A Zimbabwean researcher, Dr Patience Chihomvu, is the only African selected for AstraZeneca’s Postdoctoral Challenge.
AstraZeneca is a British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical and biotechnology company, with its headquarters at the Cambridge Biomedical Campus in Cambridge, England.
She is one of six finalists chosen for a fully funded postdoctoral research position.
In 2021 AstraZeneca invested $8 billion in R&D, around 21% of the Company’s turnover, in order to continue to discover and develop medicines which transform the lives of patients.
To help achieve this, they launched the R&D Postdoctoral Challenge, inviting final-year MD and/or PhD students and Postdoctoral Researchers to propose their own innovative ideas to accelerate drug discovery and development.
The Company has three world-class strategic R&D centres including The Discovery Centre (DISC) in Cambridge in the UK, one in Gaithersburg, Maryland in the greater Washington, D.C. region of the US, and another in Gothenburg in Sweden, as well as further hubs across the world.
Dr Chihomvu told Africa.com that on March 17, 2022, during the EXPO 2020 in Dubai, AstraZeneca (AZ) ExtraZeneca launched the global R&D Postdoctoral Challenge to accelerate solutions to complex diseases.
The competition invited PhD students and postdoctoral researchers to propose innovative drug development concepts. Cátia Ferreira, Portugal; Filipa Dias Louro, Portugal; Rakhee K. Ramakrishnan, United Arab Emirates; Gonçalo Rosas da Silva, Portugal; Mark Waterhouse, UK; and Patience Chihomvu, Zimbabwe were among the finalists.
Dr Chihomvu said her research will focus on drug discovery using the medicinal herb Zumbani, mutswane, umsutane (Swati); inzinziniba (Xhosa); umsuzwane, umswazi (Zulu), also called “lemon bush” or “fever tree.
She added that she realised the potential of phytochemical compounds when her dad was diagnosed with COVID-19 in 2021 and he used medicinal herbs to get rid of the COVID-19 symptoms.
She said she will be in Gothenburg, Sweden, the R&D facility which hosted the finalists.
Dr Patience Chihomvu obtained her BSc (Hons) at the National University of Science and Technology in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.
She began working as a Food Science and Nutrition Lecturer following her graduation and supervised Higher National Diploma students on their final-year projects.
Dr Chihomvu applied for her master’s degree in research at the Vaal University of Technology in 2013. She has been recognised with multiple awards for her research, including the Vaal University of Technology Masters Research Award, the Vaal University of Technology Doctorate Research Award and the S & F Innovation Doctoral Awards – National Research Foundation.
Dr Chihomvu continues to focus her research on microbiology, molecular biology, and tissue culture and currently lectures at the Vaal University of Technology in South Africa.