Kelly Chibale named one of the 2017 Quartz Africa Innovators 

08 May 2017 | Jess Oosthuizen

Professor Kelly Chibale is one of the 33 innovators in Africa honoured in 2017 by the digital news agency, Quartz. Chibale heads up UCT’s Drug Discovery and Development Centre (H3D) and has been at the helm of ground-breaking research to manufacture a single-dose drug to combat malaria.

According to the Quartz Africa editor, Yinka Adegoke, the reason for the annual publication of this list is to showcase innovation in Africa. “The narrative in Africa has moved from seeking foreign-solutions-to-African-problems, to discussing African-solutions-to-African-problems,” he says.

This is the third year that the Quartz Africa team published its list of innovators. This year the nominees are picked from 18 countries. “The influence of their work goes well beyond their immediate community and will ultimately impact millions of lives,” said the Quartz Africa team in their announcement.

“I am grateful for this recognition, which is not just a recognition of me as an individual but also of my past and present team members at H3D, as well as my network of collaborators, funders and finally but not least, UCT for the conducive and supportive research environment. Through our work at H3D, we have demonstrated that research and development is not a luxury. It provides solutions, creates jobs, builds infrastructure, attracts foreign direct investment, contributes to reversing the brain drain and can seed a new industry,” says Chibale.

Around 429,000 people died from malaria in 2015, mostly in Africa, according to the World Health Organisation’s World Malaria Report. In their most recent discovery, Chibale and his team at H3D discovered a new anti-malarial clinical drug candidate, MMV390048, which holds the potential to cure and protect in a single dose. H3D conducted the research in collaboration with Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) and a team of international researchers. 

Chibale holds the DST/NRF South Africa Research Chair (SARChI) position in Drug Discovery. He has a PhD in Synthetic Organic Chemistry from the University of Cambridge in the UK. This was followed by postdoctoral stints at the University of Liverpool in the UK and at the Scripps Research Institute in the USA. He was also a United States Fulbright Senior Research Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and a visiting professor at Pfizer in the United Kingdom.

Image by Michael Hammond.

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