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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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He is also the founding Director of the South African Medical Research Council Drug Discovery and Development Research Unit at the University of Cape Town (UCT). He is a full Professor of Organic Chemistry at UCT, a Tier 1 South Africa Research Chair in Drug Discovery and a Full Member of the UCT Institute of Infectious Disease & Molecular Medicine. Kelly is a Fellow of UCT, the Royal Society of South Africa and the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Kelly obtained his PhD in Synthetic Organic Chemistry from the University of Cambridge in the UK with Stuart Warren (1989-1992). This was followed by postdoctoral stints at the University of Liverpool in the UK as a British Ramsay Research Fellow with Nick Greeves (1992-94) and at The Scripps Research Institute in the USA as a Wellcome Trust International Prize Research Fellow with K.C. Nicolaou (1994-96). He was a Sandler Sabbatical Fellow at the University of California San Francisco in the USA (2002), a US Fulbright Senior Research Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in the USA (2008) and a Visiting Professor at Pfizer in the UK (2008).

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Med Chem
Ash Bhana

Mr Ash Bhana

Senior Research Scientist | TB Chem 

Ashlyn Bhana completed his BSc at Stellenbosch University in 2013, majoring in Chemistry, Polymer Science as well as Textile Science.
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He completed his BSc (Hons) in the following year, where he completed a mini-project within the field of Supramolecular Chemistry. In 2015, he joined GOMOC (Group of Medicinal and Organic Chemistry) at Stellenbosch University and completed his MSc in 2017 under the tutelage of Dr. Gareth Arnott within the field Organic Chemistry, which also encompassed Inorganic Chemistry (Organnometallics), where he did a follow-up project in order to flesh out more substantial results that focussed on the design of sulphur-derived resorcinarene macrocycles to be explored in their use as ligands for metal catalysts.

Ashlyn has since joined H3D as a Senior Research Scientist working on the discovery and development of potential drugs against malaria and tuberculosis.

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Dr André Horatscheck

Senior Investigator| Malaria Chem

Dr André Horatscheck joined the MedChem group of H3D in January 2016 as Principal Scientific Officer.
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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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Candice-Soares-de-Melo

Dr Candice Soares de Melo

Senior Investigator | TB Chem

Candice Soares de Melo is a Principal Scientific Officer at the Drug Discovery
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and Development Centre (H3D) at the University of Cape Town. She has worked on several TB programs, with collaborations from HIT-TB and TBDA, 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), she returned to Cape Town where she carried out four 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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Claire-Le-Manach

Dr Claire Le Manach

Senior Investigator | Malaria Chem

After graduating as a Chemical Engineer in 2004, Claire continued with a Master in Molecular and
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Supramolecular Chemistry and a PhD in Organic Chemistry at the University of Paris Sud 11, Orsay. She then focused on designing libraries to inhibit the tubulin/microtubules system using dynamic combinatorial chemistry. She obtained her PhD in 2008, after which she went over to the US for a post-doctoral position at the Center for Drug Design at the University of Minneapolis, Minnesota. After about two years there working on antibacterial projects, she left the cold of the Midwest for South Africa and joined Kelly’s group at the end of 2010 to work as a post-doctoral fellow on the MMV project for 4 years. After a 4-month break spent traveling around South America, she came back to the Cape in 2015 and joined H3-D as a principal as scientific officer where she is currently working on the MMV project.

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Diego-Gonzalez-Cabrera

Dr Diego Gonzalez Cabrera

Senior Investigator | Malaria Chem

In 2010, he took up a post-doctoral position with Prof. Kelly Chibale
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focusing on the development of new affordable therapeutic agents for the treatment of uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum and blood-stage P. vivax malaria. He was part of the team that discovered the first compound researched in Africa to enter preclinical development. The compound, MMV390048, is a very potent 2-aminopyridine analogue that displays complete cure of animals infected with malaria parasites at low doses, with the potential to become part of a single-dose cure for all strains of malaria (2010-2015).

Diego joined H3-D in February 2015 as a Principal Scientific Officer and is continuing to work on malaria programs.

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Dom Castell

Dr Dominic Castell

Investigator | Malaria Chem 

Dominic Castell joined the Medicinal Chemistry group of H3D  as a Chief Scientific Officer in June 2018.  In his new role he will be working on the development of new antimalarial drugs.
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He completed his undergraduate studies in Chemical Biology at Stellenbosch University 2011. After finishing his Chemistry Honours degree, he joined the group of Medicinal and Organic Chemistry as an MSc student in 2014, under the supervision of Dr. Gareth Arnott. His MSc project was upgraded to a PhD later that year, which was completed at the end of 2016. The project focussed on the synthesis and application of inherently chiral calixarenes, for their potential use as ligands in asymmetric catalysis.

At the beginning of 2017 he joined the supramolecular research group of Prof. Len Barbour as a postdoctoral research fellow at Stellenbosch University. During this time, his research interests entailed the synthesis development of new stimuli responsive porous materials.

Donald Seanego

Dr Donald Seanego

Post Doc | Malaria Chem

I completed my BSc degree in Chemistry and Mathematics at University of South Africa (UNISA).
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In 2012, I spent a year at the CSIR Biosciences in Pretoria, South Africa, as a DST-NRF Intern. I was involved in the synthesis of Antimalarial and Anti-Tubercular agents during my time in CSIR. In late 2013, I moved to University of the Witwatersrand (WITS) to do my MSc in medicinal chemistry which involved the design and synthesis of antimalarial antifolates. The degree was obtained with distinction. In late 2015, I continued with my PhD in Chemistry on synthesis and evaluation of antimalarial agents as inhibitors of Plasmodium falciparum calcium-dependent protein kinases (PfCDPK1 and PfCDPK4) under the supervision of Dr Amanda Rousseau and Prof Charles de Koning at WITS.

I joined H3D in late-March 2019 as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in medicinal chemistry team. Currently working on malaria program.

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Grant-Boyle

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 then 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 Modderfontein, Johannesburg in June 2009. He initially worked on various in-house medchem programs in disease areas including HIV, Malaria and TB. He was later moved onto an externally funded anti-tuberculosis project (TB-Nitroimidazoles) which spanned three years. Grant was later involved in contract medicinal chemistry in collaboration with the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi) in disease areas such as Leichmaniasis and Trypanosomiasis.

Grant joined H3-D in November 2014 as a Principal Scientific Officer (PSO) and has worked on various TB programs within the organization, specifically as part of the team collaborating with Lilly/IDRI.

Grant has authored/co-authored more than 20 peer reviewed journal articles and is named as co-inventor on one patent. He received the SASOL Postgraduate Medal in 2009.

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Ms Jasmin Ferreira

Senior 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 Senior 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). Jean completed her PhD in 2016. Her PhD research consisted of a medicinal chemistry study developing novel anti-cancer compounds and a synthetic methodology study into a novel synthetic route to access naturally occurring organic scaffolds.

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

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Jessica Akester

Ms Jessica Akester

Senior Research Scientist | TB Chem

Jessica Akester completed her BSc at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in 2013, with majors in Chemistry and Biochemistry.
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Jessica Akester completed her BSc at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in 2013, with majors in Chemistry and Biochemistry. In 2014, she obtained her BSc (Hons) degree in Chemistry with a first class pass at UCT and went on to pursue a MSc in medicinal chemistry under the supervision of Prof. Kelly Chibale from 2015 to 2017. Her research focused on the synthesis, structure-activity relationship and solubility profiling of a potential antimycobacterial agent.

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

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John Woodland

Dr John Woodland

Post Doc | Malaria Chem

John is a chemist with interdisciplinary research experience and a passionate interest in infectious diseases. His current role as a postdoctoral researcher at H3D involves the design and synthesis of potential drug leads for malaria through an integrated medicinal chemistry approach.
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John completed his doctorate in the Department of Chemistry at UCT in 2016 after which he spent two years as postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology with Professor Janet Hapgood, focusing on HIV acquisition in the context of steroid receptors and hormonal contraceptives. His research experience has ranged from organic synthesis and fluorescence microscopy to chemical proteomics and mammalian tissue culture. John is inspired by the role of science communication in improving scientific literacy in South Africa. He has also participated in several science competitions, including the Young Innovator of the Year Competition held in Berlin in 2013 for which he was awarded Third Prize. John’s other passion is music. He runs his own choral group, VOX Cape Town, and has been a presenter on Fine Music Radio since 2006.

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Kawaljit Singh

Dr Kawaljit Singh

Senior Investigator | TB Chem

Dr. Kawaljit Singh received his BSc (Hons.) and MSc (Hons.) degrees from Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, India.
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He then continued at the same institute and received his PhD degree in February 2012 under the supervision of Prof. Kamaljit Singh. His project involved developing synthetic methodologies for regioselective synthetic transformations and applications of pyrimidin-2(1H)-one derivatives. After completing his degree, Kawaljit joined the research group of Prof. Kelly Chibale as a postdoctoral fellow in February 2012 at Department of Chemistry, University of Cape Town.

As a postdoctoral fellow, Kawaljit worked on several projects aiming toward the development of novel antimalarial and antimycobacterial agents. He has authored/co-authored approximately 16 peer reviewed journal articles.

Kawaljit joined the MedChem group of H3D in May 2016 as a Principal Scientific Officer and is working on a TB project.

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Lebu Taleli

Dr Lebu Taleli

Post Doc | TB Chem 

Lebu received his BSc in Chemical Technology from The National University of Lesotho, Southern Africa. In 2006, he joined iThemba LABS Radionuclides and Radiopharmaceuticals Production Department in Cape Town, South Africa.
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He was initiated in an R&D group focused on synthesis and radiolabeling of SPECT radiopharmaceuticals used for diagnosis of several cancers in nuclear medicine. He later specialised in isotopic exchange radiolabeling method for production high quality radiophamaceuticals such as 123I-[MIBG]. He has also worked on-site collaborations with the Biomedical Radiation Department for investigating the use of nucleoside mimics as delivery vectors in radiotherapy.

In 2010, he has spent time at the CSIR Biosciences in Pretoria, South Africa, under the Southern Africa Network for Biosciences flagship initiative project. He was involved in isolation and bioprospecting of natural product medicines that are indigenously used to treat HIV/AIDS and/or opportunistic infections. In 2012, he returned to Cape Town and pursued MSc over 1 year at Stellenbosch University with Prof Willem van Otterlo. He continued his PhD in Chemistry on the synthesis of polymer-bound kinase inhibitor anti-tumour agents under a joined supervision of Prof Bert Klumperman and Willem van Otterlo at the same institution. He completed his doctoral degree in Dec 2017 and Lebu joined H3D in 2018 as a postdoctoral research fellow in medicinal chemistry. 

Lutete Peguy Khonde

Dr Lutete Peguy Khonde

Investigator | Malaria 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 as a postdoctoral fellow in the medicinal chemistry team. He is currently working on various malaria programs.

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Monica Clements

Dr Monica Clements

Post Doc | Malaria Chem

Monica completed her BSc degree in Chemical Biology at Stellenbosch University in 2012.
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After completing a BSc(hons) degree in chemistry (2013), she pursued her passion for research with an MSc (2015) and then a PhD in medicinal chemistry, also at Stellenbosch University. Under the supervision of Dr Margaret Blackie and Dr Tanya le Roex, Monica’s PhD focussed on investigating the formation of multicomponent crystals of antiplasmodial agents as a method of improving physicochemical properties. She successfully defended her PhD thesis in January 2019 and has since joined the H3D team as a postdoctoral research fellow.

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Nishanth Kandepedu

Dr Nishanth Kandepedu

 Investigator| Malaria Chem

Nishanth Kandepedu obtained his BPharm degree in 2010 and Master’s degree in Pharmaceutical chemistry;
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a dual degree program from Vellore Institute of Technology, India and École Nationale Supérieure de Chimie de Clermont-Ferrand (ENSCCF), France in 2012 with Chancellor's gold medal. He then continued at University Blaise Pascal, Clermont-Ferrand, France with Ministère de l'enseignement supérieur et de la recherché (MESR) fellowship and received his PhD degree in November 2015 under the supervision of Prof. Yves Troin and Dr. Isabelle Abrunhosa-Thomas. His project involved the synthesis of Calcitonin Gene Related Peptide antagonists and its application in chronic visceral pain. He is an Associate member of Royal Society of Chemistry (AMRSC), represented France at European School of Medicinal Chemistry, Italy in 2014 and Trans-Mediterranean Colloquium on Heterocyclic Chemistry, Morocco with young scientist grant from IUPAC in 2013.

He joined H3D in February 2016 as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in Medicinal chemistry and is currently working with Merck team to develop novel antimalarial drugs.

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Aloysius-Nchinda

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 | TB Chem

Preshendren Govender obtained his BSc in 2007, qualifying him for the Dean’s Merit List, 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 with distinction and a PhD in chemistry in 2014, specializing in organometallic and bioorganometallic chemistry, both at UCT. He has a strong publication record and was awarded a University of Cape Town Research Associateship in Science in 2013. In 2014 and 2015, two of his publications were listed as “10 most cited articles” published by the Journal of Organometallic Chemistry between 2012 and 2014.

Recently he completed a two-year post-doctoral position at UCT in the Department of Chemistry. The research performed was left field as he stepped out of his “comfort zone” of bioorganometallic chemistry and investigated aspects of homogeneous catalysis, primarily focusing on hydroformylation of long-chained alkenes. It is during these last two years that he identified his passion for teaching and research. He has successfully co-supervised and mentored a masters student at UCT, who will be graduating cum laude in June 2016, and in 2015 lectured undergraduate students in the Department of Chemistry at UCT.

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Dr Renier van der Westhuyzen

Research Officer | TB Chem

Dr Renier van der Westhuyzen is currently a research officer at H3D,
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University of Cape Town where he is taking a leading role in hit to lead and lead optimization projects aimed towards discovering new anti-mycobacterial therapies. Before joining H3D, he was a scientist at iThemba Pharmaceuticals (Pty) Ltd a company focused on drug discovery for neglected tropical diseases. At iThemba he was employed as a medicinal chemist working on various TB drug discovery projects. He has also completed two short sabbaticals at Novartis. At the Novartis institute for tropical disease (NITD) in Singapore he was employed as a visiting postdoctoral fellow working on improving the developabillity of an approved TB drug. At Novartis, Basel, he was trained in parallel synthesis. Before joining iThemba he completed his undergraduate studies, MSc and PhD degrees at the University of Stellenbosch. His PhD was completed under the supervision of Dr Erick Strauss and entailed the synthesis and evaluation of bacterial Coenzyme A biosynthesis pathway inhibitors.

 

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Richard-Gessner

Dr Richard Gessner

Research Officer | Malaria Chem

Richard completed his undergraduate and postgraduate studies at the University of Cape Town.


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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).

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Sandeep-Ghorpade

Dr Sandeep Ghorpade

Principal Investigator, Chemistry

Sandeep Ghorpade joined H3D in September 2014 as a Chief Research Officer,


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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.

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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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Virsinha Reddy

Dr Virsinha V. Reddy

Post Doc  | TB Chem

Dr. Virsinha Reddy completed his BSc in 2006 from Adarsh Senior College Omerga, India.
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Then, he started his post graduate studies and received his MSc degree in 2009 from The Department of Chemistry, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University Aurangabad, Maharashtra, India with distinction and secured a 3rd rank. Thereafter, he qualified national level exams National Eligibility Test (NET) and Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) in 2010 to get financial support during the PhD tenure. In August 2010, he began his PhD career with Dr. R. Vijaya Anand at The Department of Chemical Sciences, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Mohali (IISERM), India and completed in June 2016. During his PhD research, he was working on metal catalyzed domino electrophilic cyclization approaches toward benzannulated N-heterocycles and related natural products. He has authored/co-authored a total of 8 publications in peer reviewed international journals. “One of his articles was one of the top twenty Most Read articles in July 2015” which has been published by Organic Letters.

Virsinha joined H3D as a Post-doctoral research fellow in mid-2016 to assist the malaria team working on the NITD project to investigate a novel antimalarial candidate. Since March 2017, he is working on DuPont TB series to find potent anti-tuberculosis drugs.

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Greg-Basarab

Dr Greg Basarab 

Head of DMPK

Greg Basarab has worked in various aspects of antibacterial and antifungal infection research

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for over 30 years at AstraZeneca and at DuPont before joining the H3D. novel mode-of-action antibacterial drugs. Two projects led to the identification of drug candidates that entered human clinical trials including one currently in Phase II trials for the treatment of gonorrhea. He is the primary inventor of the two clinical candidates and the inventor otherwise of over 30 patent applications, 19 of which have been granted. Earlier in his career, he led projects at in three departments of the DuPont Corporation: Central Research & Development, Biochemicals and Agricultural Products working mostly in the antifungal arena and in automated chemical synthesis. Before that, he received his academic training first from the Pennsylvania State University to earn a B.S. in Chemistry and then from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology working in natural products total synthesis to earn a Ph.D. in Chemistry.

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Christel-Brunschwig

Dr Christel Brunschwig

Senior Investigator | DMPK

Received her Msc and Chemical Engineering Degree from ENSIACET,
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Toulouse in 2004 and obtained her PhD in Molecular Chemistry from the University of French Polynesia with Phila Raharivelomanana (2006-2009). This was followed by postdoctoral positions at 2iE (Burkina Faso), then at the University of French Guiana (2012-2014) in analytical chemistry and natural products drug discovery.

Christel joined UCT in 2014 as a post doc working on metabolite identification for H3D malaria and tuberculosis drug discovery projects.

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Dr Dale Taylor

Senoir Investigator | DMPK

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.
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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.

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Dr Liezl Gibhard

Senior Investigator | PK

Dr Liezl Gibhard is a research professional with experience in
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biochemistry across platforms in research, development and scientific analysis. 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 H3-D on a permanent basis in mid-2015.

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Mathew-Njoroge

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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Nina-Lawrence

Mrs Nina Lawrence

Senior Investigator, DMPK

Nina Lawrence obtained her BSc and BSc(Hons) degrees at the University of Cape Town

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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.

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Nesia-Barnes  

Ms Nesia Barnes

Chief 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

Chief Research Scientist | ADME

 

Warren-Olifant

Mr Warren Olifant

Chief 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

Chief Research Scientist | DMPK

Zama Ngqumba is a Chemist with a background in Chromatography. Her career started in 2012, as an intern at DST-NRF working under numerous projects as the lab technician.
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She joined the ARC Infrutec/Nietvoorbij campus where she gained extensive training on the HPLC-DAD and other analytical instruments analysing wine. During this time, she took interest on the chemistry of her work and enrolled for an MTech degree: Chemistry at CPUT in 2014. Her project focused on the effect of yeast strains on the sensory properties of wine.  In 2018 she joined the PK team H3D as a Senior Scientific Officer is to provide technical and scientific support to the preclinical team.

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Biology
Alissa Myrick

Dr Alissa Myrick

Senior Research Officer | TB Biology 

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.
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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.

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.

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Vinayak Singh

Dr Vinayak Singh

 Research Officer | TB Biology

Vinayak (MSc-Biotechnology, PhD-Biochemistry) is an exceptionally skilled experimental biologist with more than 12 years of extensive 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 worked as a postdoctoral fellow (2011-2016) in the eminent lab of Prof. Valerie Mizrahi in the fields of Microbiology, Biochemistry, Microbial Genetics and Metabolomics. At UCT 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.

Vinayak has been remarkably productive in his PhD and postdoc, serving as the lead researcher on studies that have been published in top international journals and presented at major international conferences. 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.

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.

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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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Antonina Wasuna

Dr Antonina Wasuna

GOOT Post Doc | TB Biology 

Antonina obtained her BPharm degree from the University of Nairobi in 2008 and worked as a pharmacist at the Ministry of Medical Services in Kenya.
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In February 2011, she embarked on an MSc in Chemistry at the University of Cape Town in the lab of Prof. Kelly Chibale, consequently upgrading to a PhD in 2012. Her doctoral thesis focused on drug repositioning of a natural product for Tuberculosis, in which she applied medicinal chemistry and biology techniques, under the co-supervision of Associate Prof. Digby F. Warner at the University of Cape Town’s Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine.

Lauren Arendse

Dr Lauren Arendse 

Research Officer | Enzymology

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. 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 took up a position as a Research Officer at H3D. She is responsible for establishing the enzymology and structural biology components of a target-based malaria drug discovery platform. In addition, she plays a key role in student supervision and project design for malaria target-based drug discovery projects within the Department of Chemistry at UCT.

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Dr Maribanyana Lebeko

Post Doc Fellow | Parasitology

Mariba is a cell biologist, who obtained his PhD in cell biology from UCT in 2015. His research focused on the use of flow cytometry to determine the optimal ratio of skin keratinocytes and pigment producing cells (melanocytes) to incorporate into the design of 3D skin models.
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His research as post-doctoral research fellow in Hair and Skin Research Laboratory further focused on the design of in vitro 3D models for skin conditions such as keloids and folliculitis keloidalis nuchae under the support from the NRF Innovation fellowship during 2016-2018. His skills in cell culture models, as well as flow cytometry and cellular bioenergetics were further enhanced during his post doc.

Mariba has joined the H3D in July 2019, focusing on the use of cell culture and flow cytometry expertise to refine and implement the in vitro parasite reduction ratio assays aimed at medium-high throughput screening of anti-plasmodial compounds.

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Dr Stanislav Huszár

Post Doc Fellow | TB Biology

Stanislav is a biochemist with more than nine years of laboratory experience in mycobacterial research.
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He obtained his PhD in Biochemistry at the Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia, in the lab of assoc. Prof. Katarína Mikušová, one of the leading scientists, specialized in mycobacterial cell wall biosynthesis. During his PhD studies (2012-2016) he focused on DprE1, WecA, and MurX proteins as novel antituberculosis drug targets. He presented his work at several international research conferences and More Medicine for Tuberculosis (MM4TB, EU 7th Framework Programme) consortium meetings.

After finishing his PhD, he remained in the lab and continue in his post-doctoral research on the various projects centred on the mycobacterial cell wall assembly and identification of the mechanism of action of novel antimycobacterial agents. He has an insight into mycobacterial cell wall biogenesis, molecular biology, biochemistry, and cell biology. As a part of the academic institution, he was also involved in training new students, and lecturing biochemistry undergraduate students. His laboratory skills cover molecular cloning, recombinant protein overproduction, protein purification, enzyme assays, metabolic labelling, cell wall analysis, and microbiological practice with non-pathogenic and pathogenic mycobacteria (BSL2 and BSL3 facility).

Stanislav first visited H3D for an 8-week internship by the end of 2018 (October-December) to learn the construction of conditional knockdowns in mycobacteria by the CRISPR-Cas system. After coming back to his home institution, he then took an opportunity for a 1-year post-doctoral fellowship at H3D in antituberculosis drug discovery to extend his professional research skills.

In June 2019 Stanislav joined the H3D TB Biology unit as a PostDoc to work on several H3D projects arising from target-based and phenotypic screenings.

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Sumaya-Salie

Mrs Sumaya Salie

Technical Officer | 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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Tando Ntsabo

Ms Tandokazi Ntsabo

Senior Scientific Officer | 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.

Virgil-Verhoog

Mr Virgil Verhoog

Senior Technical Officer | 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 technical officer in the H3D team.

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Vuyelwa Stuurman

Ms Vuyelwa Stuurman

Laboratory Assistant | Parasitology

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CADD
Stephen Fienberg

Dr Stephen Fienberg

GOOT 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 has since commenced a Post-doc with H3D.

He is currently involved in joint collaborations with Prof Kelly Chibale’s academic group and the H3D malaria team. Under the mentorship of Dr Joe Eyermann, he has been working on structure based lead optimisation of antimalarial kinase inhibitors.

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Operation and PM
Susan-Winks

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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She has been operating in a project management and operations role for the past 5 years, setting up organisational systems and working to support the various projects across the centre. Prior to this, Dr Winks worked as a medicinal chemist focused on drug discovery for neglected diseases, first at iThemba Pharmaceuticals for 3,5 years and then at H3D for a year. The transition away from laboratory science was precipitated by the completion of her MBA in 2014 and an ever-increasing interest in optimizing the environment for scientific efforts to maximize the impact.

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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 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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Ayesha-Banderker

Mrs Ayesha Banderker

Finance and Administration Manager | Admin

Admin
Elaine-Rutherfoord-Jones

Mrs Elaine Rutherfoord-Jones

Admin Officer | Admin

Elaine first trained as a primary school teacher in Zimbabwe (majoring in English and primary level education) and learned to appreciate the 25 hour day of a teacher!

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After two years in practice, she decided that was not her vocation and travelled to Cape Town where she completed a BSoc Sci at the University of Cape Town (UCT), which she thoroughly enjoyed, majoring in Industrial Psychology and Public Administration.  This was followed by a brief business course and then she worked for a few years in the Committee office at the City of Cape Town, where she honed her writing and editing skills, writing minutes of Executive Committee meetings, dealing with some very interesting Personnel matters.   Then she had a 10 year break from paid work, bringing up her two sons.  In 2001 she started work as Administrator for the Royal Society of South Africa (RSSA) on the UCT campus, in the PD Hahn building!  This was a fulfilling, but somewhat lonely post, only meeting the RSSA members once a month.  A few years later she then moved over to working for UCT with some contract work for the Science Faculty Office, Post Graduate funding office and then the Chemistry Department.  Elaine started working for Kelly Chibale part time in 2008 and from then on, his research group grew exponentially and the rest is History! 

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Saroja-Naicker

Mrs Saroja Naicker

Admin Assistant | Admin