Prof Vanessa Steenkamp

Prof Vanessa  Steenkamp

South Africa

University of Pretoria


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Work and Research

Professor Vanessa Steenkamp is a full professor in Pharmacology and Head of the same Department in the Faculty of Health Sciences. Preceding this appointment, she was associate professor and Head of Phytopharmacology. She holds a PhD (Med) in Clinical Biochemistry from the University of the Witwatersrand and a higher education diploma from UNISA. She is a member of nine scientific societies relevant to her research- ranging from biochemistry and toxicology to medicinal plants and analytical technologies. She is professionally registered as a medical scientist and a natural scientist in the fields of biological and toxicological studies. She is President of the South African Society for Basic and Clinical Pharmacolgy and Vice-President of the Toxicology Society of South Africa.

Fields Of Expertise

Drug development

Research Profiles

More about my research

Her focus areas include phytopharmacology and drug discovery. This involves determining the bioactivity of plant material, with isolation of active fractions or compounds. The latter can ultimately lead to the development of new commercial products. Further focus areas include drug discovery of in silico-designed lead compounds and development of phytopharmacological compounds for neurological, diabetic and wound healing conditions where advanced methods and cutting-edge techniques are employed in conjunction with well established local and international collaborations. Established techniques utilised in the department includes mechanistic studies of potential anticancer lead compounds (including selectivity assessment) and the role of extracellular matrix in cancer metastasis and wound healing. Pharmacological safety and toxicity testing is assessed pre-clinically.

Prof Steenkamp is the author and co-author of 150 scientific papers and 5 book chapters.  She has received a number of awards for her research both nationally and internationally, amongst which is the prestigious Friedel Sellschop award, formerly known as the University of the Witwatersrand Young Researcher and Exceptional Young Researcher of the University of Pretoria, two of the leading academic institutions in the country. Prof Steenkamp has given >290 presentations at national and international conferences and has been the invited speaker and chair on many occasions at these meetings. She serves as reviewer for 36 international peer-reviewed journals and is on the editorial board of 6 journals.  She is actively involved in scientific organizations both locally and abroad. She is Immediate Past President of the Federation of South African Society of Pathology, Vice-President of the Toxicology Society of South Africa and President of the South African Association of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology. Internationally her activities include serving as member of the Executive Committee of the Education and Management Division of the International Federation of Clinical Chemistry and as Past-President of the African Federation of Clinical Chemistry, which she founded and was Inaugural President of. At the University of Pretoria she is a member of amongst others the PhD Committee of the School of Medicine; Academic Advisory Committee and Rating committee for applications to NRF.  She is also a member of the Health Sciences Specialist Committee of the NRF Rating Panel. She has served as a member of the South African National Committee for the International Union for Basic and Clinical Pharmacology.  She is a C1-rated scientist. She has supervised 54 postgraduate students to graduation and is currently supervising 17 students at masters and doctoral level.