Research | Publications | Patents | Collaborations | Lab members | Telephone: +27 21 650 3265 | Facsimile: +27 21 650 2646





Vaccinology / protein expression
Research activities here are centred on the use of plants and of recombinant baculoviruses in insect tissue cultures to make candidate vaccines against Human papillomaviruses, HIV-1 subtype C, Beak and feather disease virus (BFDV) of psittacines, H5N1 and H1N1 influenza viruses, Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever and Rift Valley fever viruses, and Foot and mouth disease virus. The use of geminiviruses as vectors of foreign genes in plants is a topic of interest. The group also has a strong interest in the use of novel DNA vaccine vectors incorporating Porcine circovirus type 1 (PCV-1) enhancer elements, and the use of plants to make commercially important reagents and diagnostics.

Marine Viromics / Virus Diversity
A recent project is a next-generation sequencing programme aimed at assessing oceanic and near-shore diversity of viruses, and in particular those associated with cellular organisms important in marine food webs. We are also continuing an investigation of plant geminivirus diversity and molecular biology (since 1985), of Human papillomaviruses (since 1989) and of Beak and feather disease virus of psittacines in southern Africa (since 2004).

Virus graphics courtesy of Russell Kightley


Selected publications

I have authored or co-authored over 120 articles and 19 reviews in peer-reviewed journals, and about 20 book chapters, as well as a number of popular or opinion articles and conference report-backs in journals. A comprehensive and up-to-date list is available via Google Scholar citations.

As of late June 2015, I have published two ebooks with a virology theme on the Apple iBooks Store. These are A Short History of the Discovery of Viruses, and Influenza Virus: Introduction to a Killer. Both were composed using Apple's iBooks Author app, and published in iBooks format, for reading with the iBooks app on Mac, iPad or iPhone. I am amenable to publishing PDF versions of both if there is any demand - however, this means losing some of the iBooks functionality.

Sadly, neither is available on the South African store, so if you would like one, go to the US/UK stores via iTunes. If you would like a promotional code in order to assess the books for recommendation to students or colleagues, please contact me directly.

I have been involved since 1994 in writing educational and study material for the Web, and my much-updated Electronic Introduction to Molecular Virology is still available on this site, as well as via the UCT Open Educational Resources page. One of the more accessed resources in the UCT OER repository is my Manual of Online Molecular Biology Techniques, which is extensively used by researchers outside of UCT.

Additionally, I maintain a university-level Virology teaching resource called ViroBlogy, as well as a general public information site called Virology News. I also run the International Society for Plant Molecular Farming site, co-curate an information page on aquatic viruses and another on virology and bioinformatics, and tweet on virology topics (and other things) under @edrybicki.

I have also written a number of stories, essays and songs for the Web over the last 20 years.


I am listed as an inventor on some 17 patent families, with around 44 country patents published (see Google Scholar).
Recent patents:

2020 | Extracellular Assembly of Virus Like Particles, Dennis, Susan Jennifer, Meyers, Ann Elizabeth, Hitzeroth, Inga Isabel, Rybicki, Edward Peter PA172961/P | Provisional filed

2020 | Plant Produced Bovine Papillomavirus Virus-Like Particles and Pseudovirions, Rybicki, Edward Peter; Van Zyl, Albertha René, Hitzeroth, Inga Isabel; Pietersen, Inge PA173571/P | Provisional filed in ZA and GB

2018 | Plant Produced PCV Pseudovirion, Rybicki, Edward Peter. Hitzeroth, Inga Isabel, Regnard, Guy Louis, PA169568/P | Provisional and PCT filed 2019, National phase ZA, US

2016 | Production of a Horseradish Peroxidase-IgG Fusion Protein, EP Rybicki, II Hitzeroth, EA Meyers, PA165327, WO2017203426A1
Filed in ZA, GB, EP, CN, JP, US

2013 | HPV Chimaeric Particle, EP Rybicki, II Hitzeroth | WO Patent 2,013,080,187

2013 | Expression of Proteins in Plants, A Williamson, EP Rybicki, JM Maclean, II Becker-Hitzeroth | US Patent 20,130,130,314

2013 | HPV Pseudovirions, EP Rybicki, II Hitzeroth PA158146, EP3024937, US20160168583A1 | Granted in ZA, US, EP, DE, filed in FR, GB, ES, IT, CA, PC

2012 | Rotavirus Virus-like particle production in plants, EP Rybicki, II Hitzeroth, DLR Mutepfa EP2847324B1 (PCT No WO2013166609A1)
Filed in US, Korea, | Granted in Europe, China, Canada, Denmark, Spain | Applicant Medicago

2012 Chimaeric Human Papillomavirus 16 L1 Virus-like Particles and a Method for Preparing the Particles, AD Varsani, EP Rybicki | US Patent 8,163,557

2011 | HPV Chimaeric Particle (small VLP), EP Rybicki, II Hitzeroth, PA154565, US20140377367A1, EP2785842A4 | Filed in Philippines, Europe, Thailand, Canada, Australia, SA, Japan, Korea, United Arab Emirates, Israel, India, Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, Malaysia, Viet Nam, Hong Kong, Japan. | Granted in US, China, Russia, New Zealand

2011 | Recombinant Protein Bodies as Immunogen-Specific Adjuvants, EP Rybicki, AE Meyers, F Devesa, P Marzábal Luna, II Hitzeroth, P Öhlschläger | US Patent 20,110,262,478

2011 | Expression of Viral Proteins in Plants, A Williamson, EP Rybicki, JM Maclean | EP Patent 2,374,892

2011 | Method for Enhancing the Expression of HPV L1, EP Rybicki, II Hitzeroth | WO Patent WO/2011/077,371 

2008 | Recombinant protein bodies as immunogen-specific adjuvants, EP Rybicki, AE Meyers, F Devesa, P Marzábal Luna, II Hitzeroth, P Öhlschläger; PCT | No WO2010040847A3, EP2356133A2, KR20110084906A, JP5667062B2 | Filed in Europe, Korea | Granted in Japan, US | Applicant ERA Biotech   


Prof Vernon Coyne, MCB
Prof Anna-Lise Williamson, Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine
Prof Sue Harrison, Dept Chemical Engineering, UCT
Prof Marietjie Venter, University of Pretoria
Markus Sack, Fraunhofer Institute, Aachen
Dr Tomas Moravec, Institute of Experimental Botany, Czech Republic
Dr Neil Christensen, Dept Pathology, Penn State, USA
Miriam Bastida, ZIP Solutions, Spain
Andres Wigdorowitz, INTA, Argentina
Marc-Andre D’Aoust, Medicago, Canada

Lab members