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Our Team

The H3D team is dynamic, committed and global, with staff members drawn from South Africa and across the world.

Prof Kelly Chibale

Director of H3D

Kelly Chibale is the Founder and Director of H3D.

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Kelly Chibale is a full Professor of Organic Chemistry at the University of Cape Town (UCT) where he holds the Neville Isdell Chair in African-centric Drug Discovery & Development. He is also a Full Member of the UCT Institute of Infectious Disease & Molecular Medicine, a Tier 1 South Africa Research Chair in Drug Discovery, founding Director of the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) Drug Discovery & Development Research Unit at UCT and is the Chairman and CEO of the H3D Foundation. Kelly is also the Associate Editor: American Chemical Society Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.

Kelly obtained his PhD in Synthetic Organic Chemistry from the University of Cambridge in the UK (1989-1992). This was followed by postdoctoral stints at the University of Liverpool in the UK (1992-94) and at the Scripps Research Institute in the USA (1994-96). He was a Sandler Sabbatical Fellow at the University of California San Francisco (2002), a US Fulbright Senior Research Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (2008) and a Visiting Professor at Pfizer in the UK (2008).

In 2018 Kelly was recognized by Fortune magazine as one of the World's 50 Greatest Leaders and in 2019 he was named as one of the 100 Most Influential Africans by New African magazine.

Follow Kelly's Twitter account on @Kelly_Chibale.

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Med Chem

Dr André Horatscheck

Senior Investigator| Malaria Chem

Dr André Horatscheck joined the MedChem group of H3D in January 2016 as Principal Scientific Officer and is a malaria project lead since April 2018.
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He received his Diploma in 2006 from the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin after completing his thesis in bioorganic synthesis with Prof O Seitz. He then joined the Medicinal Chemistry group of Prof J Rademann at the Leibniz-Institut für Molekulare Pharmakologie (FMP) in Berlin-Buch for his PhD thesis in 2007. During this time he worked on two main projects targeting protein tyrosine phosphatases and STAT5 in close collaboration with the institute’s Screening Unit including synthesis and in vitro assays. After receiving his PhD (Dr rer nat) at the end of 2011 from the Freie Universität Berlin, he stayed on at the FMP as a Research Scientist in medicinal chemistry for the Helmholtz drug initiative that formed part of a drug development platform at the FMP collaborating closely with the Max-Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC). In 2013, the platform became part of a newly founded MedChem group with Dr M Nazaré. During this time André led projects on the investigation of halogen-pi interactions, SAR studies and development of clathrin inhibitors and PI3K inhibitors, and prodrug approaches for clathrin inhibitors.

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Dr Candice Soares de Melo

Senior Investigator | TB Chem

Candice Soares de Melo is currently a Senior Investigator and Project lead at H3D. 
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She has worked as a medicinal chemist on several TB programs, with collaborations from HIT-TB,TBDA and Celgene, focusing on hit to lead and early lead drug discovery. Dr Soares de Melo received her BsC degree in Chemistry from The University of Cape Town (2003), her Hons degree (2004) from The University of Stellenbosch and her MsC degree in Synthetic Organic Chemistry from The University of Cape Town (2006). At the end of 2006, she was awarded NWO (Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek) WOTRO fellowship to carry out her PhD at The Radboud University of Nijmegen in The Netherlands under the supervision of Professor Floris Rutjes. Her research involved the total synthesis and biological evaluation of the natural product Febrifugine and derivatives as potential antimalarial agents. After defending her PhD thesis (2010), Candice returned to Cape Town where she carried out three years as a postdoctoral medicinal chemist at H3D, working on TB drug discovery programs as part of the South African Tuberculosis Innovation Initiative (SATRII).

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Donald Seanego

Dr Donald Seanego

Post Doc | Malaria Chem

Donald received his BSc and BSc (Hons) degrees from University of South Africa (UNISA).
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In 2012, Donald took up a position at CSIR Biosciences in Pretoria. He worked on various projects aimed at a novel approach to the development of antimalarial and antitubercular compounds. In 2015, Donald completed his MSc with distinction at University of the Witwatersrand (WITS). He then completed his PhD at the same institution (WITS) under the supervision of Dr Amanda Rousseau and Prof. Charles de Koning. His PhD involved synthesis, design and biological evaluation of antimalarial agents as dual-inhibitors of Plasmodium falciparum calcium-dependent protein kinases (PfCDPK1 and PfCDPK4). Donald was involved in tutoring and demonstrating to undergraduate students studying Chemistry (1st year to 3rd year of study) at WITS.

Donald joined H3D in March 2019 as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in medicinal chemistry. He is currently working on a program aiming at the development of novel antimalarial compounds.

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Dr Dickson Mambwe

Post Doc | Chemistry

Dickson is currently a postdoctoral fellow, working on an integrated hit-to-lead (H2L) drug discovery project underpinned by synthetic organic and medicinal chemistry, to reposition previously used small molecules as well as develop privileged scaffolds for the treatment of malaria. 

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Dickson was born in Mpika, Zambia. He went to St. Clements’ Secondary School in Mansa, Zambia, where his passion for Science was carved (2007). He obtained his bachelor’s degree (B.Sc.) in Chemistry and graduated with merit from the University of Zambia in 2013. Thereafter, he worked as a Chemist in quality assurance and control for Pharmanova (Z) Ltd, one of Zambia’s leading pharmaceutical manufacturing companies. This was followed by a Senior Chemist role at SGS Zambia Ltd, in the agricultural precision farming services (PFS) laboratory. In this role, he was part of a collaborative program which included a team of soil and crop scientists at SGS South Africa, to provide Agri-analytical services and farming advice to small and large-scale farmers in Zambia. In 2017, he joined Professor Kelly Chibale’s Medicinal Chemistry research group as a master’s student (M.Sc.) at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

He is a fellow of the Novartis Next Generation Scientist Program (2018) and alumnus of the Chemical Abstract Service (CAS) Future Leaders Program (2019).
Dickson’s research interests include, among others, exploring the horizons of new technologies and platforms for accelerated drug discovery research.
Outside of chemistry, Dickson enjoys the outdoors as a plantsman, a photography enthusiast (amateur), and bike riding fanatic. He enjoys meeting and interacting with people. He’s an avid follower and listener of music, best experienced with family and friends.

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Dr Frank Zindo

Post Doc | TB Chem

Dr. Frank Zindo completed his B.Pharm from the University of the Western Cape (UWC) in 2012.  Thereafter, he began his MSc in Pharmaceutical Sciences under the supervision of Prof Jacques Joubert and Prof Sarel Malan at UWC.
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After promising early results his MSc was converted to a PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences, with a specific focus on Drug Design and Discovery. His PhD was awarded in 2019. His research involved the design, synthesis and evaluation of novel polycyclic neuroprotective analogues for the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders. From this work, Frank published six papers in high-impact accredited international scientific journals, and was awarded the Boehringer Ingelheim, Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences Best National Publication in Pharmaceutical Chemistry in 2015. In 2014, he was awarded the Boehringer Ingelheim, Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences Young Scientist of the Year Award.

During his postgraduate studies, Frank was actively involved in lecturing several Chemistry based and Pharmacy based undergraduate modules and mentoring undergraduate students at UWC.

Dr. Zindo joined H3D, University of Cape Town as a Postdoctoral Fellow in October, 2020 and is working on a project aimed at developing novel anti-tuberculosis drugs.

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Dr Grant Boyle

Senior Investigator | TB Chem

Dr. Grant Boyle received his BSc and BSc (Hons.) degrees from the then University of Natal.
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He continued with MSc and PhD degrees at the same institution which had been renamed the University of KwaZulu-Natal. These studies were carried out in the field of asymmetric catalysis under the supervision of Prof. H. G. Kruger. 
After completing his studies, Grant took up a position at iThemba Pharmaceuticals (Pty) Ltd. in June 2009. There he worked on various in-house and externally funded medchem programs in disease areas including HIV, Malaria and TB.  Grant was later involved in contract medicinal chemistry work in collaboration with the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi) in disease areas such as Leishmaniasis and Trypanosomiasis.

Grant joined H3D in November 2014 and has worked on various medicinal chemistry programs within the organization in both the TB and Malaria disease areas. In addition to his work on the medicinal chemistry programs, he is currently leading the effort to implement a new Electronic Notebook and Database system based on a solution provided by Dotmatics Inc.

Grant has authored/co-authored several peer reviewed journal articles and is named as co-inventor on one patent. He received the SASOL Postgraduate Medal in 2009 for his PhD work.

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Ms Jasmin Ferreira

Research Scientist  | TB Chem

Jasmin completed her BSc degree at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in 2013, majoring in chemistry and astrophysics, and was awarded the Merck Prize for achieving the highest results in chemistry.
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In 2014 she obtained her BSc (Hons) degree at UCT and was awarded the class medal, the James Moir Medal and the Gordon Percy Memorial Prize for her efforts.

She began her MSc in synthetic organic chemistry in 2015 under the supervision of Professor Roger Hunter at UCT. Initially, her research focused on the development of organocatalytic enantioselective hydrazination methodology and its application in a concise total synthesis of the piperidine iminosugar (+)-1,4-dideoxyallonojirimycin, published in late 2015. She then transitioned to an asymmetric total synthesis of the pentacyclic indole alkaloid (+)-tacamonine via diastereoselective radical cyclization methodology, for which she was awarded her MSc with distinction in early 2019.

Jasmin has since joined H3D as a Research Scientist working on various TB projects.

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Jean Dam

Dr. Jean Dam

Investigator | Malaria Chem

Jean joined H3D in August 2018 as Chief Scientific Officer. She obtained her BSc and BSc(Hons) with distinction in Chemistry from the University of the Witwatersrand (WITS).
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Thereafter, Jean began her MSc in Organic Chemistry under the supervision of Prof Charles de Koning and Dr Moira Bode at WITS in 2012. After promising early results this was converted to a PhD and during this time she was awarded a Carnegie Corporation funded fellowship (part of the Southern African Biochemistry and Informatics for Natural Products network). Her research involved the design and development of novel anti-cancer compounds as well as novel synthetic methodology to access naturally occurring scaffolds and her PhD was awarded in 2016. 

Jean was then awarded a two year International Postdoctoral Fellowship by the National Research Foundation to further build her synthetic skills. The research focused on complex natural product synthesis of Salvanorin A from at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio under Prof Craig Forsyth. Trading snow for sea, she is now working as an Investigator on the MMV malaria research project.

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Jessica Akester

Ms Jessica Akester

Senior Research Scientist | TB Chem

Jessica joined H3D as a Research Scientist in 2017. As a medicinal chemist, she has worked on TB and malaria projects in various phases on the drug discovery pipeline. 
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After completing her BSc and BSc (Hons) degrees in Chemistry at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in 2014, Jessica went on to pursue a MSc in medicinal chemistry under the supervision of Prof. Kelly Chibale. Her research focused on the synthesis, structure-activity relationship and solubility profiling of a potential antimycobacterial agent. This experience ignited a sense of purpose for her career and she was inspired to join the team at H3D to continue her growth in drug discovery. Additionally, Jessica is involved in many operational activities of the organisation towards contributing to the overall mission of H3D. 

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Dr John Woodland

Junior Research Fellow | Chemical Biology

John is a chemist with interdisciplinary research experience and a passionate interest in developing molecular strategies, such as treatments and tools, to tackle the scourge of infectious disease. His current role as a Junior Research Fellow involves conducting research in chemical biology and medicinal chemistry aspects of malaria and tuberculosis drug discovery. Funding for this position is provided by the Developing Emerging Academic Leaders (DEAL) programme under the auspices of the Carnegie Foundation of New York.
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John completed his doctorate in the Department of Chemistry at UCT in 2016. His thesis embraced a diverse range of experimental techniques and led to the development of chemical biology probes to investigate drug localisation and drug-protein binding in the malaria parasite. He then spent two years in the UCT Department of Molecular and Cell Biology with Professor Janet Hapgood, focusing on steroid receptors and hormonal contraceptives in the context of another devastating infectious disease, HIV. John then joined the Drug Discovery and Development Centre (H3D) for two years as a postdoctoral medicinal chemist, allowing him to continue to pursue his interests at the interface of chemistry and other disciplines by designing and synthesising potential drug leads for malaria.

John is also passionate about using his skills to promote science and to improve scientific literacy in South Africa. He remains actively involved with departmental outreach projects and the activities of the local section of the Royal Society of Chemistry. John’s other major interest is music. He directs his own choral group, VOX Cape Town, and has volunteered as a broadcaster on community station Fine Music Radio since 2006.

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Dr Kathryn Wicht  

Research Officer | Chemical Biology

Dr Kathryn Wicht received her PhD in Chemistry from the University of Cape Town in 2015.

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Her research focused on high-throughput screening (HTS) for novel antimalarial compounds targeting the hemozoin formation pathway and medicinal chemistry exploration of the hit compounds. Computational modeling of the data, pooled with publicly available HTS results, allowed for the development of Bayesian models to predict antiplasmodium activity and describe the common features of hemozoin inhibiting compounds.

Synthesis and biological testing of the derivatives provided tool compounds for further understanding of the mechanism in which hemozoin inhibitors accumulate and result in the increase of free heme in the parasite’s digestive vacuole.

In 2015, Kathryn commenced a postdoctoral research fellowship at the H3D Drug Discovery and Development Centre in Cape Town, which gave her further invaluable experience in the field of medicinal and synthetic chemistry, working to develop a late lead series for an MMV-funded project.

From 2017 to 2020, Kathryn carried out postdoctoral research in the Fidock Laboratory, at the Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. Here, she was involved in multiple projects focusing on different aspects of antimalarial drug discovery, drug resistance and genomics. This included conducting accumulation studies with radiolabeled antimalarials in resistant field isolates; carrying out resistance selection experiments with novel compounds for elucidating mechanisms of action and resistance; computational modeling of mutations in the cryo-EM solved structure of the Plasmodium falciparum chloroquine resistance transporter (PfCRT); and genetically editing African malaria parasites with drug-resistance conferring PfCRT mutations, which are present in Southeast Asia. This work showed the ability of important antimalarials to become less effective in Africa if these mutations were to arise there.

In March 2020, Kathryn rejoined UCT and H3D as a Research Officer. She aspires to support malaria research activities at UCT/H3D by utilizing her diverse skill set and experience related to antimalarial drug development and mechanism of action studies, supervising postgraduate students within the Department of Chemistry and facilitating Plasmodium genomics research in South Africa.

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Lebu Taleli

Dr Lebu Taleli

Investigator | TB Chem 

Lebu received his BSc in Chemical Technology from the National University of Lesotho, Southern Africa. He joined the Radiopharmaceuticals and Radiochemicals Research and Development Division at the iThemba LABS in Cape Town ̶ South Africa in 2006. 
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His R&D work in nuclear medicine programmes involved organic synthesis and isotopic labelling methods of SPECT radiopharmaceuticals used for clinical imaging of several tumours. The radiolabelling aspect of his work focused on the radionuclidic and radiochemical purity of 123I-mIBG. He also worked with the Biomedical Radiation Division to investigate the use of radiolabelled nucleoside analogues as potential substrates for human thymidine kinases. 

In 2010, he spent time at the CSIR Biosciences in Pretoria ̶ South Africa under the Southern Africa Network for Biosciences (SANBio-NEPAD) flagship initiative project. He was involved in isolation, bioprospecting and characterisation of natural product medicines used to treat HIV/AIDS and/or opportunistic infections. 
In 2012, he returned to Cape Town to pursued MSc and PhD at the Stellenbosch University. His PhD focused on the synthesis of polymer-bound kinase inhibitors as anti-tumour agents. He completed his PhD in Dec 2017 under a joined supervision of Prof Bert Klumperman and Prof Willem van Otterlo. Lebu joined H3D in 2018 as a postdoctoral research fellow and is now working as an investigator in TB medicinal chemistry. 

Lutete Peguy Khonde

Dr Lutete Peguy Khonde

Investigator | TB Chem

Dr. Lutete Peguy Khonde obtained his BSc and BSc (Hons) with distinction from the University of Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of Congo) in 2008.

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Thereafter he worked as a lab assistant and Waste Water Plant supervisor in Heineken Brewery (Kinshasa, DRC) for 2 years. His passion for research brought him to the University of Cape Town where he successfully completed his MSc degree in chemistry in June 2013. He then pursued his PhD studies at the same institution under the supervision of Dr Anwar Jardine. His research entailed the total synthesis of natural thiohistidines (ergothioneine and ovothiols) and metabolic intermediates involved in their biosynthetic pathway as potential antibacterial agents. The intellectual property of this research has been captured in a patent (Lutete named as co-inventor) and publications in peer-reviewed journals.

During his MSc and PhD studies, he was actively involved in teaching and mentoring undergraduate students across UCT. Besides being a chemistry tutor, he served as a numeracy centre tutor (CHAD department) at UCT (2015-2016).

He joined H3D in February 2017. He is currently working on various TB programs.

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Dr Aloysius Nchinda

Senior Investigator | TB Chem

Aloysius T. Nchinda, Ph.D. is a Senior Investigator at H3-D
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Drug Discovery and Development Centre at the University of Cape Town focused on Medicinal Chemistry, Hit-to-Lead and Lead Optimisation of Antimalarial and Anti-Tubercular agents. Nchinda received his Ph.D. degree in Chemistry from Rhodes University in South Africa and in April 2002 he pursued postdoctoral studies at the University of Cape Town. In 2005, Nchinda accepted a Research and Development Chemist position at Fine Chemical Corporation in Epping, Cape Town where he led the process chemistry team, which resulted in the development of two new commercial APIs in the company’s product portfolio.

In late 2009, Nchinda moved to the University of Cape Town as a Chief Scientific Officer in Professor Kelly Chibale’s research group in the Department of Chemistry. In addition to serving as the laboratory manager, Nchinda also served as Project Coordinator. He is also a member of the Royal Society of South Africa and the South African Chemical Institute. Nchinda is a co-inventor of 2 patents and was part of the project team that discovered the first ever preclinical candidate (MMV390048) to come from Africa as a single dose cure for malaria.

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Preshendren Govender

Dr Preshendren Govender

 Senior Investigator | Malaria Chem

Preshendren Govender obtained his BSc in 2007, after which he completed his BSc(Hons) in 2008 at the University of Cape Town (UCT).
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His  post-graduate career continued thereafter by completing a MSc in 2010 (cum laude) and a PhD in chemistry in 2014, in bioorganometallic chemistry, both at UCT. He has a strong publication record and was awarded a UCT Research Associateship in Science in 2013. He has successfully co-supervised a masters student at UCT, who graduated cum laude in 2016, and in 2015 lectured undergraduate students in the Department of Chemistry at UCT."

He completed a two-year post-doctoral position at UCT in the Department of Chemistry, investigating aspects of homogeneous catalysis, primarily focusing on hydroformylation of long-chained alkenes. His interest in drug discovery came about after a 3-year post-doctoral position at H3D, with research focusing in the development and evaluation of compounds against mycobacterium tuberculosis. More recently, in July 2018, Preshendren took up a position as a Senior Investigator at H3D and is current leading a project in one of the malaria programs. His research focusses on Medicinal Chemistry, Hit-to-Lead and Early Lead Optimisation of antimalarial and anti-tuberculosis agents.

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Dr Mmakwena Mmonwa 

Post Doc | Chemistry

Mmakwena is a postdoctoral research fellow in H3D chemistry division, having joined in March 2021

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His research focus is on the formal hit assessments and medicinal chemistry optimisations towards delivering antimalarial leads. Mmakwena obtained BSc degree and BSc honours (Chemistry) from University of Limpopo (UL). In the year 2011 he joined Limpopo Agro-Food Technology Station in UL as a chemistry intern until 2012 where he was involved in projects of food products nutritional information analysis, food product developments as well as training of SMMEs on agro-processing.


He then joined Prof. M.J. Mphahlele’s research group in University of South Africa (UNISA) from 2013 to 2019 where he completed his MSc and PhD. Mmakwena’s PhD project focused on design, synthesis and biological evaluation of novel nitrogen based heterocyclic compounds as potential anticancer agents. During his period with UNISA, Mmakwena provided tuition support to the UNISA chemistry department in the form of undergraduate practical demonstration and supervision as well as marking of assignments and practical reports. He was also involved in conceptualisation of research projects for honours research methodology module. He also served as a member of the Department of Chemistry Postgraduate Committee as well South African Chemical Institute (SACI) student representative on behalf of UNISA.


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Dr Robin Klintworth

Post Doc | TB Chem

Robin received his BSc and BSc (Hons) degrees with distinction from the university of the Witwatersrand (WITS). He graduated honours top of his class, earning him a DOW award medal. 
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In 2020 he completed his PhD at the same institution (WITS) under the supervision of Prof. Joseph Michael and Prof. Charles De Koning. His PhD involved the total synthesis of the lamellarin alkaloids and other related heterocycles. During this time he authored 3 publications in high-impact international organic synthesis journals. He is the first author and only contributing student on all of these works. Robin has also been involved in lecturing, tutoring and demonstrating to both undergraduate and postgraduate science students at WITS. He joined H3D in September 2021 as part of the TB Chemistry team.

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Dr Rudy Cozett 

Research Scientist | TB Chem

Rudy joined H3D as a Research Scientist in September 2020.

Prior to H3D, Rudy worked at The Biovac Institute as a Conjugation Intern. As part of the Conjugation team, he was involved in the synthesis and purification of glycoconjugate vaccines against Group B Streptococcus.
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Prior to that Rudy spent two years as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Surgery, at the University of Cape Town, with Associate Professor Deon Bezuidenhout; focusing on growth factor-PEG hydrogel interactions, and dendrimer modification for siRNA delivery. Rudy has a BSc(Hons) in Chemistry and a PhD in synthetic organic chemistry –  which focused on asymmetric nucleophilic organocatalysis –  under the supervision of Professor Roger Hunter from the University of Cape Town (2015).

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Dr Richard Gessner

Senior Investigator | Malaria Chem

After completing a PhD in 2008 under the supervision of Prof Kelly Chibale, Richard continued to do two years of post-doctorate research in malaria drug discovery on a WHO collaboration project under the supervision of Chibale at the University of Cape Town.

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 In 2011, he was awarded a prestigious industrial postdoc placement at GlaxoSmithKline, Stevenage, UK, where he worked on medicinal chemistry projects in respiratory therapeutics with Dr Simon MacDonald. Richard returned to UCT in 2012, and continued to work for a further two years as a post doctorate fellow in tuberculosis drug discovery as a part of the SATRII (South African Tuberculosis Research Innovative Initiative) team under Chibale. Since taking up the position at the H3D, UCT, in 2014, Richard has been responsible for overseeing TB and malaria drug discovery projects that involve multidisciplinary teams (chemistry/biology/ADME/PK) at H3D/UCT, with external partners and collaborators (including IDRI, Lilly, GSK, DDU, NIAID) within the Tuberculosis Drug Accelerator (TBDA – a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation initiative) and Celgene Global Health (acquired by Bristol-Myers Squibb in 2019).  Furthermore, he has played a major role in implementing research project management (Jan 2017 to present) across H3D, after a 10-week management training sabbatical at the end of 2016 at Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research (NIBR) in Cambridge, MA, USA.

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Dr Sandeep Ghorpade

Principal Investigator, Medicinal Chemistry

Sandeep Ghorpade joined H3D in September 2014 as a Chief Research Officer. He is leading H3D TB portfolio since 2015 and has recently taken up responsibility of leading a hit-to-lead program for malaria.

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With 11+ years of drug discovery experience in the pharmaceutical industry, Sandeep worked on several lead generation and lead optimization programs at AstraZeneca, India focused on discovering new medicines for TB. Sandeep is well versed with various lead generation approaches, using target-based and whole-cell based screens and has a keen interest in structure-based lead generation. He published six medicinal chemistry papers and a patent based on his work in TB drug discovery research at AstraZeneca. Before joining AstraZeneca, Sandeep worked at Glenmark Research Centre on diabetes projects, from which he added another patent to his credit.

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Sauvik Samanta

Dr. Sauvik Samanta

Post Doc | TB Chem

Dr Sauvik Samanta completed his B.Sc. (Chemistry Honours) and M.Sc. (Organic Chemistry) from Jadavpur University, India in 2005 and 2007, respectively.
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Before joining Ph.D, he worked as a technical trainee at the CPS (Custom Pharmaceutical Services) unit of Dr. Reddy’s Laboratory Ltd, Hyderabad, India for a short period of time (August - October, 2007). He received his Doctoral Degree in 2014 from the Department of Chemistry, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, India. His Ph.D research work was on Stereoselective syntheses of cyclohexenone, tetrahydropyrone and morpholinone derivatives via via organocatalytic domino reaction and enolate-dianion chemistry. Dr. Samanta was involved in a postdoctoral research (November 2014 - September 2015) at the Faculty of Chemistry, University of Warsaw, Poland as an Erasmus Mundus Postdoctoral fellow, where he worked on asymmetric synthesis of pyridine atropisomers via Suzuki reaction. Then, he joined as a Project Scientist to the Department of Chemistry, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, India (October 2015 - April 2016) where his research topic was Imino-aldol and aldol reaction of morpholinones via Memory of Chirality (MOC). After that, he worked at the Department of Chemistry, University of Cape Town as a Claude Leon Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow (May 2016 – April 2018) on new methodology for aza-quaternary synthesis to Biotechnology and Medicinal Chemistry library Synthesis.

Dr. Samanta joined H3D, University of Cape Town as a Postdoctoral Fellow in July, 2018 and is working with the Celgene team to develop novel anti-tuberculosis drugs.

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Dr Peter Wanyama

Post Doc | Chemistry

Dr. Wanyama holds a BSc in industrial chemistry and an MSc in chemistry from the University of Nairobi, Kenya. His MSc project that was supervised by Prof Abiy Yenesew and Dr. Faith Okalebo focussed on natural product chemistry which resulted led to a new terpurin flavone that showed an antiplasmodial activity.
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It is after MSc, that he worked as a part-time chemistry lecturer at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa. Thereafter, he joined the Kenya Sugar Research Foundation (KESREF) where he was involved in administrative duties and undertook research in the area of sugar extraction and processing. It was after KESREF that Dr. Wanyama enrolled for a Ph.D. at the University of the Witwatersrand under the supervision of Dr. Moira Bode and Prof. Dean Brady. His Ph.D. research involved the use of chemicals and biocatalysts to synthesize useful intermediates required for further functionalisation. It is during his Ph.D. that he also worked as a part-time chemistry lecturer at the same University, and later worked as a chemistry teacher at Almer Mater international school. Dr. Wanyama completed his Ph.D. in 2019 and immediately joined the University of Johannesburg as a postdoctoral researcher. Dr. Wanyama joined H3D in February 2021 with his research focusing on developing anti-TB compounds.

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Dr Greg Basarab 

Head of DMPK, Biosciences and Medicinal Chemistry

Greg Basarab has an appointment as a Principal Research Officer and Associate Director at UCT and the affiliated H3D where he heads efforts directed towards the eradication of resistant infectious diseases.

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Previously, Dr. Basarab led multi-disciplinary drug discovery teams at AstraZeneca working on the design of novel mode-of-action antibacterials, efforts that led to three drug candidates entering human clinical trials including two currently in Phase 3. Previous to that, he worked at DuPont where he led projects in three departments: Central Research & Development, Biochemicals and Agricultural Products working in the antifungal arena and in automated chemical synthesis. He received a B.S. in Chemistry from the Pennsylvania State University and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Liezl Gibhard

Dr Liezl Gibhard

Senior Investigator | PK and NSG mouse model for malaria

Dr Liezl Gibhard is a research professional with experience in biochemistry across platforms in research, development and scientific analysis.
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She received her BSc (Hons.) and MSc degrees from the North-West University. She then continued with her PhD in Pharmaceutics at the same institution, carried out in the fields of malaria and nanomedicines. After completion of her studies, Liezl took up a post-doctoral position in the Division of Clinical Pharmacology at the University of Cape Town. Liezl received an NRF Innovation Fellowship to evaluate the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of novel antimalarial compounds administered alone and in dual combinations with artemisinins and derivatives thereof in in rodent models. Liezl joined the DMPK team at H3D on a permanent basis in mid-2015.

As H3D expanded her role expanded to establish and validate the NSG mouse model for malaria.  This model is used to correlate pharmacokinetics with pharmacodynamic readouts and optimization of dosing regimens for novel antimalarial compounds.

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Dr Mathew Njoroge

Senior Investigator | DMPK

Dr. Mathew Njoroge received his B.Pharm degree from the University of Nairobi in 2008
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and proceeded to do his PhD in Chemistry with Prof. Kelly Chibale at the University of Cape Town. His thesis focussed on the metabolism of novel antiplasmodial and antimycobacterial agents. Mathew spent three years as a postdoctoral research fellow at UCT where he was part of drug discovery teams in malaria and tuberculosis.  Mathew has recently been appointed as Senior Investigator in the ADME team.

Mathew has authored/co-authored more than 10 peer-reviewed journal articles.

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Dr Mwila Mulubwa

Post Doc Fellow | ADME

Mwila is a pharmacist by profession and received his B.Pharm degree from The University of Zambia in 2008.
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Thereafter, he practised as a pharmacist. He pursued a career in pharmacology at North-West University, where he investigated the effect of tenofovir plasma exposure on renal function and bone metabolism and completed MSc in 2014.

He then continued with PhD in pharmacology at the University of the Western Cape, which he completed in 2019. He received the NRF Innovation Doctoral Scholarship. His thesis focused on the modelling of population pharmacokinetics of terizidone and its metabolite cycloserine in patients with drug-resistant tuberculosis.

Mwila has authored and co-authored more than 10 publications in peer-reviewed journals. He joined DMPK team at H3D in August 2019 as a postdoctoral research fellow.

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Ms Nesia Barnes

Senior Research Scientist | ADME

Nesia Barnes received National Diploma in Analytical Chemistry at CPUT.
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She then did her Btech in Quality at the same institution. Nesia worked for Much Asphalt a division of Murray and Roberts as a Laboratory Technician and asphalt mix designer. In 2008 she took up a position as a Laboratory Analyst at Fine Chemical Corporation and in so gained valuable experience working with in-process, raw materials, finished products and narcotics. While working there she developed a love for quality management, and was often helping out the QA Manager with in-house audits, documentation, preparing laboratory for internal and external audits.

In June 2011 Nesia joined the ADME team as a Senior Technical Officer and she is responsible for the analytical work of the ADME assays. Nesia is also responsible for training junior, new staff & Postgrad students on routine & new assays. She ensures that ADME assays are done timeously, Good Laboratory Practices are kept at all times and that assays are done properly.

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Ronald Olckers

Mr Ronald Olckers

Senior Research Scientist | ADME

Ronald obtained his B.Sc and B.Sc(Hons) degrees at the University of the Free State. 

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Originally and with remarkable zeal he studied plant genetics. He started his career in Pharmacology during his last year of study at PAREXEL’s Bioanalytical Services Division in Bloemfontein. He engaged in various analytical bio-equivalence and phase 3 clinical trial studies. Developing and validating analytical methods on LC-MS/MS.
Ronald joined the Division of Pharmacology at the University of Cape Town in 2015 as a Senior Scientific Officer. Further specializing in the analysis of TB, ARVs and anti-malarials. Then at the start of 2019, he joined the ADME DMPK group at H3D as a Senior Research Scientist.

Ronald enjoys deep scientific discussions with his cat.

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Mr Warren Olifant

Senior Research Scientst| ADME

Warren Olifant received his BSc from the University of the Western Cape in 2010,
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and his BSc (Hons.) degree from the University of Stellenbosch in 2012. Before the completion of his Hons degree in 2012 he took up a position as a laboratory assistant and in so gained some valuable working experience at the University of Stellenbosch working with respected doctors and professors, assisting with various ongoing projects in field of tissue culture and western blotting which spanned for a year. Warren was later involved in research projects , which involved the modulating effects of maternal exposure to nicotine and supplementation with Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) in the offspring in 2011 at the University of Stellenbosch that was based at the Tygerberg campus. In August 2013 Warren joined the ADME group H3D as a technical officer and he spends time making sure that routine work is carried out timeously.

He has future aspirations within UCT and is always looking to grow and learn in order to benefit the company and himself.

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Zama Ngqumba

Ms Zama Ngqumba

Senior Research Scientist | DMPK

Zama Ngqumba is an Analytical Chemist with a background in Chromatography.
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Her career started in 2012, as an intern at DST-NRF working under numerous projects as a lab technician.
She joined then joined ARC Infrutec/Nietvoorbij campus where she gained extensive training on the HPLC-DAD and other analytical instruments. During this time, she took interest in the chemistry of her work and enrolled for an MTech degree: Chemistry at CPUT. In 2018 she joined the DMPK group at H3D as a Senior Research Scientist where she provides technical and scientific support to the preclinical team.

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Dr Dale Taylor

Chief Investigator | Parasitology

Dale is a cell biologist by trade, with a background in biochemistry and microbial genetics.
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He has more than 20 years’ experience in the field of in vitro and in vivo malaria research, with interests in antimalarial drug resistance, pharmacokinetics (PK) and new drug discovery. Dale has been involved with H3D since 2012, when he was seconded to the team at UCT Pharmacology as a post-doctoral research fellow assisting H3D with their in vivo PK studies which had just begun at UCT. He joined H3D full time in 2015, and lead the in vivo PK team and the parasitology team from mid-2016 until the end of 2019. 

Currently Dale oversees the daily running of the malaria biology platform, and co-leads the Malaria Core Team at H3D. He is responsible for managing all facets of the routine screening and the in vivo efficacy teams, and representing malaria biology as a whole at Operations level.

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Vinayak Singh

Dr Vinayak Singh

 Senior Research Officer | TB and AMR Biology

Vinayak (MSc-Biotechnology, PhD-Biochemistry) is an exceptionally skilled experimental biologist with >15 years of extensive drug discovery research experience.
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He has outstanding knowledge of the field of Microbiology, and of the related fields of Biochemistry as well as Microbial Genetics, Genomics and Physiology, especially as they apply to tuberculosis. Vinayak’s exceptional skills as a microbiologist with high-level expertise in antimicrobial drug discovery and development began from his experience at the CSIR-Central Drug Research Institute in Lucknow, India, where he completed a PhD degree in Biochemistry. Next, he joined the University of Cape Town (UCT) where he completed a very successful postdoctoral fellowship (2011-2016) in the eminent lab of Prof. Valerie Mizrahi. He was solely responsible for the experimental work conducted under the auspices of the More Medicines for Tuberculosis (MM4TB) consortium, a drug discovery consortium led by Prof. Stewart Cole, comprising groups from 25 institutions from Europe, India, the USA and South Africa, funded by the European Union under the Seventh Framework Programme. He served as the lead researcher on studies that have been published in top international journals. Importantly, he has identified and validated >15 novel tuberculosis drug targets which have attracted significant interest in the global tuberculosis research community. His work is defined by the characteristics of scientific excellence and rigour as evidenced by his publications and awards.

He joined the H3D in 2017. Being an artist of Molecular networks, Genomics and Metabolomics, his main interest at H3D is to deconvolute mechanism of action of potential compounds - to fulfil a broad and acute interest in the discovery of new innovative drugs.
ORCID ID: 0000-0001-9002-2489

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Andani Mulelu

Dr Andani Mulelu 

Research Scientist | Enzymology

Andani is a biochemist and structural biologist who obtained his PhD in medical biochemistry at the University of Cape Town in 2017. 

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His PhD research, under the supervision of Prof Trevor Sewell, focused on the structural and biochemical characterisation of nitrilase enzymes.

After his PhD he took up a position as a Synchrotron Techniques for African Research and Technology (START) postdoctoral research fellow at the Division of Medical Biochemistry and Structural Biology in the faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Cape Town. His postdoctoral research under the supervision of Dr Jeremy Woodward focused on the characterisation of large mycobacterial macromolecular complexes and nitrilases using biochemical methods and cryo-electron microscopy. During his PhD and postdoctoral fellowship Andani gained expertise in recombinant protein expression, protein purification and structural biology particularly Cryo-Electron microscopy (Cryo-EM).

In April 2019 Andani took up a position as a Research Scientist at H3D. Dr Mulelu is responsible for providing scientific and technical support in protein expression and purification, structural biology and running biochemical assays to increase the capacity of the Malaria and Tuberculosis (TB) target based drug discovery programs at H3D.

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Dr Amanda Mabhula

Post Doc | TB Biology

Amanda Mabhula is a postdoctoral research fellow working under the supervision of Prof. Kelly Chibale on a project investigating the role of microbiome in drug metabolism and on various other projects in TB drug discovery.

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She recently finished her PhD, in which her thesis utilized a multi-disciplinary approach to develop a macrophage infection model to predict the ability of experimental anti-bacterial drugs to penetrate infected cells and determined the extent to which intracellular concentrations translated into effective killing of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Amanda holds a BSc (cum laude) from the University of Fort Hare, BSc Honours (Chemistry with distinction) from Rhodes University and MMedSc (Medical Microbiology cum laude) from UKZN.

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Dr Carel Oosthuizen

Investigator | AMR Biology

Carel is a biologist with a background in ethnopharmacology and mycobacteriology.

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He completed his PhD at the University of Pretoria under the supervision of Prof Namrita Lall, investigating the antimycobacterial and quorum quenching potential of quinoline derivatives. Carel has ample experience in the field of phytochemistry, biochemistry, microbiology, enzymology and computational biology, with a special interest in mycobacterial biofilm inhibition. During his studies, Carel was invited as a visiting scientist to the University of Albany, New York, and the University of East Anglia, UK, where he investigated the inhibition of Mycobacterial biofilms and gained insights into the kinetics of mycothione reductase inhibitors, respectively. During his postdoc, Carel worked on discovering quorum quenching inhibitors and developing new assays for screening purposes. Carel has a passion for education and has mentored and supervised several postgraduate students at honours and Masters level. Carel joined H3D as an AMR investigator to establish and elaborate on the capabilities of the platform and enhance the overall impact of drug discovery efforts in the field of antimicrobial resistance

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Dr Devasha Redhi

Post Doc | Malaria Biology

Devasha joined H3D as a postdoctoral fellow in 2021.  She received her BMedSci(Hons) and PhD in Clinical Pharmacology from the University of Cape Town.

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 In 2017, Devasha upgraded her MSc to a PhD, which focused on evaluating the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of a novel series of antimalarial compounds and their metabolites.  She was awarded the NRF Scarce Skills Scholarship for her master’s and doctoral degrees.   

Still within the space of malaria, Devasha’s current research is aimed at generating and utilising in vitro and in vivo data for human dose prediction studies. 

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Dr Koketso Mogwera 

Post Doc | Malaria

Koketso S.P Mogwera is a Postdoctoral Research fellow in the biology division of H3D. She works on structure-based design of novel antimalarial agents.

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The project entails application of mechanistic enzymology and structural biology principles to investigate a class of kinases from Plasmodium falciparum as potential targets for the development of antimalarials. Koketso obtained her Master’s in Science (MSc.) in Biochemistry from the University of Johannesburg in 2015. Her MSc. dissertation focused on the secondary structure determination of N-terminal domains of human linker histones. She obtained a PhD in Biochemistry from Stellenbosch University where she was introduced to the world of membrane biophysics. Her PhD thesis focused on membrane permeability and transport studies of Coenzyme A, its precursors and metabolites. Koketso has always had a passion for drug discovery research, and she identifies with H3D’s mission to discover and develop innovative, lifesaving medicines for communicable diseases that predominantly affect African patients. Koketso is excited about her work at H3D as she gets to contribute insights that can aid efforts to combat Malaria – A tropical disease that disproportionately affects the African continent.

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Lauren Arendse

Dr Lauren Arendse 

FLAIR Research Fellow | Target-based malaria drug discovery

Lauren completed her PhD in medical biochemistry under the supervision of Prof. Jonathan Blackburn at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in 2014.

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During her PhD she spent a year as a visiting Commonwealth PhD Scholar in Prof. Tom Blundell’s biocomputing group at the University of Cambridge in the UK, where she gained valuable experience in protein modelling. Following her PhD, she completed four years of postdoctoral research with Prof. Kelly Chibale and Prof. Edward Sturrock at UCT. During her doctoral and postdoctoral studies, she worked on a variety of enzyme systems including human cytochrome P450 enzymes, human zinc metallopeptidases and protein and lipid kinases, gaining expertise in recombinant protein expression, enzymology, assay development and structure-based drug design. 

In April 2019 Lauren joined H3D as a Research Officer to establish the enzymology and structural biology components of a Plasmodium kinase platform for target-based malaria drug discovery. In May 2020 she was awarded a Future Leaders – African Independent Research (FLAIR) Fellowship to expand her work on Plasmodium kinases.  The FLAIR Fellowship Programme is a partnership between the African Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society funded by the UK Government’s Global Challenges Research Fund.  Lauren also plays a role in student mentorship and supervision within the Department of Chemistry. 

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Dr Nicole Cardoso

Senior Research Scientist | TB Biology

Nicole is a molecular/micro- biologist with several years of experience in mycobacterial research.
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She obtained her PhD from the University of the Witwatersrand in 2018, under the supervision of Professor Bavesh Kana, at the Centre of Excellence for Biomedical TB Research (CBTBR). Her research focused on the electron transport chain to identify novel drug targets and specifically investigate the role of the cytochrome bd oxidase in adaptation to stress, growth and survival of mycobacteria. During her PhD, Nicole spent time in Singapore at the Nanyang Technological University with Professor Kevin Pethe, to further develop her skills and learn new methodology related to the electron transport chain/respiration in mycobacteria. She remained at the CBTBR for a Postdoctoral Fellowship and continued her research on respiration and nitrogen metabolism. She has lectured Honour’s students and been involved in the training of postgraduate students. She has presented her work at numerous local and international conferences.

Dr Cardoso joined the H3D TB Biology team as a Senior Research Scientist in March 2020. She is involved in the different TB drug discovery screening projects and determining the mechanism of action of promising compounds.

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Dr Nashied Peton

Investigator | TB Biology

Nashied is a Molecular Biologist and HPCSA-accredited Medical Scientist.

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He has several years of research experience in infectious disease immunology with a specific focus on host-directed therapies for Tuberculosis and HIV-1 infection. He obtained my PhD in Molecular Biology in 2013 under the mentorship of Professor Jonathan Blackburn in the Department of Integrated Biomedical Sciences at the University of Cape Town. The PhD focused on the development of an activity-based protein profiling array-based assay for the quantitative analysis of kinase inhibitor selectivity. Following his PhD, Nashied joined the Plant Molecular Physiology research group as a postdoctoral researcher focusing on understanding the physiology of a species of desiccation tolerant plants called Xerophyta Viscosa. In 2015, he joined the Wellcome Centre for Clinical Infectious Diseases Research in Africa (CIDRI-Africa) after being awarded a 1-year training fellowship by the Carnegie Corporation in 2015 where he began training as an infectious disease immunologist under the supervision and mentorship of Professor Robert John Wilkinson and Honorary Associate Professor Anna Kathleen Coussens. In 2016, he became the recipient of a Royal Society training grant where he spent a few months at the Francis Crick Institute in London learning aspects of gene silencing in primary human macrophages. In 2017 , he became the recipient of a prestigious Carnegie Corporation early career fellowship at CIDRI-Africa, and in 2018 was awarded an Australia Awards Africa Fellowship where he spent a further 2 years at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute for Medical Research in Melbourne, Australia, conducting research in host-pathogen interactions with a focus on Tuberculosis and HIV-1 infection. He has several years of under- and -postgraduate supervision and training experience and possess extensive Biosafety Level 3 laboratory experience, both locally and internationally.

Nashied joined the H3D TB Biology team as an Investigator in April 2021, where he is involved in a number of TB drug discovery screening projects as well as determining the mechanism of action of promising compounds.

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Mrs Sumaya Salie

Research Scientist | Parasitology

She was trained in tissue culture techniques.
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Sumaya is responsible for the daily running of the tissue culture.

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Dr Shama Khan 

Post Doc | AMR Biology

Dr Khan is a computational chemist/molecular biologist with several years of research experience in drug discovery.
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She obtained her PhD degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry from University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, Durban, South Africa in 2018 under the supervision of Prof Mahmoud Soliman. During her PhD, she investigated the reversible and irreversible mechanism of ERK2 protein using various molecular modelling approaches.Dr Khan, worked as a project assistant for almost two years (2014-2016) at Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Basic Sciences, Jami Millia Islamia University, New Delhi, India after obtaining her master’s degree (2013) from the same university. There, she gained expertise on numerous molecular biology techniques particularly, cloning, expression and purification of kinases.

After finishing her PhD, Dr Khan joined University of the Witwatersrand as a postdoctoral fellow from 2019-2020 where she developed her skills in the field of Microbiology. She was also involved in lecturing and course work assessment of honors student within the department.

Dr Khan has also received a prestigious NRF Innovation postdoctoral award for two years (2021-2022) to continue her research in the area of drug discovery. She has joined H3D in January 2021 to work as AMR postdoctoral fellow specifically on ESKAPE pathogens.

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Tando Ntsabo

Ms Tandokazi Ntsabo

Senior Research Scientist | TB Biology

Tandokazi Ntsabo completed her BTech degree in Biotechnology from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology in 2012, majoring in Biochemistry and Microbiology.
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She then obtained a BTech degree in Quality from the same university in 2016. As a Laboratory Technologist she has been involved in various studies pertaining to TB drug trials.  She has extensive BSL 2 and BSL 3 laboratory experience. She later joined Desmond Tutu TB Centre at Stellenbosch University as a Senior Laboratory Technologist where she was involved in a clinical research project - Population Effects of Antiretroviral Therapy to Reduce HIV Transmission (HPTN 071 PopART study) one of the largest HIV trials in the world. She looks forward to utilize her knowledge, skills, and abilities at H3D and gain exposure to upcoming technologies while being resourceful, innovative and flexible.


Mr Virgil Verhoog

Research Scientist | Parasitology

Virgil has been working in the division of Clinical Pharmacology for 4 years.
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He was trained in-house in tissue culture techniques. Virgil is responsible for in vitro antiplasmodial and cytotoxicity testing as well as maintenance of various laboratories. He is a research scientist in the H3D team.

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Vuyelwa Stuurman

Ms Vuyelwa Stuurman

Laboratory Assistant | Parasitology

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Dr Stephen Fienberg

Post Doc | CADD

Dr Stephen Fienberg received his BSc (Hons) in chemistry from the University of Cape Town in 2011. In 2012 he started an MSc under the supervision of Prof Kelly Chibale in the field of Computer Aided Drug Discovery (CADD).
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He upgraded to a PhD the following year with Prof Edward Sturrock joining his project as a co-supervisor. His PhD explored a structure based CADD approach to optimise Angiotensin Converting Enzyme (ACE) inhibitors. In 2013 he undertook a fellowship at the Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research (NIBR) in Cambridge Massachusetts where he acquired experience in molecular dynamics (MD). He graduated with a PhD in 2017 and commenced a Post-Doctoral Fellowship with H3D in 2018.

He is currently involved in joint collaborations with both H3D malaria and TB teams providing structure based CADD modelling services to various active drug discovery projects.

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Dr Jason Hlozek

Post Doc | AI/ML Drug Discovery

Jason Hlozek obtained his B.Sc. in Chemistry and Computer Science from the University of Cape Town (UCT) in 2014, followed by a B.Sc. Honours in Computer Science in 2015.

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He then joined the Bioanalytical and Vaccine Research Group from 2016 to 2020, where he obtained his PhD in Chemistry under the supervision of Prof. Neil Ravenscroft (Chemistry) and co-supervision of Prof. Michelle Kuttel (Chemistry). His PhD work focused on the computational modelling of bacterial carbohydrate antigens to advance the understanding of vaccine cross-protection phenomena to promote the rational design of optimal multivalent vaccines. He has authored several publications on the conformational analysis of polysaccharides corresponding to strains of Neisseria meningitidis and Shigella flexneri, pathogenic bacteria that predominantly burden low-income settings.  

Jason is passionate about interdisciplinary research and work that will make a positive and tangible impact on society. In May 2021, he joined the Kelly Chibale academic group and H3D as a postdoctoral research fellow, pursuing research in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) with the application of accelerating drug discovery and development.  

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Operation and PM

Dr Susan Winks

Head of Research Operations and Business Development

Dr Susan Winks is currently employed as the Head of Research Operations and Business Development at H3D and manages the team of professional staff that support the interdisciplinary drug discovery work at H3D.
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Susan Winks obtained her BSc and BSc (Hons) degrees, both with distinction, at the University of Cape Town. She came top of her class for honours, winning herself the James Mohr Medal and was subsequently awarded the Andrew Mellon Scholarship to complete her PhD at the University of the Witwatersrand under the supervision of Prof. Jo Michael. During this time, she also worked as a Teaching Assistant, lecturing and tutoring chemistry to undergraduate students.

In 2010 Susan was appointed 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 became the team leader for various infectious disease drug discovery projects. During this time, Susan decided to pursue a part-time MBA through the Management College of South Africa, which she was subsequently awarded in 2014.

In August 2013, Susan was appointed as a Research Officer at H3D Drug Discovery and Development Centre, working as a lead chemist for a tuberculosis drug discovery project. The centre was at the start of its growth phase and Susan took the opportunity to get involved in establishing operations and project management systems to support the science. This included facilitating an organisational restructure to a Matrix-based structure to support interdisciplinary teamwork, design and implementation of a new strategic Human Resource system for the centre and improving data management systems, lab management systems and project management practices.

In 2019, Susan took up the position of Head of Research Operations and Business Development at H3D. Her role includes ensuring operational continuity and sustainable growth by long-term strategic planning, management of partnerships and stakeholders, fundraising and renewal of funding agreements, management of internal governance structures and portfolio oversight.

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Ms Alacia Armstrong

Research Project and Operations Manager

Alacia completed her Masters degree (Biotechnology) at the University of the Western Cape in 2014 focussing on the temporal and spatial dynamics of microbial communities in the Namib Desert.
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A year later, Alacia started a new educational journey in Technology Management at the University of Pretoria, receiving a MSc (with distinction) in 2016. Her research focused on understanding decision-making that enhanced grit among intrapreneurs in South African technology companies.

Alacia worked in the Centre for Microbial Ecology and Genomics, University of Pretoria from 2015 to 2018 as the Senior Technical Officer. In mid 2018, Alacia joined the Global Change Institute, University of Witwatersrand as a Project Coordinator. Here, she managed the Pan-African College on Sustainable Cities, a virtual network spanning across 5 institutes.

She joined the H3D in September 2019 as the Research Project and Ops Manager, bringing with her full-cycle project management, financial management, event planning and marketing experience. Alacia will be supporting interdisciplinary translational research teams at the H3D.

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Amina Sayed

Ms Amina Sayed

Senior Technical Officer  

Amina is responsible for the analytical instrumentation in the chemistry laboratories

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Deidre van Rooyen

Ms Deidre van Rooyen

Laboratory Administrator

Deidre completed her undergraduate degree in Biotechnology at the University of the Western Cape (2010).
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In 2011 she obtained her Honours degree in Biotechnology, majoring in Proteomics. She joined the Centre for Proteomic and Genomic Research (CPGR) as part of the DST/NRF Internship Program in 2012 and worked as a team member on a major oncogene project.

In 2014 she accepted a Research Technician position at the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), where she spent 2 years managing the Cancer Genomics lab.

Deidre joined H3D in January 2016 and her roles currently include procurement, sample management and laboratory administration.

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Mrs Ayesha Banderker CA (SA)

Finance and Administration Manager | Admin

Ayesha Banderker manages and enables the financial, systems, policy and administrative framework within which H3D is able to function optimally. 
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The position provides appropriate financial management and support services to the Director and general staff within the Centre in accordance with University requirements, policy and procedures. The position also  ensures adherence to statutory requirements, assess risk and strives for operational efficiencies across the entire unit. She has been operating in the finance position for 7 years, setting up organisational systems and working to support the Centre. 

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Mrs Elaine Rutherfoord-Jones

Admin Officer | Admin

Elaine is one of the longest serving staff members in H3D, having begun to assist Kelly Chibale in 2008, before the launch of the Centre in 2010. 

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Prior to this, she had experience in teaching, administration and committee work, all of which has been useful in adapting to the exponential growth of the unit and staff.

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Mrs Saroja Naicker

Admin Assistant | Admin

Saroja Naicker proactively provides comprehensive administrative assistance to the Director, staff and students of H3D Drug Discovery Centre at UCT to ensure the efficient running of the Centre.  
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She also ensures adherence to UCT policy and strives for operational efficiencies across the entire unit. She has been operating in the position for 5 years and has been at UCT for 13 years. 

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