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Global recognition for research and innovation in pharmaceutical sciences

- Wits University

Wits Professor of Pharmacy, Yahya Choonara, is the 2022 FIP Distinguished Pharmaceutical Science Award winner.

The Bureau of the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP), which represents over four million pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists around the world, bestowed the award at the 80th FIP World Congress of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences in Seville, Spain.

Professor of Pharmacy Yahya Choonara recipient of Bureau of the International Pharmaceutical Federation Distinguished P

The international accolade recognises Professor Yahya Choonara’s research and contribution to pharmaceutical sciences globally. As an advocate of pharmaceutical innovation, his work is at the forefront of producing advanced life-saving 21st century medicines for infectious, hereditary, and lifestyle diseases.

Choonara leads the Wits Advanced Drug Delivery Platform (WADDP) Research Unit. A Wits University flagship unit, the WADPP is Africa’s first, largest and only entity contributing to the design of novel targeted drug delivery systems, nano-medicine, functional biomaterials, and regenerative medicines.

Drug delivery systems refer to technologies that carry drugs into or throughout the body. These technologies include the method of delivery, such as a pill that you swallow or a vaccine that is injected. It is the method or process of administering a pharmaceutical compound to achieve a therapeutic effect in humans.

Choonara is a Personal Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences and the National Research Foundation Chair in Pharmaceutical Biomaterials and Polymer-Engineered Drug Delivery Technologies. He holds the largest pharmaceutical product patent portfolio (43) aimed at providing patient-centric drug therapies for unmet therapeutic needs. His inventions include a WaferMat (the world’s fastest dissolving matrix), a VagiTab, Nanomedicine and BioInspired NeuroTherapeutics.

He is also the first South African pharmaceutical scientist and pharmacist to receive both the FIP Award and South Africa's Department of Science and Innovation Top Intellectual Property Creator Award, one of the country’s highest awards for distinguished contributions to innovation.

Choonara is passionate about developing the next generation of pharmaceutical scientists for South Africa and Africa. He has graduated more than 110 postgraduates and mentored more than 18 postdoctoral fellows from nine countries. He currently mentors several emerging pharmaceutical scientists at various academic institutions in Africa who are pursuing a career in pharmaceutical product development (including nanomedicine). In this regard, he was invited to co-author two UNESCO UniTWIN inaugural reports, titled A Needs-Based Pharmaceutical Sciences Education in Africa and Addressing Equitable, Inclusive and Quality Pharmaceutical Science Education