International Scientists Join the School of Health Sciences
UKZN’s School of Health Sciences has welcomed two new international Scientists - Dr Bahareh Honarparvar of Iran and Dr Adam Skelton of Wales - into its fold.
The two health experts have an outstanding repertoire of research skills and will dedicate their time to postgraduate recruitment and the school’s research output.
Honarparvar, based in Pharmaceutical Sciences, received her PhD in Physical Chemistry (Computational Chemistry) in Iran before starting research on computational HIV drug design as a computational Postdoctoral Fellow at UKZN from July 2010 to June 2013.
Honarparvar’s research interest is mainly in applying computational medicinal chemistry approaches (molecular dynamic simulation, molecular docking, and binding free energy calculation) to investigate enzyme-inhibitor interactions for synthesising novel drugs related to different diseases.
She is a curious and adventurous researcher ‘I always want to know more about life. I believe in developing my life and research career. In 2010, I felt a need to start afresh in a different country and the breakthrough came in the form of Professor Gert Kruger, a UKZN Specialist in Organic Synthesis and Computational Chemistry.
‘I told myself that we have a lot of HIV and Hepatitis in my country, so if I get this experience at UKZN I can apply that knowledge when I go back home and also in my pharmaceutical research around the world. So I decided to leave Iran and accept the offer at UKZN.
‘As an Iranian Scientist with a physical disability, I will not allow the wheels on my wheelchair to stop my will for life,’ said Honarparvar.
Skelton, also based in Pharmaceutical Sciences, is an expert in a range of molecular modelling techniques, mostly centered on classical molecular dynamics and quantum mechanical calculations.
He earned a Masters degree in Chemistry from the University of Cardiff in 2002 before embarking on a PhD in Chemistry at Warwick University in England from 2004 to 2008, specialising in molecular modelling of the interactions between biomolecules and inorganic surfaces.
From 2008 to 2011 he started his postdoctoral studies at the Department of Chemical Engineering at Vanderbilt University in the United States, performing molecular modelling research on quartz/water/electrolyte interactions.
In 2011, he moved to the University of Dayton to perform research on molecular modelling of lipid bilayers and ion channels and ab initio calculations of silica cages.
Skelton joined UKZN in 2012 to do research in drug design and molecular modelling of biological systems as a Postdoctoral Fellow. His research interests are modelling synthetic channels in lipid bilayers, simulating the interaction between biological molecules with inorganic surfaces and modelling biological systems.
‘I am grateful to the School for granting me the opportunity to excel in my field and for providing me access to state-of-the-art laboratories,’ said Skelton. ‘I have been doing molecular modelling research, ranging from materials and science to biological systems. Now, I am concentrating more on cell membrane and synthetic ion channels as well as drug enzymes interactions for drug discovery.’
University staff and students are encouraged to approach both researchers with a view to research collaboration, grant writing and co-supervision of postgraduate students.