New Insight into HIV Protease Mechanistic Pathway
Dr Monsurat M Lawal was awarded a PhD in Pharmaceutical Chemistry for her study on A Computational Perspective on the Concerted Cleavage Mechanism of the Natural Targets of HIV-1 Protease.
‘The applied theoretical approach resulted in the computational modeling of a new, potentially active, substrate-based inhibitor which is under experiment and would likely be patented,’ said Lawal. ‘If experimentally supported, it would provide a solution to HIV treatment.’
Lawal underwent a month-long training at the University of Florida in the United States under computational programme developer, Professor Adrian Roitberg. She said that the process was initially a tough one: ‘I needed to be extra patient and careful before getting it right. I almost gave up after five semesters of no publication! However, moral support from my family, supervisors and friends kept me going.’
She is currently mentoring postgraduate students in her research group and designing a project for her postdoctoral programme. She hopes to remain in academia in the future.
Lawal ascribed her success to her interest in reading, which was instilled by her parents. She recalled how excited they were at the prospect of her receiving her PhD: ‘Before my results came, I started avoiding my dad’s calls because his anticipation and love became overwhelming. He couldn’t wait to be called “Daddy Doctors” since my brother also has a PhD.’
Words: Nombuso Dlamini
Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal