Kelly Chibale 2023 Senior Fellow
Affiliation Professor, University of Cape Town Hard Problem Made game-changing contributions by having AI address one or more of humanity’s greatest challenges and opportunities.

Kelly Chibale is a Professor of Organic Chemistry at the University of Cape Town (UCT) where he holds the Neville Isdell Chair in African-centric Drug Discovery and Development. He is also the Founder and Director of the UCT Holistic Drug Discovery and Development (H3D) Centre, a Johnson and Johnson Centre for Global Health Discovery.

Kelly obtained his PhD in Synthetic Organic Chemistry from the University of Cambridge in the UK. This was followed by postdoctoral stints at the University of Liverpool in the UK and at The Scripps Research Institute in the USA. He was a Sandler Sabbatical Fellow at the University of California San Francisco, a US Fulbright Senior Research Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and a Visiting Professor at Pfizer in the UK.

Kelly has received many notable awards and honors, which include a South African Medical Research Council Gold Medal (2016), the University of Leeds (UK) Cheney Fellowship (2017-2018), and being named one of Fortune magazine’s World’s 50 Greatest Leaders (2018). He was recently awarded the 2023 Royal Society Africa Prize for exceptional leadership and groundbreaking work in drug discovery for African endemic diseases. Kelly serves as Editor-In-Chief of the American Chemical Society (ACS) publication ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters.

Kelly’s research interests are in infectious disease drug discovery.

AI2050 Project

There is a strong interplay between genetics, the socioeconomic and physical environment in which patients live, and effective treatment of disease. Thus, for the genetically diverse African continent, it is vital to build drug discovery and development capacity within the social and physical environment of the population. Coupled with the resource-limited settings of most African countries, access to innovative tools that can speed up the drug discovery process in a cost-efficient manner is needed. In his AI2050 project, Chibale will achieve this by developing and deploying a set of innovative open-source AI models that can be utilized for drug discovery in Africa.

Project Artifacts

G. Turon, M. Njoroge, M. Mulubwa, M. Duran-Frigola, and K. Chibale. AI can help to tailor drugs for Africa — but Africans should lead the way. Nature. 2024.