Host organisation: University of Cape Town, South Africa

Project title: Identification of drug leads for the treatment of malaria and schistosomiasis by medicinal chemistry optimization of pyridobenzimidazole derivatives

Dr Godfrey Mayoka lectures at the School of Pharmacy, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Kenya. He completed his doctorate in the field of drug discovery in 2018 at the University of Cape Town, and aims to continue his research on alternative lead compounds for treating malaria and schistosomiasis.

AREF Fellowship research project:

Dr Mayoka says “In sub-Saharan Africa, the leading burdens of parasitic disease are malaria and schistosomiasis. Parasites evolve resistance to existing drugs and some drugs are toxic in some patients. This is why resistance and toxicity are prevailing challenges to containing these infections with medicines. Better drugs are an obvious route to reducing those burdens.

“My dream is that African researchers like myself will spearhead collaborative and multidisciplinary drug discovery projects within the continent. The AREF Fellowship will enable me to consolidate my skills and expertise in drug discovery at a leading research centre. It is a great stepping-stone for me in tackling significant health problems by contributing to developing new drugs to improve and save African lives.”

Dr Mayoka will be hosted at the Drug Discovery and Development Centre (H3D) at the University of Cape Town, under the supervision of Professor Kelly Chibale, where he says “I will have access to the whole spectrum of the preclinical drug discovery platform ranging from organic and medicinal chemistry to in vivo determination of efficacy for candidate compounds.”

After the placement, Godfrey’s home institution will support his efforts to establish a multidisciplinary drug discovery laboratory to support research projects within the university.