22 Jul 2021 - 07:45
Photo credit:UCT Research

Professor Kelly Chibale has an easygoing manner and a big laugh that belies the fact that he’s one of Africa’s preeminent scientists, and among the world’s top Black leaders in biotech. Speaking over Zoom from Cape Town, South Africa, he’s quick to tease me that his home country, Zambia, is superior to mine, neighboring Zimbabwe. But Chibale’s start in life was anything but easy and is in fact perfectly captured by the name of the impoverished township he grew up in: Kabulanda, which literally translates as “sadness” in a local language.

Living with his entire family in a one-room home with no running water or electricity as a child, the young Chibale studied at night by the light of a kerosene lamp and against all odds made it into Cambridge, where he studied chemistry.

An illustrious career followed, with Chibale living in both the U.K. and U.S. doing academic fellowships and lecturing, but he always felt a pull to return to the continent of his birth. Then, 11 years ago, Chibale set up H3D, the only integrated drug research and development platform in Africa, at the University of Cape Town, where he’s made it his mission to develop drugs that improve treatment outcomes for Black patients, who, he says, are woefully underrepresented in clinical trials.


Article written by Kate Bartlette, OZY. Full article available here.