Renowned scientist and MSU Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research, Innovation and Industrialization, Professor Grace Mugumbate, rubbed shoulders with fellow research Principal Investigators at a workshop on drug discovery, and data science approaches to improve maternal and child health in Africa held from the 25th to the 27th of May 2022 in Nairobi, Kenya.
The Grand Challenges Africa workshop sought to build partnerships and foster collaboration in drug discovery and maternal and child health data science projects, as well as discuss future opportunities for supporting scientific projects in Africa.
Principal Investigators from Zimbabwe, Kenya, South Africa, Mali, Ghana, Uganda, Cameroon, and Tanzania presented their respective project milestones.
Representatives from Gates Foundation, H3D drug discovery and development centre, Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), Science for Africa Foundation (SAF), Preva Group USA, DVPL Technology and Centre for Tropical Medicine and Global Health also graced the event.
Professor Mugumbate made a presentation on the current progress of her anti-malaria drug discovery project at MSU.
She is the Principal Investigator of the Midlands State University Drug Discovery and Informatics research group that received a $USD 100, 000 research grant from Grand Challenges Africa (GC Africa) in 2021.
The project is a data-driven drug discovery project namely Chemogenomic-guided identification and optimization of inhibitors of plasmodium falciparum heat shock proteins (PfHSPs) as potential antimalarial drugs.
She highlighted how her research team successfully applied computational Chemogenomic approaches in modeling 3D structures of plasmodium falciparum heat shock proteins and used them to identify promising inhibitors of PfHSPs.
To date, five compounds have been identified as promising inhibitors of PfHSP 70-1 and two compounds from de-novo molecular designing have been synthesized. In her presentation, she also outlined the need for regional and international collaboration of African scantiest in drug discovery-related projects.
The Professor Mugumbate led research team consists of Jonathan Bvunzawabaya (Research Assistant), Douglas Ruhwaya (Research Fellow), Tsungai Manyadza (MPhil student), Sithulisiwe Gwenya, (MPhil student) and Brilliant Nyathi (MPhil student).
The research has also forged collaborations with other researchers locally and internationally. The research project aims to identify effective anti-malaria drugs and capacitate Zimbabwean scientists with modern drug discovery skills that address public health challenges in Zimbabwe and Africa.

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