UNZA lecturer wins US award for malarial research

A UNIVERSITY of Zambia lecturer has won the prestigious American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene award for his anti-malarial drug research.

Dr Peter Cheuka, who specialises in Medicinal Chemistry and Drug Discovery in the School of Natural Sciences at UNZA’s Department of Chemistry, is scheduled to receive the award during the ASTMH 2019 annual meeting at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Centre in Maryland on November 18.

According to a statement availed by UNZA spokesperson Brenda Bukowa, the award, which is funded in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will see Dr Cheuka present his findings before stakeholders working around the area of tropical medicine research.

UNZA Vice-Chancellor Professor Luke Evuta Mumba commended Dr Cheuka for showing commitment to the fight against the malaria pandemic which affects Zambia and most countries in the tropical region.

According to the statement, Prof Mumba said Dr Cheuka’s research undertakings that would lead to new anti-malarials have the potential to replace malaria treatment options that have been rendered ineffective by widespread resistance.

“As you travel for this very important meeting, remember you are carrying the UNZA flag. Go there and represent our great Institution, UNZA and beautiful country, Zambia. Your research deserves all the kudos it can get,” Prof Mumba said.

Dr Cheuka, 32 described the award as a recognition of his research in tropical diseases, particularly his anti-malarial drug discovery research on novel chemical entities that could form the next generation of anti-malarial drugs.

He stated that with about 219 million cases of malaria reported in 2017 alone, eradication efforts were hindered by rising resistance to current first line treatment options, the artemisinin-combination therapies, thus, new and cheaper anti-malarial drugs are urgently needed to address the malaria pandemic which has continued to affect millions of individuals especially in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Dr Cheuka, who grew up in Mbala, received his PhD in Chemistry from the University of Cape Town earlier this year.

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