Several students and staff from the Malaria Parasite Molecular Laboratory (M2PL), which forms part of the University of Pretoria Institute for Sustainable Malaria Control (UP ISMC) and the Department of Biochemistry, attended the University of Cape Town Drug Discovery and Development Centre (H3D)'s 3rd H3D Symposium at the Goudini Spa near Worcester in the Western Cape from Tuesday, 15 November, to Friday, 18 November 2016, and had the opportunity to present their research. Among these were an invited lecture by Prof Lyn-Marie Birkholtz, three oral presentations and four poster presentations by post-doctoral fellows (Dr Bianca Verlinden and Dr Dina Coertzen) and PhD students (Janette Reader, Mariëtte Botha, Sindi Nondaba, Phanankosi Moyo and Nanika Coetzee). The event gave them an opportunity to showcase novel findings, ground-breaking research and on-going collaborative efforts to eliminate malaria. Nanika Coetzee received a full student travel bursary sponsored by H3D and Cipla, a leading pharmaceuticals company that manufactures world-class generic medicines at affordable prices, to attend the symposium.
The aim of the symposium was to ensure that TB, malaria and various other neglected tropical diseases receive worldwide attention in both the scientific and non-scientific arenas. It focused on diseases that are highly infectious, harmful and primarily affect the African population. The delegates were given the opportunity to share their novel findings in drug discovery to combat these tropical diseases, and to learn from experts in their respective fields.
The H3D Symposium is hosted biennially in Africa and brings together the drug discovery community from the pharmaceutical industry and academia, including staff and students. To highlight the importance of trans-disciplinary approaches and cutting-edge research in drug discovery, the theme of this symposium was 'Malaria, tuberculosis and neglected tropical diseases: Progress in drug discovery and development'.
Interesting topics discussed at the Symposium included: 'Global health perspectives in the pharmaceutical industry and product development partnerships', 'Target and phenotypic screening', 'Identifying and optimising lead compounds in the drug discovery pipeline', 'Pharmacokinetics and other drug discovery platform technologies' and 'Transitioning drug discovery assets towards preclinical and clinical development'.