Media Releases

The Australian wine industry beneficiary of reverse ‘brain-drain’ (appointment of Director of Research, Professor Isak Pretorius)

The Australian Wine Research Institute announced recently the appointment of highly respected scientist, Professor Isak (Sakkie) Pretorius to the position of Director of Research effective from February 2003.

In making the announcement, the Director of the Institute, Professor Peter Høj said, “It is a significant coup for the Australian wine industry and indeed for Australian science that we have secured the services of Sakkie Pretorius. He has a world-wide reputation for his scientific ability and his research management and it is an added bonus that he is already well known by many senior industry technicians, who support this appointment.”

The Chairman of the Institute, Robin Day, was ebullient in his praise of Dr Pretorius, “For the past seven years, Sakkie has been Director of the Institute for Wine Biotechnology; Professor in Microbiology, Department of Microbiology and the Professor in Wine Biotechnology, Department of Viticulture and Oenology at Stellenbosch University, and he has published 100 articles in refereed journals and delivered more than 360 lectures at conferences and research seminars. We are confident that the brain-power that Sakkie will bring to Australia will complement the excellent team at the Institute that are already applying themselves to strategic and applied research of benefit to the Australian wine industry.” he said, “With Sakkie’s appointment, The Australian Wine Research Institute is strategically well positioned with a formidable team to tackle industry’s research needs into the future.”

Dr Sakkie Pretorius holds a BSc(Agric)(Hons), MSc(Agric) and PhD from the University of the Orange Free State (South Africa) and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (New York). His research focus has been on genetic improvement of industrially important yeast strains (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) and grapevine cultivars and his teaching centred on molecular biology and genetics of yeasts/recombinant DNA techniques; applied wine microbiology and wine biotechnology.

His membership on professional societies and committees during the past five years include:

  • elected as a fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa and The Academy of Science of South Africa;
  • Vice-president of the Expert Group for Wine Microbiology of the Office International de la Vigne et du Vin (OIV);
  • Member of the Executive Council and Management Committee of the Wine Network of Expertise and Technology (Winetech) and Chairman of the Training Committee;
  • Representative of South Africa on the International Commission for Yeasts (ICY) and on the Finance and Policy Committee of the International Commission for Yeast Genetics and Molecular Biology (IYGMB);
  • Member of the Board of Directors of KWV South Africa (Pty.) Ltd. and the Board of Directors of the South African Wine Industry Trust’s business support company, known as Busco;
  • Member of the Western Cape Biotech Strategy Committee and Commercialisation Committee of the Cape Biotech Initiative (CBI);
  • Member of the Advisory Panel of the Research Board of the Deciduous Fruit Producers’ Trust that is responsible for the planning of strategic research for the South African fruit industry;
  • Member of the Editorial Board of scientific journals (American Journal of Enology and Viticulture; Annals of Microbiology; Applied & Environmental Microbiology; FEMS Yeast Research; South African Journal of Enology and Viticulture; Yeast)

Professor Pretorius will commence at the Institute in January 2003.