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About Kelly Chibale


Kelly Chibale is a full Professor of Organic Chemistry at the University of Cape Town (UCT) where he holds the Neville Isdell Chair in African-centric Drug Discovery & Development. He is also a Tier 1 South Africa Research Chair in Drug Discovery, founding Director of the extramural South African Medical Research Council Drug Discovery & Development Research Unit at UCT, Founder and Director of the UCT Drug Discovery and Development Centre, H3D ( and a Full Member of the UCT Institute of Infectious Disease & Molecular Medicine.

Kelly obtained his PhD in Synthetic Organic Chemistry from the University of Cambridge in the UK (1989-1992) with Stuart Warren.  This was followed by postdoctoral stints at the University of Liverpool in the UK (1992-94) with Nick Greeves and at the Scripps Research Institute in the USA (1994-96) with KC Nicolaou. He was a Sandler Sabbatical Fellow at the University of California San Francisco (2002), a US Fulbright Senior Research Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (2008) and a Visiting Professor at Pfizer in the UK (2008).

In 2018 Kelly was recognized by Fortune magazine as one of the top 50 World's Greatest Leaders and in 2019 he was named as one of the 100 Most Influential Africans by New African magazine.  In 2020 he was named as one of the world’s top 60 most inspirational leaders in the pharmaceutical industry (one of the world’s top 20 inspirational medicine makers in the field of small molecules) on The Medicine Maker's 2020 Power List. Kelly also serves on Editorial Advisory Boards of the American Chemical Society (ACS)’s Accounts of Chemical Research, ACS Infectious Diseases and Journal of Medicinal Chemistry. Amongst other awards, he is a recipient of the Gold Medal of the South African Chemical Institute for 2018 and held a University of Leeds (UK) Cheney Visiting Fellowship (2017-2018).