H3D’s operations committee (OpsCom) is responsible for the day to day operational management of H3D and for implementing its strategy and business plans.
Dr Susan Winks
Operations and Research Project Manager
Susan Winks obtained her BSc with distinction in Chemistry and Biochemistry from the
University of Cape Town in 2004 and later her BSc(Hons) degree in 2005 also from the University of Cape Town. She came top of her class for honours, winning herself the James Mohr Medal. In 2006 she moved to Johannesburg where she studied her PhD at the University of the Witwatersrand under the supervision of Prof. Jo Michael. During the following 4 years Susan worked as a Teaching Assistant and lectured chemistry to undergraduates. At the end of 2009 Susan completed her PhD entitled “Vinylogous Sulfonamides in the Total Synthesis of Indolizidine Alkaloids from Amphibians and Ants”.
In 2010 Susan started working as a research scientist at Ithemba Pharmaceuticals Ptd Ltd, a start-up biotech focused on drug discovery for neglected diseases. In 2011 she was promoted to Principal Scientist and with her increased involvement in managerial activities she decided to pursue a part-time MBA through the Management College of South Africa, which she obtained in 2014. Susan joined H3D as a Research Officer in August 2013 and in 2015 she retired from the lab bench to increase her involvement in project management and operations at H3D.
Dr Alissa Myrick
Senior Research Officer | TB Biology and Parasitology
Alissa Myrick is an infectious disease molecular biologist with over a decade of experience studying the molecular mechanisms of drug resistance in both malaria and tuberculosis.
Alissa Myrick is an infectious disease molecular biologist with over a decade of experience studying the molecular mechanisms of drug resistance in both malaria and tuberculosis. read more
She has been particularly interested in studying the basic biology of efflux pumps and defining their role in modulating resistance. Dr. Myrick obtained her PhD at the Harvard School of Public Health in Prof. Dyann Wirth’s lab where she identified a novel regulatory mechanism for a plasmodial transporter protein known to modulate resistance to quinoline antimalarial compounds. She continued her studies the expression profiles of virulence genes and the natural history of plasmodial infection in Phil Rosenthal’s lab at UC San Francisco and Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda.
Dr. Myrick returned to the Harvard School of Public Health as a Yerby Research Fellow to study the molecular genetics of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in Eric Rubin’s lab. She developed a heterologous expression system to determine the efflux capacity and substrate specificity of individual mycobacterial transporters. This work is being expanded in an active collaboration with the Balagadde Lab at K-RITH in Durban. Finally, Dr. Myrick spent significant time in optimization of strain-building techniques for proteins essential for growth in M.tuberculosis.
Dr. Myrick will bring her biological expertise to inform drug discovery efforts at H3D.
Dr Dale Taylor
Principal Scientific Officer | PK
Dale is a cell biologist by trade, with a background in biochemistry and microbial genetics.
His first foray into the malaria field was an Honours degree in Pharmacology looking at reversing antimalarial drug resistance in vitro. He followed this with a PhD, extending his work to the in vivo environment. The research introduced drug/reverser combinations developed in the test tube to the malaria-infected mouse model, and coupled the efficacy findings to drug kinetics using LCMS techniques.
Dale won an NRF Scarce Skills Fellowship to evaluate the potential of new classes of antimalarials in conjunction with scientists in Delhi. Parallel to this, he was seconded to the fledgling H3D DMPK team in 2012 in a part-time capacity to develop LCMS methods for the Medicines for Malaria Venture project to conduct pharmacokinetic evaluations of promising new H3D-produced compounds in rats.
As H3D expanded, his role extended to assisting with in vitro efficacy and selectivity evaluations, correlating kinetic data to antimalarial efficacy studies conducted off-site in infected mice, and carrying out kinetic and dose escalation studies in rodents for novel scaffolds intended to treat tuberculosis.
Dale joined the DMPK team at H3D on a full-time basis in mid-2015.
Dr Joe Eyermann
Head of CADD | CADD
Dr. Joe Eyermann is a computational chemist with
structure-based drug design methods to drug discovery. His work has been primarily focused on the design of new anti-infectives. As an early adopter of 3D database searching for use in scaffold hopping to identify new medicinal chemistry leads, he was part of the team which designed the cyclic urea class of HIV protease inhibitors that led to two clinical candidates. His more recent work has involved the design of new treatments for serious gram-negative infections with an emphasis on developing a better understanding of the kinetics of influx and efflux across the outer membrane of gram-negative bacteria.
Dr. Eyermann earned his PhD in inorganic chemistry from Miami University in 1981 and subsequently joined the DuPont Central Research Department where he worked with the research staff for 13 years in applying computational chemistry methods to a diverse range of molecular design projects. Before joining H3-D in 2015, he spent 16 years at AstraZeneca working on the design of novel anti-bacterials, highlighted by the discovery of novel topoisomerase inhibitors which entered clinical trials. Dr. Eyermann has published 45+ peer reviewed papers and is the holder of 10 granted patents.
Dr Leslie Street
Head of Medicinal Chemistry, H3D at UCT
Dr Leslie Street has over 25 years experience as a medicinal chemist in the drug discovery industry.Read more.
During this time, Dr. Street led many projects targeting the central nervous system (CNS) and identified clinical candidates for various neurological and psychiatric disorders in both the UK and US. At the Merck Sharp and Dohme Neuroscience Research Centre in the UK, where Dr. Street spent 20 years, his group identified the drug MAXALTR for the treatment of migraines. Further, Leslie led projects targeting muscarinic, 5-HT1D and GABAA receptors, where several series of compounds were identified as clinical candidates.
Following Merck, Dr. Street spent 6 months at Renovis Biosciences in San Francisco, and then 5 years at Cortex Pharmaceuticals in Irvine, in Southern California, where he was responsible for directing the medicinal chemistry projects for CNS disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and opiate induced respiratory depression. From this research, several compounds were identified as pre-clinical candidates and a compound successfully completed early phase clinical studies.
Since April 2012, Dr Street has led the medicinal chemistry group at the Drug Discovery and Development Centre (H3D) at the University of Cape Town working on malaria and tuberculosis drug discovery projects.
Mrs Nina Lawrence
Chief Technical Officer, DMPK
Nina Lawrence obtained her BSc and BSc(Hons) degrees at the University of Cape Town
and later her MSc in analytical chemistry and wine biotechnology from Stellenbosch University. In 2007 Nina accepted a position as a forensic analyst in Toxicology at the Forensic Chemistry Laboratory in Cape Town. Moving to the UK in 2008, Nina took up a position as laboratory and QA manager at Mizkan, which included managing the day to day activities in the ISO certified food laboratories and micro laboratory. In 2009 she went back to academia, where she worked as the laboratory supervisor of the Chemical Analytical Laboratory in the Institute for Wine Biotechnology at Stellenbosch University, where she was involved with wine analysis and multiway analysis of data for prediction and correlation studies to aid in wine making and labelling. Nina has been employed by H3D since 2011 and currently manages the in vitro ADME group. She is a core project member of the H3D projects within TB and malaria and has been part of an external collaboration for the development of a new human PK and dose prediction tool. Nina recently started doing her PhD part time within TB at the University of Cape Town.
Dr Richard Gessner
Richard completed his undergraduate and postgraduate studies at the University of Cape Town.
After completing a PhD in 2008 under the supervision of Prof Kelly Chibale, Richard continued to work as a postdoctorate research fellow in Kelly Chibale’s group at UCT on a World Health Organization (WHO) funded malaria project. In 2011, he was accepted to attend a prestigious drug discovery work experience programme between the National Research Foundation (NRF), on behalf of the South African Department of Science and Technology (DST), and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) working in the fibrosis DPU at GSK, Stevenage, UK with Dr Simon MacDonald. Richard returned to UCT in 2012, and continued to work for a further two years as a postdoctorate fellow in tuberculosis drug discovery as a part of the SATRII (South African Tuberculosis Research Innovative Initiative) team under Kelly Chibale. Since taking up the position of Research Officer in 2014, at the H3-D Drug Discovery and Development Centre, UCT, he is responsible for overseeing TB drug discovery projects that involve multidisciplinary teams (biology/ADME/PK) at H3-D, UCT, with external partners and collaborators (including IDRI, Lilly, GSK, DDU and NIAID) within the Tuberculosis Drug Accelerator (TBDA – a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation initiative).
Dr Sandeep Ghorpade
Chief Research Officer, Chemistry
Sandeep Ghorpade joined H3D in September 2014 as a Chief Research Officer,
with 11+ years of drug discovery experience in the pharmaceutical industry. Sandeep worked on several lead generation programmes and a lead optimization program at AstraZeneca, India, all mostly focused on discovering new medicines for tuberculosis. Sandeep is well versed with various lead generation approaches, using target-based and whole-cell based screens and also has a keen interest in structure-based lead generation. There he published six medicinal chemistry papers and a patent based on his work in tuberculosis research. Before joining AstraZeneca, Sandeep worked at Glenmark Research Centre on diabetes projects, from which he added another patent to his credit.
Sandeep graduated in pharmaceutical sciences from the University of Mumbai and he did his Ph.D. in chemistry at the National Chemical Laboratory, India, where he worked on enantioselective chemoenzymatic synthesis of chiral molecules. He worked as a post-doctoral fellow at University of North Dakota, USA in asymmetric catalysis. Altogether, he has published eight international papers and holds three US patents and several Indian patents from his academic career.
University of Cape Town
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