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Research Areas

Psychopharmacology is becoming an increasingly important sub-discipline in the field of pharmacology. Ongoing research by this group endeavors to ascertain the molecular mechanism of action of antidepressants in patients with atypical depression.

Research is also being conducted on various aspects of the Plasmodium protozoa, the causative organism in malaria. With the development of drug resistance to safe and affordable drugs such as chloroquine, there has been a renewed interest in novel compounds that may possess antimalarial properties. Various derivatives of the hydroxyquinolines, structurally diverse nucleoside phosphonic acids and other novel compounds are being evaluated with promising inhibitory activities. A more focused area of research includes various aspects of iron metabolism in the malaria parasite; including how iron is acquired and utilized by the parasite and how drugs interfere with its uptake; the formation of malaria pigment and whether various standard and novel drugs interfere with its formation as the hydroxyquinoline drugs are proposed to do.Novel drugs are also being used to interrupt the life cycle of the malaria parasite by inhibiting gametocytogenesis and various unique enzymes in Plasmodium cell cycle. Various advanced molecular techniques are being used to determine the efficacy of these agents.

Additional studies being conducted in this division include:

  • The appropriate utilization of different classes of drugs in a managed care setting, despite managed care principles, is closely correlated to the marketing and promotion of new classes of drugs,
  • The effect of evidence-based medicine and pharmacoeconomics on the use of drugs in a insured health environment, and
  • Assessment in pharmacology education.

Contacts: Prof. Robyn van Zyl, email:, Dr. Leonie Harmse, email:; Ms. Shirra Moch, email:, or Dr. Neil Butkow, email:

The Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology is eager to further create and strengthen links with interested parties at other local and international institutions with the aim of forming lasting collaborations, not only with researchers in the field of Pharmacy, but also with individuals in other related fields such as Engineering and Molecular Biology.


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