17 February 2016 Volume :4 Issue :2

Health Sciences Research Unit in Line to Receive New Equipment Sponsorship

Health Sciences Research Unit in Line to Receive New Equipment Sponsorship
Professor Thavi Govender at the Catalysis and Peptide Research Unit.

UKZN’s Catalysis and Peptide Research Unit (CPRU) is a finalist for Seeding Labs 2016-17 Instrumental Access programme (http://seedinglabs.org), the international organisation has announced.

‘Our judging committee was impressed with the level of excellence and the calibre of the applications that we received from all of the semi-finalists,’ said Seeding Labs Acting Executive Director, Mr Robin Watters, in a congratulatory letter.

‘We look forward to working with you as we build the shipment for your institution and provide you and your students with the tools necessary to conduct life-changing research and train the next generations of scientists,’ Watters said.

Applicants must demonstrate the value of their research, the need for specific equipment, and the potential impact and outcomes of their work. To ensure that donated equipment supports the largest possible number of scientists and their students, each shipment is directed to entire departments or programmes, not individual researchers. ‘And we thoroughly vet each institution that applies,’ the organisation said

Seeding Labs assesses the stability of an institution and the country as a whole, their educational and scientific track record, the strength of their physical infrastructure, and their ability to install and maintain the equipment they receive.

‘Once we have connected tools and talent, we make sure those scientists have the infrastructure, training, manuals, journals, and available answers to get the highest and best use of the equipment.’

The interests of UKZN’s CPRU research group span the disciplines of organic synthesis, asymmetric catalysis, peptide drug design and computational chemistry. Their current projects include: synthesis and evaluation of inhibitors targeting HIV and TB of classes of chiral ligands and catalysts, experimental and theoretical research about the fundamental aspects of peptide folding, and various computational projects into mechanistic effects of our synthetic projects.

Research Professor, Senior Lecturer and Head of the CPRU, Professor Thavi Govender, said: ‘During the nine years of my academic career, having worked with many students and researchers from across the world, I have found that its not intelligence that limits them but the access to infrastructure and proper training. I believe that in order to facilitate dynamic research, we must have advanced equipment.

‘The purpose of us applying for the Seeding Labs’ grant was to equip the Discipline of Pharmaceutical Sciences with much needed essential equipment as well as provide our Unit with missing pieces for our drug discovery projects.

‘The equipment is chosen from a “shopping list” provided that all fits into a 6,5m shipping container. It includes high end equipment such as LCMS and low end like refrigerators. This equipment will benefit the 400 undergraduate pharmacy students, the 40 researchers at CPRU as well as the 30 researchers at the Antimicrobial Research Unit and the BioResource Unit,’ he said. 

Lunga Memela

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