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H3D Drug Discovery Capacity Building

H3D is based at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in Cape Town, South Africa, where it has a large footprint, collaborating and providing services to a range of institutes across the continent. In addition to the advice and services, H3D also provides drug discovery training through our open drug discovery webinar program.

Through our capacity building initiatives, and with support from our numerous partners and collaborators, we aim to reduce barriers for African scientists to break new ground within the drug discovery-related sciences. With the overall objective to build new capabilities, and continue to strengthen existing competencies, in this discipline across Africa.

One of our key capacity building initiatives is in collaboration with the African Academy of Sciences (AAS), through its Grand Challenges programme, Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). This initiative came together in 2018 with the specific aim to expand and strengthen the drug discovery community in Africa. This initiative seeks to target the best African scientists in drug discovery either already working in the field or whose expertise can be leveraged to bring positive change while at the same time create a cohort of future leaders to build and sustain world-class research teams in this science.

Grand Challenges Africa Drug Discovery

The first cohort of eight drug discovery scientists was successfully awarded, in June 2019, after a rigorous selection process. The successful scientists are based at the following institutions; University of Yaoundé, University of Ghana, Malaria Research Training Centre, Rhodes University, Technical University of Kenya and University of Ibadan.

The Drug Discovery and Development Centre (H3D) at the University of Cape Town is a key partner in this collaboration. We provide guidance based on our experience in conducting drug discovery projects on the continent to make this program a success. H3D offers access to our facilities and screening services in order to address gaps identified at the African partner institution. H3D will specifically participate in this program by providing opportunities to African partners:

  1. to be immersed within H3D’s ongoing malaria and TB drug discovery projects as full project members working from their home institutions 
  2. to use H3D infrastructure, technology platforms and expertise to fill gaps in their own environment 
  3. to generate key data from existing screening assays to support the projects at the African partner institution as well as to provide project management support and guidance with data interpretation
  4.  to tap into existing H3D/pharmaceutical industry scientist exchange programs for capacity building in order to gain additional skills

In June 2020 AAS released the call for the 2nd cohort of scientists to be supported by this programme and the application triage is currently in progress.