Prof. Kathy Myburgh is only the second South African scientist to have been recognised by the American College of Sport Medicine (ACSM) for her important contributions to exercise science.
The ACSM is the world’s largest sports medicine and exercise science organisation, with more than 50 000 international, national and regional members. Prof. Myburgh is one of six select scientists from around the world to have received a 2023 Citation Award. The announcement was made recently during a gala dinner at the end of the 2023 ACSM Annual Meeting and World Congress in Denver, Colorado.
Myburgh holds the South African Research Chair in Skeletal Muscle Physiology, Biology and Biotechnology in the Department of Physiological Sciences at Stellenbosch University (SU), where she is also a distinguished professor. She was elected as an ACSM Fellow in 1991.
In a special feature on her life’s work, Myburgh compared her mind-set with that of the elite athlete: “The mindset required of both the elite athlete and the serious researcher is the fundamental acceptance of slow, meticulous progress and continuous questioning”.
Trained as a gymnast from the age of 11, Myburgh joined the national gymnastics team and competed as a high-level athlete from the late 1970s to the early 1980s.
She started her academic career at the University of Pretoria, but then transferred to the University of Cape Town (UCT) to work under Prof. Tim Noakes, where she specialised in exercise physiology, metabolic biochemistry and biomechanics. After one year of teaching at a high school, she returned to UCT for an MSc, which was subsequently upgrade to a PhD. It was here where she began her formal study of the musculoskeletal system, which would become the focus of her career.
After completion of her PhD, Myburgh received a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University’s Division for Geriatric Endocrinology. This research group focused on the relationship between bone mass and muscle mass and endocrine control of each. This was followed by a second postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California San Franscisco Medical Centre, where she focussed on skeletal muscle contraction and the biochemistry of fatigue.
In 1997 she accepted a senior lecturer position at Stellenbosch University. Her current work focusses on skeletal muscle regeneration from damage.
Over the course of her career, Myburgh has authored over 180 publications with nearly 15 000 citations. She has an h-index of 38.
Myburgh says she is honoured by the Citation Award, as the ACSM has been her academic home society since the 1990s: “I have attended around twenty ACSM conferences over the years. I have met wonderful people in my field of interest whose respect for my work encouraged me even further. I was always happy to contribute to the ACSM annual meetings when I thought I had something interesting to share.”
Click here to read more about her past and current research.
- In 1996 Prof. Tim Noakes from the Institute for Sport Science at UCT was the first South African to receive a Citation Award from the ACSM.