Exercise Science and Sports Medicine Research Unit
Prof Tim Noakes
Tim Noakes began his exercise research in a small laboratory in the basement
of the Department of Physiology at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in 1981.
With only one laboratory assistant and a single bicycle, Prof. Noakes forged
ahead with unbridled
enthusiasm and initiative.
By 1989, the research
had grown to such an extent that the Medical Research Council (MRC) and UCT
agreed to fund a UCT/MRC Bioenergetics of Exercise Research Unit (BERU).
Tim Noakes, Director of the unit,
using the Body IQ system.
In 2000, the name of the
unit was changed to the UCT/MRC Research Unit for Exercise Science and Sports
Medicine. It is now located in the Sports Science Institute of South Africa
(SSISA), Newlands, and boasts state-of-the-art equipment, extensive facilities
and internationally renowned research staff.
Although it is located
in SSISA, the unit remains part of the Department of Human Biology within
the Faculty of Health Sciences at UCT. The primary functions of its staff
are still teaching and research.
At any given time, there are about 60 research projects underway, with current areas of research
- Effectiveness of sports-specific
training protocols, and predictability of athletic ability or performance;
- Exercise metabolism
and fluid balance during endurance and ultra-endurance exercise;
- Energy balance, sports
nutrition and physical activity throughout the life cycle;
- Physical activity
and health in communities undergoing epidemiological transition;
- Genetic determination
of athletic ability and susceptibility to exercise-induced injuries;
- Neurophysiology and
the control mechanisms of fatigue;
- Muscle structure,
recruitment and function and the causes of muscle damage;
- Sports injuries and
- Physical exercise
in the prevention and rehabilitation of chronic disease states.
- Molecular mechanisms
by which exercise training increases the capacity to expend energy and improve
Research funding is derived
from UCT, the MRC, the National Research Foundation (NRF), the Training Human
Resources Industry Programme (THRIP) and contract research conducted for various
companies. Additional support also comes from long-term, committed donors,
such as Discovery Health, Bromor Foods and the Sports Science Institute of
South Africa. Discovery Health also funds Professor Noakes' Chair of Exercise
and Sports Science.