News Release: Research, School of Medicine

Aug. 14,  2009

Emory Hosts Leading South African Scientists for Collaboration in Drug Discovery Training and Research

Weeklong visit, Aug. 17-21, includes Monday poster session sponsored by Emory Global Health Institute and Emory Center for AIDS Research

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A group of scientific leaders from many of the top universities in South Africa will visit Emory University next week to discuss a research and training collaboration involving drug discovery. The visit is being coordinated jointly by the South African Department of Science and Technology and its National Research Foundation.

The meeting will focus on the development of a new pilot graduate program building on the Emory/South Africa Drug Discovery Training program, a two-year partnership led by Emory chemist and entrepreneur, Dennis Liotta, PhD, and Emory's Deputy General Counsel, Stephen Sencer, JD.  The successful training program has provided educational opportunities that encompass all areas of study related to the drug discovery process. Two groups of South African fellows already have come to live and work at Emory during year-long educational and training experiences.

During the Aug. 17-21 visit, South African delegates and Emory scientists and administrators will explore logistical issues and potential collaborative research projects that will be essential to the success of an expanded program.

The Emory Global Health Institute and the Emory Center for AIDS Research will host a poster session and mixer on Monday, Aug. 17 from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on the Plaza Level of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center Administration Building.

"Our drug discovery training program has been tremendously successful, and we are very pleased to welcome our South African partners to discuss expanding training opportunities and additional research collaborations," says Liotta. "South Africa is uniquely positioned to be a global player in screening for new drug candidates. Its extraordinarily diverse flora and fauna along with its indigenous knowledge and biodiversity give it the potential to build a competitive drug discovery industry."

A robust drug discovery industry in South Africa will require increased educational opportunities for young scientists, says Liotta, as well as opportunities for more experienced scientists to collaborate with other drug discovery researchers at universities and in specialized laboratories around the world.

"Together, we have the opportunity to further a sustainable economic model for biotechnology development that will ultimately bring about lasting improvements in the health and economic self-sufficiency of the people of South Africa and the Sub-Saharan region," Sencer says.  

The South African delegation will consist of leading scientists in the areas of HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and other diseases:

  • Professor Kelly Chibale, University of Cape Town
  • Professor Gabriel A. Kolawole, University of Zululand
  • Professor Abraham Louw, University of Pretoria
  • Professor Sarel Malan, University of Western Cape
  • Professor Peter A. Mbati, University of Venda
  • Professor Jacobus JM Meyer, University of Pretoria
  • Professor Thumbi Ndungu, University of KwaZulu-Natal
  • Dr. Renee LeRoux, National Research Foundation

For more information about the Drug Discovery Training Program, see:

To read an Emory Magazine article about the program, see:

To read an article in Chemical and Engineering News, see:


The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service. Its components include schools of medicine, nursing, and public health; Yerkes National Primate Research Center; the Emory Winship Cancer Institute; and Emory Healthcare, the largest, most comprehensive health system in Georgia. The Woodruff Health Sciences Center has a $2.3 billion budget, 17,000 employees, 2,300 full-time and 1,900 affiliated faculty, 4,300 students and trainees, and a $4.9 billion economic impact on metro Atlanta.

Learn more about Emory’s health sciences:
Twitter: @emoryhealthsci

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