LibraryMedical EducationProfessor Kelly Chibale Awarded Royal Society Africa Prize 2023: Pioneering African-Centric Drug...

Professor Kelly Chibale Awarded Royal Society Africa Prize 2023: Pioneering African-Centric Drug Discovery

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In a remarkable achievement, Professor Kelly Chibale, the holder of the Neville Isdell Chair in African-centric Drug Discovery and Development and the director of the Holistic Drug Discovery and Development Centre (H3D) at the University of Cape Town (UCT), has been honored with the prestigious Royal Society Africa Prize 2023. This esteemed recognition is bestowed upon research scientists based in Africa who have made significant strides in the biological or physical sciences, while also contributing significantly to capacity building in Africa. Professor Chibale’s outstanding contributions have been specifically acknowledged for his groundbreaking work in drug discovery for African endemic diseases.

Royal Society Africa Prize:

The Royal Society Africa Prize is a testament to excellence in research and leadership within the scientific community. It is awarded to individuals who have demonstrated innovative contributions to the biological or physical sciences, enriching the scientific landscape of Africa. The citation for this award aptly highlights Professor Chibale’s “exceptional leadership and groundbreaking work in drug discovery for African endemic diseases.”

Professor Chibale’s Response:

Professor Chibale expressed his profound appreciation for this prestigious recognition, emphasizing the dual acknowledgment of his leadership and scientific research excellence. He remarked, “This recognition coming from a highly prestigious international learned society and the United Kingdom’s national academy of sciences is extra special – icing on the cake.”

Team Effort:

Drug discovery is an intricate, interdisciplinary endeavor that thrives on collaboration and a diversity of skills. Professor Chibale credits his dedicated team at H3D, comprising experts from diverse scientific disciplines such as chemistry, biology, pharmacology, business development, operations, finance, project management, and administration. This collaborative effort underscores the holistic approach taken by H3D in the pursuit of groundbreaking drug discovery.

Ongoing Projects:

Professor Chibale and his team are at the forefront of numerous exciting ongoing projects, each with the potential to make a profound impact on healthcare. Notably, they are investigating the impact of genetics on treatment outcomes among the African patient population, acknowledging the continent’s unparalleled genetic diversity. To address this health equity issue, African data integration in drug discovery and development is essential. This endeavor recently gained momentum with a generous donation of USD$1.5 million from UCT alumnus and former Coca-Cola chairperson and CEO, Neville Isdell.

Additionally, H3D is actively engaged in:

  1. Early-stage (preclinical) drug discovery targeting malaria, tuberculosis, and antibiotic-resistant microbial diseases.
  2. Developing Africa-specific models and tools to enhance treatment outcomes for African patients.
  3. Advancing drug discovery platform technologies.
  4. Enabling the training of African scientists in drug discovery-related sciences, expanding the drug discovery community and ecosystem across the African continent.

Professor Kelly Chibale’s recognition with the Royal Society Africa Prize 2023 is a testament to his exceptional leadership and groundbreaking contributions to the field of drug discovery for African endemic diseases. His visionary work not only transforms healthcare but also serves as an inspiration for scientists across the African continent, reinforcing the importance of collaboration and innovation in advancing medical research and healthcare outcomes.

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