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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

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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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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Dr Diego Gonzalez Cabrera

Chief Investigator | Malaria Chem

In 2010, Diego took up a post-doctoral position with Prof. Kelly Chibale. 
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He was part of the team that discovered the first compound researched in Africa to enter preclinical development. MMV390048 is a very potent 2-aminopyridine with the potential to become part of a single-dose cure for all strains of malaria.

In February 2015, he joined H3D as a Principal Scientific Officer and is continuing to work on the development of new affordable therapeutic agents for the treatment of uncomplicated malaria as a Chief Investigator.

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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

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 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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Dr Gurminder Kaur

Post Doc | Malaria Chem

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

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

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. He then spent two years 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 thus ranged from organic synthesis and fluorescence microscopy to chemical proteomics and mammalian tissue culture. 

John is also passionate about using his skills to bridge the gap between science and the South African public. John’s other interest 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 21 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

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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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; 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. 
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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 joined MedChem group of H3D in February 2016 and worked as a Postdoctoral research fellow on Merck malaria program for more than 2 years.

Nishanth joined H3D in December 2018 as an Investigator and is continuing to work on Merck/MMV malaria program.

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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 Renier van der Westhuyzen

Chief Investigator | TB Chem

Dr Renier van der Westhuyzen is currently a Chief Investigator at H3D, University of Cape Town.
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With almost a decade’s experience in TB drug discovery he has transitioned into a project leadership role where he is part of a multidisciplinary leadership team involved with hit to lead and lead optimization projects aimed towards discovering new anti-mycobacterial therapies. He has also completed two short sabbaticals at Novartis. At the Novartis institute for tropical disease (NITD) 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 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 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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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 a 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 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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Dr Christel Brunschwig

Senior Investigator | DMPK

Received her Msc in Agroresources Chemistry and her Chemical Engineering Degree in 2004 (ENSIACET, Toulouse, France).
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She then travelled the world to obtain her PhD in Molecular Chemistry with Pr Phila Raharivelomanana (2006-2009, University of French Polynesia), and to gain more experience in analytical chemistry and natural products drug discovery during her postdoctoral positions at 2iE (Burkina Faso), then at the University of French Guiana (2012-2014). Christel joined Kelly’s Academic Group at the University of Cape Town as a post doc in 2014, then H3D as a Senior Investigator in 2016. Her work focuses on preclinical pharmacokinetics and metabolite identification to support H3D drug discovery projects (malaria and tuberculosis).

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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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Mrs Nina Lawrence

Senior Investigator, DMPK

Nina Lawrence obtained her BSc and BSc(Hons) degrees at the University of Cape Town and later her MSc in analytical chemistry and wine biotechnology from Stellenbosch University.

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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, and was involved with the analysis of wine and multiway analysis of data for prediction and correlation studies to aid in wine making and labelling. Nina joined H3D in June 2011 and played a significant role in setting up the ADME platform, and has been leading the platform since 2013. She serves as a member of H3D’s operations committee, and is a core project member within TB and AMR, and backup for malaria, where she actively aids in driving project strategy to achieve key milestones from hit identification to deliver high quality candidate molecules for entry into preclinical development. She advises the project teams on human exposure profile projections and human dose predictions. Nina is currently doing her PhD part time at the University of Cape Town.

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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 | DMPK

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

 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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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 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 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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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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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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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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