Prof Kelly Chibale

Director of H3D

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 Full Member of the UCT Institute of Infectious Disease & Molecular Medicine, founding Director of the South African Medical Research Council Drug Discovery & Development Research unit at UCT, the Founder and Director of the UCT Holistic Drug Discovery and Development (H3D) Centre and is the Chairman and CEO of the H3D Foundation.

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 2010/11 National Science and Technology Forum-BHP Billiton Award in the category TW Kambule NRF Senior Black Researcher (2011), UCT Alan Pifer Research Award (2011), South African National Research Foundation (NRF) Special Recognition Award: Champion of Research Capacity Development at South African Higher Education Institutions (2012); South African Medical Research Council Gold Medal (2016), Cheney Visiting Fellowship from the University of Leeds in the UK (2017-2018), and South African Chemical Institute Gold Medal (2018).  Kelly was also named one of Fortune magazine’s World's 50 Greatest Leaders (2018), one of 22 black biotech leaders in honour of Juneteenth in the USA on a list published by the Timmerman Report, which celebrates innovative black leaders who are change-makers in their respective fields (2021), and one of the 25 standout voices in African public health by Harvard University’s Public Health magazine (2022). After serving as an Associate Editor for the American Chemical Society (ACS)’s Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, in 2023 Kelly became the first Editor-In-Chief (EIC) from Africa of an ACS publication when he was appointed EIC of ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters.

Kelly’s research interests are in infectious disease drug discovery and the development of preclinical discovery tools and models to contribute to improving treatment outcomes in people of African heritage.