Supporting the development of a Drug Discovery Hub in Ghana

Published on 1 March 2023

The University of Dundee is working with institutes in Ghana to improve existing drug discovery capacity in the region and establish a drug discovery hub

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Drug discovery work in sub-Saharan Africa is limited. New drugs for Ghana and across sub-Saharan Africa are needed, particularly anti-infectives.

Diseases such as malaria, leishmaniasis, schistosomiasis and tuberculosis have a huge impact in Ghana, yet there is limited research into drug discovery for these diseases due to lack of human capital and adequate infrastructure. 

The Wellcome Centre for Anti-Infectives Research (WCAIR), based in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Dundee, has partnered with Ghanaian institutions to co-develop a drug discovery hub and necessary research infrastructure.  

Over the next 10-15 years, they aim to establish a multi-centre programme which will be capable of undertaking hit discovery, hit to lead and lead optimisation across a range of diseases relevant to Ghana and the West African region. 

WCAIR is committed to helping them further develop their capabilities in screening, medicinal chemistry and drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics. 

$1.8 million funding from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

In 2022, a team of scientists from Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR), University of Ghana and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), in collaboration with the University of Dundee and the University of Cape Town, received over $1.8 million in funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to improve existing drug discovery capabilities in Ghana. 

This award allows the institutes to move closer to their overall aim of establishing drug discovery capability in the region in the next 10-15 years, and start developing a multi-centre, multi-disciplinary hub which addresses chemical, biological and pharmacological needs to develop new drugs. The project will leverage training provided by WCAIR.

Initially focusing on malaria, the hub will expand to serve a variety of diseases. 

The urgent need for new drugs

In 2023, Professor Yeboah-Manu, Director of NMIMR and co-lead on the hub project, joined Professor Ian Gilbert, Head of the University of Dundee’s Drug Discovery Unit, to deliver a lecture on the topic “Antimicrobial Resistance: The Silent Pandemic the Urgent Need for New Drugs”.  

The lecture was organised as part of the University of Dundee’s Africa Lecture Series, which forms part of the University’s commitment to sharing knowledge that empowers individuals, in both Scotland and Africa, to address mutual challenges, further develop our cultural ties.

In the lecture, the pair detailed the threat of antimicrobial resistance, and emphasised how the commitment to a decade of joint working between Dundee and African researchers is vital in tackling resistance to modern drugs. 

Watch the full lecture:

Notes to editors

About WCAIR:

The Wellcome Centre for Anti-Infectives Research is part of the Division of Biological Chemistry and Drug Discovery within the School of Life Sciences at the University of Dundee. 

WCAIR brings together the Drug Discovery Unit (DDU), the Mode of Action group and the Parasitology research groups. With the daily interactions of these groups, parasitology and drug discovery can work together in synergy. This allows for the creation of potential new treatments for diseases which affect over one billion people across the world. 


Jessica Rorke

Media Relations Officer

+44 (0)1382 388878