I go to seek a great perhaps: the quest to obtain an approximate understanding of steriod hormone receptor signalling
Ann Louw (née Ramsay) was born on 30 March 1957 in Vereeniging, where she grew up until the age of 13 when her parents relocated to Mexico City. She started her schooling at Drie Riviere Laerskool and Drie Riviere Hoërskool in Vereeniging, continued it at the Greengates School in Mexico City and completed Grade 13 at Forest Hill Collegiate Institute in Toronto, Canada. She returned to South Africa for her tertiary education, completing her BSc with majors in biochemistry and physiology in 1977 and her BSc Honours in 1978 at Stellenbosch University, the alma mater of both her mother, Una Ramsay (BA in 1947), and her grandfather, Eben Dönges (BA in 1918, MA in 1919). She then continued studying towards her MSc in Biochemistry while working for the Research Department of the Western Province Blood Transfusion Service (1979–1985), completing the degree cum laude in 1984. She married her husband Albé in 1980. In 1986 her son Niel was born, and she needed some time to acclimatise to parenthood. Thus she accepted part-time employment: first as part-time technical officer in the Department of Medical Biochemistry at the University of Cape Town (1987–1988) and in 1988 as part-time technical officer in the Department of Biochemistry at Stellenbosch University, where she has remained ever since. In 1990, the year her second son, Ramsay, was born, she was appointed as lecturer in the Department of Biochemistry and continued her studies under the supervision of Prof Kirsten van der Merwe and Prof Pieter Swart, receiving her PhD in 1998, the year her daughter Una was born. She was promoted to senior lecturer in 1999, to associate professor in 2009 and to full professor in 2014. Prof Louw’s research focuses on signal transduction via steroid hormone receptors, specifically the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) and the oestrogen receptor (ER), which mediate the intracellular actions of the stress hormone cortisol and the sex hormone oestrogen, respectively. Recent work on the phytooestrogenic activity of Cyclopia or honeybush tea has highlighted ER subtype-specific signalling, indicating a potential use in breast cancer prevention or treatment, while recent work on the GR is focussing on the implications of loss or gain of dimerisation.