have a nostalgic interest in the diversity of southern African mastreviruses (family Geminiviridae), the molecular determinants of pathogenicity and host range in these viruses, and especially in Maize streak virus. This has been diverted in recent years into the highly successful use of geminiviruses as vectors of foreign genes in plants.


I enjoy photography, occasionally tending succulent plants, reading and sometimes writing science fiction, classic rock music, family, red wine and sunsets.  And combining these. Oh, and finally learning how to play guitar, after a break of >39 years!

9 Responses to “About me”

  1. Thomas Kohl Says:

    Hi Ed,

    Thoroughly enjoy reading your Blog. Incredible of how much you have integrated the web into your teachings, since we were students so many years ago.


  2. Leo Jeremias Says:

    Dear Ed

    I noticed you are a resource for research students and wanted to introduce you to something that can be helpful to your students.

    We developed an amazing tool, that gathers an image of a selected webpage and allows you to cut a small piece of the image that relevant, save it in preview and slideshow format, as well as a drag and drop filing system. This could be invaluable for students collaborating on a research project and can share research easily.

    Our website is http://www.searchgby.com

    Our website is just a drive to our Firefox, and chrome and soon IE add on that integrates directly into your browser.


    We developed 4 revolutionary concepts:

    1) Multiple search engine search, and default filtering of duplicate results.

    2) Fast preview for site results in slideshow mode.

    3) User driven real time site updates. With a zoom and bookmark feature,It fetches current data in REAL TIME READABLE format unlike all other site previews currently out there.

    4) A new image bookmarking system a way to share info, and save relevant data , in case the page changes at some point.

    I urge you to play around.

    Leo Jeremias

    Please check out this YouTube tutorial for a better understanding how this works


  3. Fahim Says:

    Hi Professor Rybicki.
    Search for information on pipo gene in potyviridae opened my way to this blog. “an extra pocket in your trousers” -that was a very nice way to give the account of the new gene.. ..

    I have targeted peeping pipo with amiRNA and will be sending off the paper for publication very soon.


  4. Chris C Says:

    Hi Dr. Rybicki,
    Very cool site! I have a question about Chamberland Filters.
    My microbio professor mentioned them today in class and I would like to know how the pore size was determined way back when they were originally being used. Was it just that thus far when using them, they had always isolated any bacterial contaminants and so it was simply assumed that the pore size must be small enough to filter out bacteria? Or did they know somehow, that the pores were actually that small bby some other method than simply having filtered out bacteria in previous experiments? Thanks so much:)

    • Ed Rybicki Says:

      Hi Chris: As far as I know, they would have done it using colloids or other suspension, as physical chemistry was far enough along at the time for them to be able to make – and separate, by sedimentation in a water column – different-sized particles, whose size they could estimate. Try it with sand sometime!

  5. Drake Says:

    Hi Prof. Nice to see the materials you shared on line. Could you fix the links embedded in your “about me” page. When following your references I was presented with Error messages.

    Thank you for sharing.
    Boston, MA

  6. Pete Lusty Says:

    Hi Ed{Professesor],

    This a blast from the past – 1984. Howzit my china or words to that effect. Mum and I am pleased that you are doing well. How the years run away. I would be delighted to see a response sometime.
    Will be in touch just now – if memory serves me correctly.Our daughter reckons that I am an old man. Rubbish 62 is only middle age!

    All the best,

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