Professor Kelly Chibale named one of Top 50 World's Greatest Leaders by Fortune

23 Apr 2018 - 12:15

Professor Kelly Chibale, Department of Chemistry and Director of of UCT's Drug Discovery and Development Centre (H3D), was recently named as one of Fortune's Top 50 World's Greatest Leaders.  The Science Faculty congratulates Professor Chibale on this prestigious accolade for his work. 

The 2018 list of World's Greatest Leaders puts emphasis on leaders who are navigating the challenge of multiplying their organisations' effectiveness by harnessing the power of unbundling - outsourcing and coordinating manufacturing, distribution and research.  Fortune magazine said its list looks at all sectors of society to find leaders "who are using their power and influence to make the world a better place".  Professor Chibale was selected by Fortune for his pioneering work in developing infrastructure to support scientific research.

The citation about Kelly Chibale says, "In much of Africa, the infrastructure to support scientific research is sorely lacking.  But Chibale is working to change that.  The Zambian-born chemist has built H3D, Africa's first integrated drug discovery centre, at the University of Cape Town.  His team now includes more than 90 researchers; they work out of state-of-the-art facilities thanks to partnerships with the Gates Foundation, Novartis, and South Africa's government.  H3D already has a potential drug for malaria in human trials".  Chibale has grown H3D into a world-class centre, with more than 60 researchers in addition to approximately 30 postgraduate (MSc and PhD) research students and postdoctoral fellows in his academic group.  

H3D works predominantly in the fields of tuberculosis and malaria and already has a potential drug for malaria in human trials.  Chibale says he hopes H3D can contribute to a global pipeline of new medicines for malaria and tuberculosis able to circumvent drug resistance.  He said he was inspired by confronting Afro-pessimism and debunking the myth that Africa could not be a source of health innovation.  "We need to demonstrate that Africa has more to offer than the mere opportunity for human clinical trials.  Africa has largely been a recipient of Western research.  It is time for Africa to also contribute research so that people from other continents can also benefit.  The challenges we are trying to address in Africa are not just African challenges, but human challenges.  In this way Africa can earn respect.  Research is not a luxury.  It provides solutions, creates jobs and infrastructure, builds capacity as well as expertise, attracts foreign investment, can seed an industry and contributes to reversing the brain drain ".  

Chibale says he is honoured to be included on the Fortune list with Bill and Melinda Gates, who co-founded the Gates Foundation and have committed substantial resources to fighting the scourge of malaria, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases.  He says, "Not only are Bill and Melinda immense contributors to the recognition I have received through the support of our H3D work from their Foundation over many years, they are both tremendous inspirational and exemplary role models of leaders who serve others".